Open sesame.

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Tahini £6.80

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What is it

A paste made from ground sesame seeds.


The difference between one brand of tahini and the next is huge. Some can be claggy whilst others are smooth and nutty. Al Arz is our go-to.


Tahini should be kept in a cool, dry place (code for kitchen cupboard), away from heat and moisture. Like peanut butter, store tahini in the fridge if you like it thicker.


Tahini is more than an oily paste made of ground sesame seeds. Like olive oil, it has been made around the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa for centuries. And it requires some serious crushing. There’s a lot of expertise, local knowledge and pride involved in tahini making.

Regular tahini is made with hulled sesame kernels. They are roasted and crushed, making a thick, oily block that eventually separates into oil and solid. If any readers are avid tahini fans, you will know that it sometimes takes a vigorous stir to bring it back to a pourable paste. Whole tahini, however, is made by keeping some or all of the hull, and in some cases not toasting the seeds. It’s richer, but can also be a bit gritty. This is best on toast with a drizzle of honey. As custom in Iraq and Turkey.

But the best sesame seeds for tahini are said to be the Ethiopian kind, thanks to the richness in flavour. The source of the sesame isn’t usually listed on jars sold in the UK, nor the method of production. But generally speaking, the Israeli, Lebanese and Palestinian brands are better to the Greek and Cypriot. More flavoursome and less claggy.

How to cook with kimchi

Tahini is a big star in the Ottolenghi-verse. You can do pretty much anything with it. Tahini sauce - a mix of tahini paste, water, garlic, lemon juice and salt - is a go-to fridge staple, ready to do some heavy lifting in any of your weeknight meals. From veg to fish, meat to sweet.

Spruce up your vegetables

The rich, nutty sauce gives body to a bowl of greens. Make it into a salad dressing and add to your next quick lunchtime salad. It’s also a good friend of roasted veg.

All things sweet

Tahini lends itself wonderfully to all things sweet. Adding a drizzle onto some ice cream, or a swirl into your brownies, opens up a whole new dimension of tahini. Start with our sweet tahini rolls.

“Chef, if you could only have tahini sweet or savoury for the rest of your life, which would it be?”

The votes are in. Jake, Verena, and Milli all went for savoury. Chaya, standing alone, voted sweet. It was a pretty hard decision for all and they wanted that to be noted.