Cuisine - - CHOP CHOP -

TAHINI IS ONE IN­GRE­DI­ENT in my cup­board that de­serves a shout out. I think of it as some­thing that gets used reg­u­larly but not nec­es­sar­ily ev­ery­day – although given its suit­abil­ity for most things, it pos­si­bly should be. Thrown into smooth­ies, the clas­sic tahini yoghurt sauce, into dress­ings or even sweets, it’s in­fin­itely adapt­able.

It is es­sen­tially sesame seeds – ei­ther hulled or un­hulled, roasted or raw – that are ground to a paste. Un­hulled tahini tends to be darker in colour and slightly bit­ter. Black tahini is made from un­hulled black sesame seeds; it’s richer, darker, slightly bit­ter and rather ad­dic­tive (let’s face it, a hum­mus rang­ing in colour from gun­metal to black is al­ways go­ing to be a quirky winner, es­pe­cially around Hal­loween).

You can use tahini as a sub­sti­tute for Chi­nese sesame paste – although the Chi­nese ver­sion is un­hulled, roasted and stronger in flavour – but you might want to pump up the flavour with a lit­tle ex­tra roasted sesame oil.

Hum­mus In an ideal world I would be soak­ing and cook­ing chick­peas to make hum­mus. But there are al­ways tins of chick­peas in the pantry to make a quick batch if nec­es­sary. I blitz 1-2 cloves gar­lic with the juice of a le­mon. Then add 400g of tinned chick­peas (drained and rinsed) with ½ cup tahini, ½ tea­spoon ground cumin, a pinch chilli flakes, 1 tea­spoon sea salt, ¼ cup wa­ter and ¼ cup ex­tra vir­gin olive oil. Blitz un­til smooth and ad­just sea­son­ings and liquids to taste.

Asian-style tahini dress­ing for use in slaws, adding to cold or hot noo­dles, as a dip­ping sauce or as sauce for steamed or stir-fried veg­eta­bles. Com­bine 3 ta­ble­spoons tahini, 2 tea­spoons each rice wine vine­gar, toasted sesame seeds, roasted sesame oil, maple syrup or honey and soy sauce. Add the zest and juice 1 lime and stir to com­bine.

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