Tahini is a much loved sauce in Cyprus, made from sesame seeds. The roasted seeds are finely ground in a stone mill and end up as a thick paste, known as ‘tahini’. This paste forms the base of tahini sauce, which is popular in Cyprus (and less so in Greece) as a dip or side dish.
Tahini is also often used in dishes such as the tasty and nutritious ‘tahinosoupa’ (tahini vegetable soup). In Cyprus, tahini paste is also used to make the delicious traditional sweet pastries known as ‘tahinopites’. Tahinopites, which combine two nutritious ingredients, sesame seeds and carob honey, are found in every bakery in Cyprus. We will soon be publishing a recipe for them, so check back for it!
Nowadays you can easily find tahini in many stores outside the Greek world. If you can’t find it in your local supermarket, then you should be able to find it in health food stores or ethnic food stores.
Here’s our tahini recipe for an easy way to turn the tahini paste into the well-loved sauce or dip.
150gr tahini paste
1 lemon - the juice (50 - 60ml)
1 clove garlic
120ml water or more if a more runny consistency is preferred
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
- Put the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic and water in a bowl and use a blender or food processor to mix well for a minute or so
- Check the flavour and the consistency – it should be runny enough to easily drop off a spoon
- Add more lemon if required (as well as adding flavour, this will thicken the sauce)
- Add more water if the consistency is not as creamy and runny as required – this will make the sauce runnier
- Add the olive oil
- Taste as you add the seasoning
- Serve with toasted pitta bread, toasted bread or carrot, celery and other vegetable sticks
- Use tahini sauce as a dip or starter. It is sometimes called ‘tahinosalata’
- Tahini sauce can also be put on the table to accompany any family meal or be part of a meze feast
- Tahini sauce accompanies the traditional Cypriot souvlaki (kebab) served in pitta bread. If take away is ordered you can ask for extra tahini which is served in a plastic tub
- Using hot water in the food processor helps to loosen the tahini paste if it is thick
- Bear in mind that lemon juice thickens the sauce and the water loosens it
- If no blender/food processor is available, a bowl and a fork can do the job just as well like Kitipos's wife in our story of a traditional souvlaki bar
- Tahini can be served without any decoration but if you prefer then sprinkle chopped parsley over it or just place an olive in the middle or add lemon slices or peel as a garnish