Sesame may be one of humanity’s oldest condiments, but who knows? There’s no telling which of our ancestors first gathered the scattered seeds from those miraculous pods, or when someone discovered that they can be ground and pressed to yield a tasty, long-lasting oil.
For a tiny, pale, teardrop-shaped seed, sesame has had a major impact on the world’s cuisine — and literature, most famously in the Arabian Nights.
The famous, magical command from Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves — “Open, sesame!” — likely references the sesame plant’s seedpod, which bursts open at ripeness to disperse seemingly countless seeds.
What we do know is that sesame provides the base for many delectable culinary preparations, from Asian confections and Middle Eastern desserts to savory sauces for dishes like falafel.
This week’s recipe for homemade tahini paste starts with prepared tahini, from the supermarket or a Middle Eastern grocery store like JuJu’s in Napa. Tahini paste is sold as either a thick paste or a more liquid, runny version.
“I personally prefer the more liquid paste, since it is easier to work with,” Ronit says. “Our favorite brand, Sadaf Tahini, is usually available in Middle Eastern stores.”
As with many of our favorite foods, there’s no One Right Way to make tahini paste or sauce. Some people prefer more lemon juice, others like it more garlicky; you can make the paste thicker, or thin it to a pourable sauce.
The secret, Ronit says, is to whisk it together gradually — don’t add the water all at once and risk clumping the sauce.
This recipe offers a starting point for you to craft your own tahini condiment.
Get the recipe »» Easy Homemade Tahini Paste