Tahini is a butter type paste made from toasted, ground sesame seeds. It has a light, nutty flavor.
You can find tahini in the cuisines of the Mediterranean and the Middle East; the earliest known mention of it dates back to 3500 BC.
Tahini is often blended into classic dips, such as hummus and baba ghanoush. Grinding sesame seeds turns them into a thick, oily paste similar in texture to natural peanut butter.
Tahini-based sauces appear widely in Armenian, Turkish, Iraqi, Cypriot, Greek, East Asian, and Indian food. The popularity now extends well into western nations such as the U.S.
Quick Fact About Tahini
- Tahini is a paste or butter made from ground sesame seeds.
- It is a key ingredient in hummus and in baba ganoush, an aubergine dip.
- It provides good amounts of protein and various minerals.
- Tahini is also high in calories, and it should be eaten in moderation.
Tahini Nutritional Profile
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, a 2-tablespoon (tbsp) serving of tahini made from roasted sesame seeds and weighing 30 grams (g) contains:
- 178 calories
- 16.13 g of fat
- 6.36 g of carbohydrates
- 2.8 g of fiber
- 0.15 g of sugar
- 5.1 g of protein
That same 2-tbsp serving provides:
- 8 percent of magnesium
- 22 percent of phosphorus
- 14 percent of iron
- 12 percent of calcium
Origins of Tahini
History writes about the cultivation of sesame 3500 years ago in the region of the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia. It was mainly used as a source of oil.
First instances of tahini recipes can be found in an anonymous 13th-century Arabic cookbook, Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada.
Tahini can also be sourced in sesame paste as an ingredient in some Chinese and Japanese dishes.
In fact, Sichuan cuisine uses it in some recipes for dandan noodles. Sesame paste can also be found in Indian cuisine.
When it comes to North America, Tahini can be found in the markets around the 1940s, making Tahini a true globetrotter.
Cultural Influence of Tahini
Food is truly a bridger of gaps, cultures, experiences, and love. F
How is Tahini Stored?
Because of tahini’s high oil content, some manufacturers recommend refrigeration to prevent spoilage.
Others do not recommend refrigeration, as it makes the product more viscous and more difficult to serve.
So storage of Tahini depends on the type of tahini, intended use, and duration of use. If you use tahini frequently, storing it in a cool dry place like your pantry can be effective. Higher quality long term tahini should be refrigerated.
What is Tahini Paste?
Tahini paste is grinding the sesame seeds and turning them into a thick, oily paste similar in texture to natural peanut butter.
Tahini can have different paste levels depending on how it is made and the specific intended use of the tahini.
There are a lot of brands that might add preservatives or other chemicals to their tahini, but rest assured you can also find high-quality organic tahini.
The difference between organic tahini and regular tahini can be the tahinis sourcing. USDA Organic Tahini, Non-GMO Project Verified Tahini products will usually identify their organic nature, so make sure to read the labels.
How to Eat Tahini
You can eat good tahini right from the jar, but it might be best enjoyed in a classic manner as the main ingredient in hummus, or more adventurously, drizzled over fruit, swirled into cheesecake, or as a marinade for chicken or lamb.