Definition: What is tahini? What is tahini made from? Read on for a definition and to find out what you need to know about tahini.
What is tahini? What is tahini made from?
Tahini is made from sesame seeds, with a little bit of oil mixed in to make it the right consistency, and usually nothing else. Tahini is a ground sesame seed paste, similar to peanut butter. It is a creamy, oily, and smooth nut butter rich in calcium.
Tahini is a common ingredient in many vegetarian ad vegan recipes (particularly in salad dressings and homemade hummus), and is often used in Middle Eastern cooking.
Where can I find tahini?
Nearly all grocery stores carry tahini, and certainly, all natural foods stores and grocery stores such as Whole Foods will have it in stock, if you just know where to look!
Look for tahini in a glass jar, a plastic tub or a sometimes a can. At large regular grocery stores (such as Safeway, Kroeger and Harris Teeter), I usually find tahini stocked in the ethnic foods aisle along with a small selection of other Middle Eastern food ingredients, such as grape leaves. I've also spotted tahini next to the peanut butter and other nut butter at some grocery stores and smaller organic markets and co-op stores, so if you're shopping somewhere which doesn't have an ethnic food aisle, check the peanut butter aisle.
You can also sometimes find fresh tahini in the refrigerator section next to the hummus in larger well-stocked grocery stores and natural foods stores. Occasionally, I've seen tahini in a powdered, dehydrated form that you can just rehydrate with water. Of course, fresh is always best, but this powdered tahini can be very convenient to keep on hand.
How to use tahini
The first thing to know about using tahini is this: like natural peanut butter, the naturally occurring oils in tahini will separate, from the solids so plan on stirring your tahini quite a bit when you first open it, since all of the oil will be on top. This is a good thing, actually! It means that there's no additives or chemicals added to your tahini to prevent it from separating!
Tahini is an important ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine and several other ethnic cuisines, including Greek, North African, and Turkish cuisine. It's a central ingredient in recipes such as hummus, as well as many vegan salad dressings, such as goddess dressing and can be used in a variety of other ways as well.
Many Middle Eastern restaurants serve tahini alongside falafel for dipping, or, if you order a combination appetizer or vegetarian platter, it'll likely be one of the saucy dips that come alongside your falafel, pita, and hummus.
You can also make your own tahini using sesame seeds and oil.
Wondering what to make with tahini? Here are some easy recipes using tahini:
- Easy Garlic Hummus
- Tahini "Goddess" Dressing
- Cold Chinese Sesame Noodles
- Easy Baba Ganoush
- Chickpea Baba Ganoush