There’s a good chance that if you’ve made hummus at home before, you have a jar of tahini lying around in the fridge. But have you thought of how else to use it? I asked a few of my local insiders about how they use tahini.
Tahini is a smooth paste made from grinding hulled and lightly toasted sesame seeds. The earliest mentions of this ancient paste date back to 3500BC. It is hugely popular in the Middle Eastern food scene and is also widely used in Israeli, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and African cuisines.
It would be rude not to mention the importance of tahini in hummus. Creamy, nutty and rich, hummus would be bland without tahini. Along with smoothness and depth of flavour, tahini adds a range of vitamins and minerals to the already nutritious dip. Tahini has the same effect in baba ganoush, a smoky eggplant dip. Lisa Quarrie from Hayes Common told me that “many people mistakenly add oil for creaminess, but it’s the tahini that will give you that and keep your dips light”.
Justin Thompson from The Shack Raglan adds tahini to a lemony yoghurt sauce. The nutty sesame notes balance out sour yoghurt and it’s beautiful over pan-fried fish with fresh mint and pomegranate seeds. He also thickens up this yoghurt for a tahini labneh and spreads it on sourdough toast with a drizzle of honey and walnut dukkah. Haedyn Woollaston from Ernest mixes tahini with lemon, Raglan Coconut yoghurt, ground cumin and coriander seeds for a dressing over energy bowls.
Turn tahini into a staple dressing for your fridge by whisking it together with olive oil, lemon, maple syrup and salt. Take this base dressing and play with the flavours and consistency. The turmeric tahini dressing from Hayes Common has always been popular but you could use any winter citrus, Middle Eastern spices or zingy flavoured vinegars. Use this dressing over roasted cauliflower, crispy falafels, a winter nourish bowl or wok-fried broccoli.
Brigid Sullivan from La Cave uses tahini in Chinese cooking since sesame is an integral part of their cuisine. She says it can be used in any variety of combinations with miso, soy sauce, honey, lime, fish sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil for dressings and marinades.
The use of peanut butter in baking is limitless with thousands of recipes at one’s disposal. But have you thought of swapping out the classic peanut butter for tahini? The sesame paste lends an earthy and less sickly-sweet flavour. Brigid uses tahini as a substitute of any nut butter, particularly in biscuits, brownies and banana bread. Speaking of banana bread, Weave Eatery’s head chef Ashleigh Brodie’s favourite take on the classic is her banana, dark chocolate and tahini loaf recipe. Toasted with lashings of butter, it’s a must try!
When I worked for chef Maurice Montero, co-owner of the new Everyday Eatery, he taught me the recipe for his tahini granola. I loved the way it deepened the nuttiness of the granola and worked with the maple syrup to create a crunchy coating. If you’re lucky, he might put this on the menu at Everyday.
I love putting a spoonful of tahini in my banana smoothies and, if you have them on hand, add Medjool dates in the mix too. Add it into bliss balls or muesli slice for a healthy snack or, for something a little naughty, stir into a hot chocolate. However you decide to use tahini, you’ll love the rich creaminess of the Middle Eastern staple.
Quick ways with tahini:
-Stir into yoghurt
-Make into a salad dressing
-Use as a nut butter substitute
-Add to brownies, cookies or banana bread
-Blend into smoothies
-Use in hummus and baba ganoush