Like hummus, tahini is a very popular food in Israel. It’s not only a key ingredient in hummus, but also stands on it’s own as a dip, sauce, or even as a salad dressing.
It is made from ground sesame seeds, and is used in baba ganoush, marinades, salad dressings, halva, spreads for sandwiches and crackers, as a topping for falafel and shwarma, and even in cookies. This spread is deliciously nutty and also high in calcium.
The word comes from the Arabic tahn, which is similar to the Hebrew tahun, for ‘ground’. It's actually pronounced “tcheenah” so if you ask for “taheenee” in Israel you might get a funny look.
A good quality product will be nutty and should not taste bitter. You can make it thick, or thin it out with more water for a light sauce. You’ll see this thinner version at falafel and shwarma stands for drizzling over the stuffed sandwiches.
Note to parents of young children: This is actually our secret weapon for getting our kids to eat more salad and vegetables!
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