We were lucky enough to find a hidden underground restaurant in Cape Town. An underground supper club that hosts a different chef each week? Uh heck yeah! Tucked away in the historical Bo’kaap area of Cape town, we knew it would be tricky to find. Google maps guided us through alleyways and unfamiliar streets, downwards, upwards and around the city. My anxiety was slowly escalating, were we going to miss it? We finally found the grey-walled warehouse, away from the noise and bustle of the main streets. Vintage chic decor and a glass of cold white wine greeted us at the door and relief washed over.
We entered the warehouse, which was transformed from an art gallery by day to a chef’s playground by night. The chef’s table, set dimly with only candles and old wine bottles, set the scene for an intimate dinner with other foodies like us.
The dinner, incredibly prepared by Nick Charamboulos, was heavenly. Tender lamb belly served over risotto and artichokes , carrots roasted in dukkah spice, refreshing peach granita and bitter chocolate mousse with fresh coconut shavings. Heavenly.
We returned home to Canada only a couple days later, to find our car covered in ice and an impending snow storm that would mean hours of shoveling and frozen toes. I still had the taste of cumin and sesame lingering in my mouth from the warm dukkah-roasted carrot. Did that dinner even happen? Were we even in Cape Town at all, basking under the hot sun? But I know it happened, my taste buds were still tingling from that dinner.
I wanted to taste those flavours again, savour those spices and get rid of the chill that had settled in my bones. This soup was going to be my answer – caramelized dukkah-roasted carrot soup served hot with crunchy hazelnuts and crunchy chives. The distinctive smell of toasted cumin and sesame warms up the soup and your stomach. The recipe is simple and flavourful, thanks to the easy-to-make dukkah spice.
Dukkah spice is an Egyptian spice blend of toasted nuts and seeds. It’s warm and aromatic blend will give almost anything a rich flavour that will leave a lingering taste on your mouth. Toast the spices over the stove until it becomes fragrant. Grind into a fine powder and store in a re-sealable jar. This spice works over vegetables and roasted potatoes, meat, and mixed in olive oil for a perfect bread dipper or salad dressing. You can use almost any form of nut that you have sitting in your pantry, though hazelnuts are the most common. Any variation of spices will do just fine, but my favourite will always be the O.G – coriander seeds, sesame seeds and cumin seeds.
- For the dukkah spice:
- ⅔ cup of hazelnuts
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- For the soup:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1lb carrots
- 1½ tbsp of dukkah spice
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 shallots, sliced
- 1 tbsp of dukkah spice
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- salt and pepper to taste
- extra dukkah spice, hazelnuts and chives or parsley for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400F
- For the dukkah spice, toast the hazelnuts in a shallow frying pan over medium heat until skins start to fall off. Remove from heat and grind in a food processor until it becomes a fine powder. Toast the sesame seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds over medium heat until fragrant. Place in a spice grinder (or mortar pestle) and grind until it produces a fine powder. Mix together with the ground hazelnuts to make the spice blend.
- For the roasted carrots, toss the carrots with 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1½ tbsp of the freshly made dukkah spice. Roast the carrots until slightly caramelized, about 20 mins.
- For the soup, heat the butter in a stock pot over medium high heat and add the shallots. Cook until shallots become soft. Add 1 tbsp of dukkah spice and cook for 30 seconds before adding the roasted carrots, vegetable broth and water. Simmer for approx. 30 mins. Blend the soup using a blender or an immersion blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place in bowls and top with garnishes before serving.