About TahiniTahini, also known as sesame paste, is a paste made from ground sesame seeds that is used frequently in Middle Eastern, North African and Asian cuisine; it also appears in some Indian cuisine. The North African and western Asian tahini tends to be derived from hulled, lightly roasted sesame seeds whereas eastern Asian tahini is made from unhulled seeds. Tahini is a main ingredient in hummus (chickpeas with tahini). It can be sold either fresh or dehydrated and many American markets now carry jarred tahini. Tahini can also be purchased in health food stores and gourmet shops.
Tahini is used in a variety of dishes spanning several different ethnic groups. In the Middle East, tahini-based sauces are used as side dishes or for garnish and usually include other ingredients such as lemon juice, salt, garlic and just a little water to thin the mixture. It is also highly popular as a condiment for meat and vegetable dishes and can even function as a main ingredient in some soups. Tahini can be used interchangeably with peanut butter as a spread for bread or sandwiches but the flavor and texture are vastly different.
Sesame seeds, like all other seeds, have a high caloric content but they have many nutritional benefits. They are loaded with many essential vitamins and minerals, including thiamine (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin (Vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (B5), vitamin B6, folate (Vitamin B9), iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.
Sesame possesses two unique compounds that belong to a special beneficial group of fibers called lignins. They have been clinically proven to reduce cholesterol and also prevent high blood pressure and have shown to increase Vitamin E supplies in animals. One of the fibers, sesamin, has been shown to protect the liver from oxidative damage.
Sesame seeds have been found to possess the highest phytosterol content out of nuts and seeds commonly eaten in the United States, with 400 - 413 mg. per 100 grams. Phytosterols are compounds found in plants that have a similar chemical structure to cholesterol and when ingested in certain amounts, are believed to reduce blood cholesterol levels, enhance the immune response and decrease the risk for certain cancers.
How to EnjoyEdit
Tahini can be used as a spread for bread. Spread tahini on a piece of toast and drizzle with honey for a simple dessert or mix with white miso and put on bread for a savory appetizer. Make hummus as a simple but tasty dip for a casual or fancy dinner party. Serve with crudités or crackers. Try this simple hummus recipe to get you started; feel free to play with the seasonings until the desired effect is achieved.
Hummus (Base Recipe)Edit
- 2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic, halved
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 pinch paprika
- 1 tsp. minced fresh parsley
Place the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.
Drizzle olive oil over the hummus and sprinkle with a pinch of paprika and the parsley; you can also use a pinch of cayenne pepper if you like a little heat.