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Sep 29, 2013 04:59 PM

Is all tahini the same?

My mother adored halvah and as a kid it was pushed on me so much that when I can taste tahini in sauces, hummus or babganoush I have to stop eating something I'd otherwise be enjoying. I've experimented with tahini by reducing it in recipes, mixing it better into the other ingredients etc. but still it has that the halvah taste to me. Is there a brand out there that doesn't taste like halvah? I love sesame oil, toasted sesame, sesame bagels, but not halvah. I have quite a few Middle Eastern cookbooks and tahini pops up now and again. I have used other nut butters a substitute in the past so please no suggestions for what I can use instead.

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    1. re: chefj

      Thanks, no snark intended, but I was interested in more current posts.

      1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

        Also no snark intended, but has Tahini changed that much in the last three years? Living on the far edge of western civilization (and the near edge of eastern) I feel I may have missed something.

    2. I wonder if roasted tahini would taste different to you? I think the roasted tastes almost peanut buttery.

      1. Basically, what you're asking is whether there is any peanut butter that doesn't include peanuts. "Tahini," by definition, is "sesame butter". Just as "humus" and "babaganoush," by definition, include tahini. It sounds like you're exploring all of the usual work-arounds such as substituting other nut and seed butters.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Caroline1

          Too late to edit my post, so I'll just answer myself and hope you'll count it as an add on...

          What, specifically, are you looking for? Something that you can make at home or order in a restaurant that will be SORT OF like hummus, or what? If this is the case, here is a list of traditional "dips" that do not include tahini in their recipes, *IF* the recipe is authentic! And they're all traditional "mezes," the kind of appetizers you make a meal of with a glass of ouzo or raki.

          SKORDALIA A garlic flavor dip made with roasted garlic and potatoes.

          MELANZANOSALATA - When made properly, it's a mashed eggplant6 salad very similar to babaganoush but does NOT include tahini. But I suggest you ask before ordering it in a restaurant, because there seem to be a LOT of restaurateurs who don't have a clue!

          TIROKAFTERI A spicy traditional feta and fresh young green chile recipe.

          HTIPITI Similar to tirokaftiri and maybe a little more traditional. Made with feta cheese and large roasted and peeled red peppers. Today the dishes are pretty much interchangeable.

          TZATZIKI - a dip/sauce made with YOGURT (NOT sour cream!), shredded cucumber, fresh garlic, and olive oil.

          There are tons and tons of mezes dip recipes on the web, *IF* that's what you're looking for. Not all Midddle Eastern dips contain tahini, UNLESS you go to an "authentic" Middle Easter restaurant in the United States, where it is often a fusion mess of glop...

          Good luck!

          1. re: Caroline1

            Thanks, I just bought Ottolenghi's Plenty and have a few Middle Eastern cookbooks. I am primarily looking for dishes like babaganoush and hummus.

            1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

              Then give the melanzansalata (eggplant salad) a go because, basically, it *IS* babaganoush without the tahini. For humus you're going to be hard pressed simply because "true" humus is a mixture of chick peas and tahini, and for "humus," there's no getting around that. But instead of standard nut butter substitutions for tahini, you might try making your own "pine nut butter" by blending a whole bunch of pine nuts with enough light olive oil to get the right texture, then try it in place of tahini. Might be worth a shot. Meantime, good luck!

              1. re: Caroline1

                And of course Hummus is not always made with Tahina, it is only Humus bi Tahina that is. The version without uses ground cumin and olive oil in place of the tahina.

              2. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                Borani bademjan and kashkeh bademjan are Persian eggplant dips that are similar to baba ghannouj but are enriched with dairy products, rather than tahini.

                Conceivably you could try making hummus with yogurt or chickpea water to get a smooth consistency. There are plenty of delicious preparations which combine chickpeas and yogurt so I imagine this could be equally tasty.

          2. Halvah is made from tahini so it's not surprising that you find the taste of both to be challenging. You could try Chinese sesame paste to see if a toasted tahini appeals to your palate.

            1. I love halvah too :)

              in my home country we never use tahini in our halvas, so you might want to experiment with that and see if you change your mind... we make it from sunflower seeds

              what regards tahinis: no they are not the same! I love to buy organic, certified ones - the taste and quality can be quite different - to tell you the truth this never tasted halvah to me, but be careful add only a little as it does have a distinct taste!