Dagga Gazawiyyah (Hot Tomato and Dill Salsa from Gaza)

Dagga Gazawiyyah is a tangy, herby and citrusy hot tomato and dill salsa from the heart of Gaza in Palestine. It’s so easy to put together, and makes a wonderful dinner table condiment.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

dagga gazawiyyah, hot tomato and dill salad from gaza in a small white bowl with Khubz (flatbread), with fresh dill and swedge of lemon
Dagga Gazawiyyah (Hot Tomato and Dill Salsa from Gaza)

How to pronounce Dagga and Salata Gazawiyyah?

Let’s pronounce it first, shall we?

In Arabic, it’s spelt:

  • دقة = dagga (the name of this salsa)
  • سلطة غازاؤية = salata Gazawiyyah (Gazan salad, salad from Gaza)

I’ve touched on Arabic pronunciations in the past, most recently, in the Sumaghieh article here. Arabic letters are pronounced differently depending on region, village and also cultural inclination. I’m going to keep it simple and just give you the pronunciations today.

  • Dagga = ignore the g, and place a glottal stop after Da. So da’a (imagine saying water without sounding out the t, wa’er).
    However, many people also sound out the double g subtly. It all depends on where you come from and also your cultural inclinations. Just to keep you on your toes!
  • Salata Gazawiyyah = this is as it’s spelt. The a pronunciations will differ from region to region, it can be the a in apple, or the a in far. In Gazawiyyah, the double y tells you that’s where the emphasis is.

What is Dagga or Salata Gazawiyyah?

The fact that Dagga is called salata, tells you that many think of it as a salad. Just like the Levantine Saltat al Rahib and the Turkish Acılı Ezme – chopped up or pounded vegetables and spices, giving a very wet salad.

To me, it’s more of a salsa, given its watery constitution, and so that’s why in my classes, I call Dagga a salsa, specifically, Hot Tomato and Dill Salsa.

It’s a very tangy salsa with sharp citusy flavours, both from the lemon juice, as well as the dill. On top of that, you have peppery flavours from the chillies and the olive oil, and also grassy aroma, from the dill and also from the olive oil.

dagga gazawiyyah, hot tomato and dill salad from gaza in a small white bowl with fresh dill and swedge of lemon
this is how I like my dagga

Dagga Recipe

As I mention in the video, this Gazan tomato and dill salad or salsa is a very traditional recipe. And like all traditional recipes, it’s going to have differences between families and regions. Some will only use dill seeds, while others will only use fresh dill.

Some dagga recipes won’t use any garlic, while others will only have garlic, and no onions! And then, there are those who prefer only a hint of tomatoes, making it a pretty green salsa or salad. So while the group of ingredients doesn’t change, the individual ingredient may, depending on who’s making it.

It’s a very, very easy recipe to put together, and get be made in less than 10 minutes. You’ll want a pestle and mortar ideally, but if you haven’t got one, place it in a food chopper and pulse to get the coarse mix we want.

Recipe Steps:

  1. Toast the dill seeds for 1 minute, just to shake up the aroma. Tip into your mortar and leave to cool slightly, while you get on with the prep work.
  2. Prep all the aromatics and vegetables by chopping them, or in the case of the garlic, I use a crusher.
  3. Pound the dill seeds with some salt.
  4. Add the garlic, shallots, chillies, tomatoes, fresh dill, lemon juice and olive oil in turn.

That’s it. You should be able to do the whole thing in 10 minutes. Get everything ready, and the whole process will be a breeze.

Zibdiya

Dagga is best made with a pestle and mortar, so the aromatic oils are released and allowed to “mingle”. However, if you haven’t got one, then pulse it in a food chopper. If you haven’t got a food chopper? Cjop it all all finely and mix it up. Like I do in the Turkish Acılı Ezme.

Traditionally, dagga is made in a zibdiya, a clay bowl that is the Gazan equivalent of the mortar from other cultures. When made to be used for pounding spices, the zibdiya is a small, basic clay bowl. It’s fired but left unglazed. Made in Gaza, this is a generational essential ingredient in the Palestine kitchen, or Gazan kitchen.

But the zibdiya is also a cooking vessel. You’ll find bigger versions used for cooking as well as for serving. In fact, there are dshes names after the bowl when they’re cooked in them An example is Zibdiyit Gambari, a prawn (shrimp) dish cooked in a zibdiya, or claypot. Look out for the recipe soon.

scooping up dagga gazawiyyah, hot tomato and dill salad from gaza with Khubz (flatbread)
just look at that!

