Popular in the Middle Eastern, Turkish, Greek and some North African cuisine, tahini is a nutty flavored paste made with sesame seeds. Make your own and you will never have to leave it out of recipes again.
By Lail Hossain
Popular in the Middle Eastern, Turkish, Greek and some North African cuisine, tahini is a nutty flavored paste without any nuts. I fell in love with tahini on our recent trip to Turkey and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this easy to make recipe. Tahini is a basic ingredient in many popular recipes such as hummus, various salad dressings, baba ganoush, etc. Then again, tahini can also be used as dip, as sesame butter on toast, on meat dishes particularly on delicious kababs. On our first morning in Istanbul, our server introduced us to eating a toast dipped in tahini with molasses. At that very moment, I instantly fell in love with Tahini.
Homemade tahini is extremely easy and quick to make. Naturally, the homemade kind is less expensive than the store-bought paste and also tastes much better than what comes out of a store bought jar. Best of all, you only need two ingredients: sesame seeds and oil to make tahini.
Commercial tahini is usually made from white, hulled sesame seeds that gives tahini a lighter color and smoother texture. Homemade tahini, which is usually made from unhulled or natural sesame seeds is not quite as smooth, but has a richer flavor. Nonetheless, homemade tahini can also be made from hulled, raw, sprouted sesame seeds. I used organic unhulled sesame seeds to make this batch. Depending on the kind of seeds, the resulting tahini will lend different flavor, color and texture. Toasting the sesame seeds also gives tahini a nuttier flavor that I recommend highly.
- 4 cups sesame seeds
- 1 cup olive oil
- Place sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring them frequently with a wooden spoon. Toast the seeds until they are fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.
- Transfer the toasted sesame seeds to a large plate or tray and let them cool completely.
- Place the sesame seeds in a food processor and process for 2 to 3 minutes until the seeds are crumbly.
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil at a time to the food processor and process for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary. Process until the mixture forms a thick and fairly smooth paste.
- Transfer tahini to a jar or airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
If tahini separates, stir the paste to redistribute the oil.
One tip to get a smoother tahini at home is to by grinding the seeds before adding the oil.
Lail Hossain finds cooking to be an explosion of creativity. She is enthusiastic about modifying a laborious step of an old recipe, and experimenting with different ethnic recipes by adding her own spin to it yet keeping the recipes simple, healthy, and delicious. Originally from Bangladesh, Lail shares her journey of food, creativity and family in her blog "With A Spin". She is also very passionate about highlighting Bangladeshi cooking to the international culinary space.