Thursday, August 1, 2013

Israeli Tahini

My mother was recently here for a three day visit. One of the treats she made us was homemade tahini. She also brought the recipe with her from her first cookbook.

I don't know why, but the recipe is entitled "Tahini Salad", although I would not classify it as a salad at all. Here is what is says:

  • 100 grams tahini
  • about 100 grams of water
  • lemon juice to suit your taste
  • garlic, lemon, parsley
  • stir the tahini with the water and the lemon juice
  • add as a condiment ground garlic, salt and chopped parsley
  • The density of the tahini is dependent, of course, on the amount of water. It is possible to reduce or increase the amount of water, depending on the thickness you want.
My mother no longer relies on the exact directions given in her first cookbook, of course. She doesn't measure everything, and she just has a sense of how much of each ingredient is needed. We did not have parsley as one of the ingredients on hand, so no parsley was used.

The ingredients my mother  used were 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of one lemon, a sprinkling of salt and, of course, the tahini and water. Tahini is a sesame paste made from ground, hulled sesame seeds. It has a very high fat content and is good for people on a low carb diet.  Even though I never use them, it was good that I had on hand both a primitive hand powered juicer and a press for the lemons and the garlic.

My mother prepared the lemon juice and the garlic and the water and tahini in the kitchen.

Then she added the water to the tahini.

By this time, Bow, who was watching us from the pens felt a little left out, so we took everything and finished the preparation in the pens. My mother showed Bow what she was doing and also explained it.

The first batch was for an event at Orchard House. Lanie Frick spoke about the transformation of her artistic process. It was a great talk, and the refreshments afterwards included my mother's tahini, which was very well received. 

Before she left, my mother made another batch for us to enjoy at home. Here is some footage of  Bow savoring his portion.

Normally, one uses the pita bread to dip in the tahini. I explained that to Bow, and he had seen it demonstrated, too. But he preferred to do things his way. First he ate the pita bread, and afterwards he licked the tahini off the plate.

Whichever way you decide to eat it, Israeli tahini is very good. You might be tempted to lick the plate yourself, if you run out of pita bread.


  1. I have made tahini in the past, but the way your mom does it looks better than what I found online. I always believed the best cooks do not need exact measurements, and it gets annoying when someone on YouTube asks about it. Honestly, I think the more a person cook's they refine recipes and make these their own.

    1. Thanks, Julia. Which way did you make it?

      I agree about good cooks not needing to measure everything and making recipes their own.

  2. I used a recipe off allrecipes, but this was back in 2006. It was with raw sunflower seeds, but I like how your mom does it with a sesame paste, which I think might give it more flavor. This just looks like a better way to make it than what I spotted before.

    1. Yes, sesame paste is definitely the traditional main ingredient for tahini.

  3. I am with Bow, and will lick it off the plate...and the spoon...and the bowl...!

    1. Come over sometime, Lin, and we'll make a new batch.