Ingredients

The ingredients for our Gazan dill and tomato salad or salsa are pretty much everyday ingredients, apart from the dill seeds. I get mine in bulk online, as I go through quite a bit in my classes.

Here in the global Amazon link for getting dill seeds.

If you can’t get dill seeds, you can substitute them with a quarter teaspoon of fennel seeds or caraway seeds. But the better option is to leave them out and double up on the fresh dill. After all, as mentioned above, not everyone uses dill seeds.

This Palestinian condiment is traditionally spicy. How hot you make it is up to you. Use more or less chillies or change the variety for a milder or hotter dagga.

How to Serve this Gazan Tomato and Dill Salad?

Dagga is traditionally served with some flatbread and as an accompaniment to a main meal, be that stews like Sumakiyyah or rice like Maqluba. Any kind of Middle Eastern style flatbread will do, like the ubiquitous pita. Palestinian pita is just ever so slightly different than that served in the Mediterranean, although perhaps only noticeable to the discerning, or the fussy! Look out for the recipe in the coming weeks.

When barbecue season come around, be sure to have a bowl of this with your other condiments, and watch it be the first to disappear!

I love it on pizza too!

Sumakiyyah Recipe (Palestinian Sumac Stew, aka Sumaghiyyeh)
Sumakiyyah, or Sumaghiyyeh recipe. This is an old, traditional, rustic Palestinian sumac stew synonymous with Gaza. Find out how to make it.
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Vegetable Maqluba Recipe (A Vegan Makloubeh)
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Best maqluba recipe, maqluba layers photography

Cultural/Language Fun

Bread in Arabic is khubz (خبز), with variant spellings like khoubz or khoubuz. It doesn’t actually refer to a particular type of bread. Like the word roti is the word for bread in Hindi and Malay. All breads, flat or not, is a type of khubz or roti.

I think maybe a Middle Eastern bread series is called for. We’ve already got a few on this site, like the Palestinian Taboon bread, the Levantine Manakeesh and the Persian Barbari. Watch this space!

How long will it Keep?

Dagga Gazawiyyah is best eaten fairly fresh. Any leftover can be kept, covered, in the fridge for 24 hours. It’s not really a condiment to be kept in the fridge for days. This is because it’s full of raw aromatics and vegetables, just like a regular salsa.

And there you go, a very, very traditional Palestinian salad or salsa from the very heart of Gaza.

If you enjoy the recipe, drop me a comment and let me know. And if you are feeling like a star, don’t forget that 5-star rating!😉

If you make this recipe, post it on Instagram and tag me @azlinbloor.

Lin xx

dagga gazawiyyah, hot tomato and dill salad from gaza in a small white bowl with Khubz (flatbread), with fresh dill and swedge of lemon

Dagga Gazawiyyah (Hot Tomato and Dill Salsa from Gaza)

Dagga Gazawiyyah is a tangy, herby and citrusy hot tomato and dill salsa from the heart of Gaza in Palestine.
5 from 12 votes
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Course: Condiments, Salad
Cuisine: Middle Eastern, Palestinian
Keyword: dagga, dill, gaza, gazan recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Servings: 2
Calories: 178kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor

Equipment

  • 1 pestle and mortar
  • 1 small knife like a paring knife
  • 1 Chopping board

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp dill seeds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 g fresh dill about 1 small handful
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot
  • 3 green chillies to taste, more or less up to you
  • 2 medium tomatoes ripe but not too soft
  • 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Lightly toast the dill seeds on low for 1 minute. Tip into the mortar you'll be using. Leave to cool while you get the other ingredients ready.
    Don't leave your dill seeds in the pan as they'll continue to brown and burn.
  • Peel, then chop up your garlic finely or use a crusher as I do in the video.
    Roughly chop your shallot, chillies, tomatoes and fresh dill. This will make the final pounding easier.
  • Add the salt to the toasted dill seeds in your mortar. Using your pestle, grind the dill and salt in a circular motion to until they're basically crushed to an almost fine powder. Shouldn't take you more than a minute.
  • Add the garlic, shallots, green chillies and dill and pound/grind until the aromatics are all ground to a semi fine mix.
  • Add the tomatoes, and lightly squash them with the pestle. How fine you crush the tomatoes is a matter of taste. As you can see in the images and video, I like them really squashed.
    You could squash half and leave half whole for the best of two worlds.
    * In the video, I only used 1 tomato, as I wasn't using as much garlic, shallot and fresh dill.
  • Add 2 Tbsp of the lemon juice and 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and mix well with a spoon.
    Taste and add more juice, olive oil or salt, if you fancy.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 178kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 823mg | Potassium: 351mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1219IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg
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