Sesame paste or Tahini is one of the basic kitchen essentials in Mediterranean cuisine and in many other countries.
I finally started making Tahini at home. Tired of lingering in the aisles, and a hundred “should I or should I not” while I held the bottle of sesame paste with a high price tag stuck to it, I walked out without a jar this time.
It was time for another “homemade”.
Tahini is used in many countries in many different ways. Besides being a dip, which is probably one of more common uses, combined with mashed garlic and lemon juice, it is also used to make sauce, spreads ( by itself as a nut butter or in hummus!) and even in desserts. So it is basically an item in the kitchen which maybe used from the morning at the breakfast table to a lavish bowl of halva for dessert saved after dinner.
Light sesame seeds are preferred. Sesame seeds are available easily and do not cost as much.
Tightly toast the sesame seeds and cool.
Add a little olive oil and process until it starts to break down and forms a coarse paste.
Add more olive oil in a steady stream while processing until it forms a creamy and whipped paste.
Besides the more traditional uses, I use sesame paste to make sauce for Indian dishes. Sesame is widely used in Indian cooking and the well ground, fluffy white paste adds a wonderful creamy texture and nutty aroma to the dish. I have used Tahini to make Paneer, eggplant, chicken, potatoes… ummm… practically everything.
This has become another of my “must have” condiments.
Ingredients: (makes approximately 2/3 cup)
- 1 cup sesame seed (preferably seeds of lighter shade)
- 3 tablespoon olive oil + more if needed
- splashes of water (try not to use water if you going to store the paste for a long time. only use if using it immediately and if you blender is not cooperating with you)
- salt to taste (optional)
Lightly toast the sesame seeds over low heat about 6-7 minutes, tossing them often. Watch closely as they are delicate and will brown very quickly. Once they start to change color, there will be an unmistakable nutty aroma. Remove the pan from the heat immediately and transfer the seeds to a plate to cool.
The sesame seeds can be toasted the oven too. Heat oven to 350F and place the seeds on a baking tray in a thin layer. Toast for about 7- 10 minutes or until light golden brown (adjust time to oven and also watch seeds). Remove and cool.
Add the toasted sesame seeds to a blender (I have used Blendtec) or food processor with the 3 tablespoon of olive oil and pulse until the seeds break up and start to form a coarse paste. Add more olive oil if needed (to make a creamy thinner paste) and scrape the sides frequently and process. If you are using regular blender and you think the blender cannot handle it, add a splash of water to ease it. Adding water will reduce the shelf life of the paste. It is best to use olive oil.
If you have a good blender it should whip up a wonderful creamy, fluffy paste. If not, it still works. It only does not look as nice!
Store in covered jars in the refrigerator. It will stay for at least a month or more.
Notes: the paste will have a darker shade if the seeds are roasted to a darker shade. Also the original/commercial Tahini is usually made from hulled sesame seeds, so the texture and the shade of color is usually different from the homemade one.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Makes: about 2/3 cup
Difficulty Level: Very Easy.
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