Eli's Tahini Sauce
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Everything tastes better with tahini, almost every Israeli claim that. Israeli kids have their first tahini taste in their baby food (added for its high amount of nutrients), they grow up a bit and snack on pita with hummus or sweet tahini spread (made with tahini and date syrup) in daycares. I grew up in the '70s and '80s when the ultimate birthday parties food was pita bread halves with hummus or tahini spread, and a slice of pickled cucumbers tucked in. Back then commercial versions of tahini were every family's go-to for a picnic lunch and a must-have for a cookout. Falafel stands, on the other hand, provided a completely different tahini experience - a much runny, liquid gold sauce to top over a loaded pita.
I remember fondly my family's long summer days on the beach, grilling shish kebabs and dipping every meat bite in the best-ever homemade rich tahini sauce, that Eli, a close family friend, made. Thick, with extra garlic and extra extra lemon juice, plus a few seeds that accidentally fell in the sauce, and somehow made it even more worthy of the title The Queen of all Tahini Sauces.
When shopping for tahini paste, we always prefer Lebanese or Israeli-made ones. The tahini manufacturers in these countries use Humera seeds (grown in the town of Humera, Ethiopia) that are suitable for grinding and producing tasty tahini. So delicious that you can pour it straight from the jar on roasted vegetables, salads, meat, and fish. Keep tahini paste always in your pantry (no need to refrigerate), there are so many ways you can use it. To make the classic tahini sauce you only need salt, lemon, and garlic. With a few additional ingredients and steps and you can make green tahini, baba ghanoush dip, or sweet tahini spread. Variations are endless: add chopped nuts to a more textured tahini dip, pair it with plain yogurt, which naturally has an acidic taste (to enhance it even more squeeze in some lemon juice), or blend with pureed beet for purple tahini. Serve any tahini sauce with pita bread, fresh-cut, or roasted veggies, next to cooked lentils, or chopped salad, or use it as a spread for sandwich bread. Keep prepared tahini sauces in the fridge for up to 3 days, sweet tahini can be stored in the pantry for weeks.
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup (240 gr) tahini
3/4 cup cold water, or more, for desired consistency
4-6 garlic cloves, minced (add even more, if you wish)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (2 small lemons or one large), or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Mix tahini paste, garlic, salt, and lemon juice in a bowl.
Add the water slowly and mix until it reaches the preferred consistency. Do not let the hard and sticky mixture (that you get right after adding the water) intimidate you, just keep mixing it manually with a fork, until the water breaks the tahini paste’s particles, and you get a smooth sauce.
Taste and adjust flavor. Add more lemon juice, garlic, or salt, if desired.
Serve with chopped salad, roasted vegetables, or grilled meat.