Tahina is the other name of tahini, when pronounced in Hebrew. It is a Middle Eastern ground sesame paste used in cooking. The paste is prepared from hulled, lightly roasted sesame seeds, and is a major component of several Middle Eastern dishes. However, there is a difference between the Middle Eastern tahina and the East Asian sesame paste. While tahina is made of hulled seeds, the East Asian sesame paste is prepared from unhulled seeds. Besides, the East Asian sesame paste is relatively bitterer as well as higher on various nutrients.
Etymological details of ‘tahina’: As already said, ‘tahina’ is the Hebrew pronunciation of the word ‘tahini’. The word ‘tahini’ is used in English as an Arabic loanword, which means ‘to grind’. Tahini originated in Iran as ‘ardeh’ or the ‘holy food’.
Tahina can be easily prepared at home or can be bought at a Middle Eastern grocer. The homemade tahina can be prepared with the help of sesame seeds and olive oil. Given below are the steps needed to be followed for the preparation of tahina at home:
o The oven is preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
o The sesame seeds are then placed on a baking sheet and spread evenly on it, so that none of them are in contact with each other.
o The seeds are then baked for almost 10 minutes, or till the time they release a pleasant smell.
o After toasting the sesame seeds, they are removed from the oven and allowed to cool.
o The seeds are put into a blender after being cooled.
o Olive oil is added to the seeds.
o The sesame seeds are then perfectly blended until it takes the form of a thick paste.
o The tahina paste is then ready to be stored in the refrigerator.
Uses of Tahina
The tahina paste is a vital ingredient that is used not only in a large number of Middle Eastern dishes, but also in other cuisines. In many Israeli and Arab restaurants, tahina-based sauces are used as side dishes. It is a popular condiment in the Middle Eastern cuisine for vegetables and meat. Even in soups, tahina is a compulsory ingredient. In spite of its flavor and texture being different, if used as a spread, it can be used to replace peanut butter on bread. Tahina is gradually becoming a part of the European cuisine as well since it is often used in some pre-packaged sandwiches.
Tahina is fairly available in the market and is inexpensive. It is indeed a very useful ingredient that can make any dish a delicacy with just a dash of it.