Tahini: A Vegan Staple of Middle Eastern Cooking

Tahini (also spelled: tahina) is a vegan seed butter produced from ground hulled sesame seeds. Some brands of tahini use raw seeds, while others use darkly roasted sesame. When made from roasted seeds, the tahini gains a rich and smoky flavor. You can spread tahini on bread like you can any sort of nut butter—if you take that route, be sure to add some sliced dates.

But tahini isn’t commonly a sandwich spread. Nearly all tahini goes into sauces, salad dressings, and hummus. It is one of the most important ingredients in Middle Eastern cooking.

Is Tahini Vegan?

Tahini (sesame seed butter) is invariably vegan and, like any seed-based food, is rich in protein, fat and several other nutrients.

One of the most common methods of preparation is to make a dressing from tahini. Often times, people improperly refer to this dressing as tahini, when it should really be called tahini sauce (or tahini dressing). This can create confusion, since Greek-style falafel restaurants usually add yogurt to their tahini dressing.

So, when eating out, always check whether the tahini dressing is dairy-free.

Purchasing Tahini

For such a simple food, the quality varies immensely from one brand to the next. I’ve found that tahini from the Middle East is typically vastly better than brands made in other parts of the world. Al Wadi tahini, which is made in Lebanon, is both inexpensive and perhaps the tastiest brand on the market.

Related pages: hummus, vegan foods.

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