A rich creamy paste, made from sesame seeds and sesame oil, which is used to enrich the flavor and texture of many Middle Eastern sweet and savory dishes. It is very similar to peanut butter (except thinner in consistency) and can be made by grinding sesame seeds with light sesame or vegetable oil, a little warm water, and salt. Tahini is packaged in jars or cans and is available made from raw seeds, roasted seeds and with or without salt. It is best served at room temperature and used as a sandwich spread, an appetizer spread, a dip, an ingredient in sauces for topping pasta and falafel, or mixed with onion and garlic seasonings as a salad dressing. Tahini can also be used in making a variety of desserts requiring a nut paste. Tahini is a key ingredient for making a hummus dip when mixed with chickpeas, or baba ghanouj dip when mixed with eggplant. Tahini is also known as sesame butter.
Tahini does not require refrigeration and can be stored for long periods of time in cool dry areas. When stored, the sesame oil may separate from the mixture of solids. This is due to the fact that tahini does not contain emulsifiers to keep the ingredients from separating. To re-mix the contents, turn the can or jar upside down for 30 minutes or so before using.