But why the hype?
There is a reason dukkah has gained so much popularity in trend-forward Australia and you can blame the rise of the trendy brunch item, avocado toast or avo toast, as the Aussies would call it.
“Avocado is a pretty tame flavor… it lends itself to additions. Dukkah is a popular topping—this condiment hails from Egypt, a blend of finely chopped nuts and spices—way more interesting to sprinkle on avocado than boring old salt and pepper." - Sprudge.com
The information I came across as to why dukkah is so popular in Australia of all places, and such a distance from Egypt and North Africa was that in the late 1800's as large tracts of land were being settled, Afghan Cameleers came to drive camel trains across the Australian outback, thus pioneering what the Muslim community is today in Australia.
Now you'll find that it's being increasingly adopted by the vegan and vegetarian community as it adds flavour, texture, nutritional value to meals that can at times seem dull and without variation. Folks on a plant-based diet already use nuts and seeds to increase nutrition. Dukkah, literally, spices things up.
It's not just the Aussies and plant-based foodies that have adopted dukkah (duqqa, dukka), it is a darling of the gourmet restaurant community. Yes, you'll find it served traditionally, as a dip with bread and oil, but mostly you'll see it sprinkled as a topping and sometimes as a coating or crumb for meat or fish. And you'll see Chefs showcase many creative recipes to harness dukkah's beauty, flavour and aromatics. It adds interesting dimension to foods.
The (long) Story of Mutha Dukkah
Ever since I set off on my first backpacking trip to Europe at the age of 21, I’ve loved to travel. It is engrained in my DNA. I’ve been to over 25 countries in 5 different continents in my 40+ years of life, with plans to explore many more. I’ve always felt inspired by other cultures, felt a pull to a simpler way of life and drawn to the sunshine. So for my 40th birthday, I realized that I was living in a hamster wheel. I was disenchanted by my career in the fashion industry. I was stuck in the day in, day out of commuting to work in Vancouver. I knew I wasn't going to achieve the things that mattered in my life by staying where I was. I wanted meaning. I quit my Canadian life to live out my vision of a life in Central America, building a surf and wellness retreat centre. Read about it in my personal blog LiveTheSaltyLife.com
. It was a good plan at the time. I felt brave and empowered. Instead, I came back to Canada pregnant and solo. My plan didn’t work out the way I had envisioned it. The Universe had other plans. My daughter was born in September 2016. I found the meaning the Universe intended me to find.
She is my everything.
Travel is a passion I wanted to share with my daughter the moment she was born. She has already been to 4 countries and on 10+ plane rides before the age of two. She was on her first flight at 3 months old. At 7 months old, I took her on her first long flight - 16 hours to Melbourne! I had a few different countries in mind, but I decided on 2 months in Australia. I chose Australia for a few reasons - easy to get around, spoke English and had access to medical care if needed. Also, at 7 months, my daughter hadn’t had all of her vaccinations, so I didn’t want to risk her getting sick in a country where food, water or mosquito-borne illnesses exist. These wouldn't have been prerequisites had I been travelling on my own.
I have a friend in Melbourne, so we were fortunate to land a housesitting gig in the Northcote
area of Melbourne for 3 weeks. Little did I know, Melbourne is home to some of the best baristas and cafes in the world. Melbourne residents take their coffee very seriously. As do I! It seemed only natural to go on a cafe and food tour of Melbourne. A friend suggested I check out local Vancouver food blogger and influencer Erin Ireland’s
blog post, as she just returned from Melbourne with her young daughter, who was about the same age as mine. I wasn’t familiar with Erin Ireland, but I knew about her company, To Die For
. I added her list of spots
to visit to another list I had curated from the Espresso Melbourne blog
and plotted it all into my own list on Google Maps. Here is that list
. I’d pick a neighbourhood on the map, then we’d eat and sip our way through that neighbourhood. My daughter at 7-9 months was the perfect age for this type of travel. I could plop her down in a highchair and she was the perfect coffee date.
Unbeknownst to me, I set off on a plant-based tour of Melbourne. I didn't realize that Erin Ireland is a plant-based foodie. I was very pleasantly surprised! I ended up having some of the best food I’ve ever eaten and it shifted my eating to more plant-based foods. It’s also where I learned about dukkah. It seemed like everywhere I ate at, Dukkah was on the menu. Turns out it is a common pantry staple in Aussie kitchens. It is on the grocery store shelves. Commonly it is seen on a vegan or vegetarian dish in restaurants. And most of the time, on avocado toast. This totally makes sense. Nuts and seeds in a vegan diet do not only provide essential nutrients to prevent deficiencies, but also provide an enrichment in flavour, texture and variety. Vegan diet or no vegan diet, nuts and seeds are good-for-you, and so are spices.
Back in Vancouver, dukkah was almost impossible to find. Not on grocery shelves and very little evidence of anything online. So I found some recipes and started to make it myself. It proved to be a tasty enhancement for my boring busy-mom meals and an easy nutrition boost for my fussy-toddler meals. I figured that I couldn’t be the only person in Vancouver looking for dukkah. Turns out I wasn't! Mutha Dukkah was born. I can’t contain my excitement when someone tells me how stoked they are to now find dukkah in Canada!
I want you to love Mutha Dukkah much as I do. I want it to be the first thing you reach for to jazz up your meal. I want North Americans to know what dukkah is. I want everything about the brand to make you smile. I want you to share it with the people you love (and even the people you don't!) This business, for me, came out of love as a means of giving my daughter the best life possible. I will tell you that being on my own with a toddler is not easy. Neither is starting a business. Mutha Dukkah is my strength. It is made with love. In Squamish. In small batches. With thoughtful ingredients. By a single mama (mutha).
If you're looking to buy dukkah in Vancouver, we've got you. If you're looking to buy dukkah in BC, we've got you! If you're looking to buy dukkah in Canada, we've got you. If you're looking to buy dukkah in the USA and the rest of North America, yep, we've got you covered there. If you're looking to buy dukkah in other international cities, we've (mostly) got you there too! Our online store ships to places all over the world!
I believe that good-for-you and tasty and easy can be one in the same. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice nutrition for flavour. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice flavour for nutrition. Never should you have to sacrifice flavour! It is important to me, to make Mutha Dukkah using raw, organic, good-for you ingredients, ones that are ethically and sustainably sourced wherever possible. I've started the process to be certified organic. I’m working with a supplier that shares my values on sourced ingredients and I aim to do even better. Mutha Dukkah will work towards having direct relationships with suppliers in countries of origin - that is my goal. Step-by-step I will get there.
As I mentioned, travel has always been a big part of my being and it is something that I want my daughter to experience as she grows up. I want her to experience how others live and not be sheltered in her white washed world. I want her to know that we are extremely privileged to live in Canada and have the life that we do. Education. Free healthcare. A female business owner. These are privileges that simply wouldn’t happen for a lot of other single mothers in the world. I am very much aware of that and I don’t take it for granted. I started this business as a means to support my family as a single mother. It’s hard enough being a parent with a partner, even harder to get a leg up in the world as a single parent. I want Mutha Dukkah to give back to organizations that support woman’s empowerment, specifically single mothers, both locally and in developing nations. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, but this is a big goal I'm working on. I welcome any ideas on what this could look like.
Peace and love,
Bridey Payne (The Mutha)