Tahini: Here is what you need to know

this is tahini

What is Tahini?

Tahini is a paste comprised of ground sesame seeds that may or may have had their shells hulled before they were toasted and grounded.

Called the “Mayonnaise of Middle Eastern Cuisine”, it’s one of the most commonly used condiments of the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African regions.

Tahini is a multipurpose condiment – dressings, sauces, dips, hummus ingredients, etc.

There is so much this oily paste has to offer the consumer.

Best of all, it’s a vegan-friendly ingredient being it’s free of gluten and dairy.

What Does Tahini Mean In English?

Tahini originates from Arabic, but the dialects and meanings for it vary. For some, it means “to grind”, with others meaning “flour”. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the English language was introduced to the word, which was borrowed from the Greek word tachíni (ταχίνι) and meant “to grind”.

The name is likely the result of the grinding process the sesame seeds go through to remove the bran from the kernels.

There are various spelling variations of tahini, including tahine and tahina. The spelling is not indicative of a product difference but the world locations the product is sold and consumed.

What Does Tahini Taste Like?

There is a real nutty but earthy taste to Tahini, with some bitterness to it. Hulled tahini, or sesame seeds bran, produces a sweet taste mixed with the already earthy flavor. Unhulled tahini produces a savory, bitter taste. Seeds that are toasted lightly bring out that bitter flavor even more.

When thoroughly mixed, it produces a very smooth texture, as seen with most nut butters.

A Look At Tahini vs. Other Condiments, Sauces and Dips

When you compare tahini to other Mediterranean sauces, dips and condiments, there isn’t that much difference.

Tahini vs. Sesame Paste

Although the terms tahini and sesame paste are interchangeably used, there are notable differences between the both of them. For example, sesame paste, with its Asian cuisine roots, is usually toasted heavily to produce its vibrant, extremely smooth flavor. Tahini can be lightly or not at all toasted, is light in its color with a bit of bitter taste to it. Asian dishes that call for sesame paste should never replace the paste with tahini.

Tahini vs. Tzatziki (Taziki)

These are two Mediterranean condiments, but their flavor profiles are different. For instance, Tzatziki has a light, fresh cucumber-yogurt sauce. However, tahini has a thick, savory paste. Both condiments are great on hot dogs, but their flavors are vastly different.

Tahini vs. Peanut Butter

Tahini may resemble the texture and oiliness of nut butters. Peanut butter has a sweet taste, whereas tahini is a bit bitter and savory.

Hulled vs. Unhulled Tahini

Hulled and unhulled tahini have varying tastes. Hulled tahini pulls the sesame seed bran from its hull with a creamy texture and light flavor. It may also have a sweet flavor. Unhulled tahini grinds the whole sesame seed and has a rich, thick texture. It’s also rich in nutrients.

Tahini vs. Hummus

Tahini is one ingredient added to hummus, but the condiments are not the same. There are many differences between hummus and tahini.

Red Tahini vs. Green Tahini vs. Black Tahini: What Differences Are There Between Them?

Besides the commonly used type of tahini, there are three other kinds of tahini – red, black or green – to choose from. Each one has its own distinct flavor and texture that can affect the dish it goes into. What differences do these tahini types bring to their dishes?

Black Tahini

This variety of tahini is produced when black sesame seeds have been grounded into tahini. Of all tahini varieties, there is a nuttier, sweeter taste to it.

Green Tahini

This tahini type is added to ground sesame and mixed with lemon juice, herbs and various seasonings. Green tahini has plenty of seasonings in it but often has cilantro, cloves and parsley.

Red Tahini

Of all Tahini varieties, the red tahini roasts for much longer. It creates an intense flavor and generates a really reddish color. This tahini variety is used in many Gaza strip region recipes, including sumagiyya (lamb with sumac and chard).

Tahini Powder vs. Tahini Paste vs. Tahini Oil: Which One Is Better?

Similar to the different varieties of tahini, the form tahini comes in is different. Most people know it to be oily, similar to what’s seen in nut butter. However, it can also come in paste or powder form. What are the differences between the three?

Tahini Powder

Powdered tahini is made from ground sesame seeds. You can either do this yourself or buy a dry tahini mix. These mixes usually have ground sesame seeds, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, parsley and many other seasonings.

Tahini Paste

The most commonly seen tahini form in stores is tahini paste, which is usually found in jars, as you’d seen with nut butters. You can purchase hulled or unhulled tahini from a store in an array of varieties at a local grocery store.

Tahini Oil

Tahini already contains oil, but there is no product on the market marketed explicitly as tahini oil. Instead, it’s called sesame oil. Bear in mind that both tahini oil and sesame oil are two different products

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