What is Tahini?

What is Tahini?

It is the indispensable condiment for falafel and many Middle Eastern dishes, also one of the main ingredient in any respectable hummus.

Tahini is the name for the sesame paste used to make the tahini sauce. If you travel to the middle east pronounce it as T’heena.

When describing tahini, I tell my cooking class students to think about peanut butter made with sesame seeds. Tahini is simply ground sesame seeds. The sesame seeds can be raw or roasted, whole or hulled.

My preference is for raw, cleaner flavor and richer in nutrients. Whole sesame seeds still have their husk. Whole grain tahini will be more nutrient rich but will also have a darker color and more pronounced bitterness. Go for the hulled sesame tahini.

Speaking of nutrients, tahini is nutritionally dense. Vitamins B & E, iron, calcium and magnesium. Although rich in fat, these are good fats, deemed necessary for our bodies.

Since tahini is made with nothing but sesame seeds the origin and treatment of the sesame are extremely important. Sesame is being produced in different parts of the world, but the best sesame seeds come from Ethiopia. The grinding process for the tahini is also very important as you would like the sesame seeds to stay cool, so their flavor won’t be affected.

Most associate tahini with savory applications but tahini can be used to make desserts. Mix it with honey and pour some over vanilla ice cream. The cold temperatures will make the tahini crystalize to create a healthier version of Magic Shell.

I like my tahini sauce to have very few ingredients. Tahini, lemon, garlic, salt and parsley. With so few ingredients each one of them is important. Use good quality tahini, fresh lemon juice and fresh garlic cloves. Go for flat leaf (or Italian) parsley rather than the curly parsley. Flat leaf parsley has better flavor and is more authentic to the middle east.

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Tahini Sauce

Use it as a condiment for falafel, kebabs, or put some on your hummus. Consistency can be adjusted with water so it can even be used as a great vegan option for salad dressing.

  • Prep Time5 min
  • Cook Time2 min
  • Total Time7 min
  • Cuisine
  • Course
    • Appetizer
    • Main Course
  • Suitable for Diet
    • Gluten Free
    • Kosher
    • Low Lactose
    • Vegan

For the burger

  • 5 oz. Tahini
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Water
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves

Preparing the tahini sauce

1

In a food processor bowl, place tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt.

2

Start processing the sauce. After a few seconds the mixture will start looking like it is curdled. Not to worry…

3

Start adding water slowly until it comes back together and the sauce has a smooth texture. Stop the food processor and add the parsley leaves.  

4

Process for a few seconds longer just until the leaves are chopped into the sauce. Adjust seasoning with lemon and salt. Adjust texture with more water if needed. Serve immediately or keep in the refrigerator. 

It is possible that the tahini sauce will thicken further in the refrigerator. Adjust the consistency with more water if needed.

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