• Tahini sauce (Camellia Aebischer)Source: Camellia Aebischer
This popular Middle Eastern sauce is so addictive you’ll be pouring it on everything. #guilty
By
Camellia Ling Aebischer

29 Sep 2020 - 9:29 PM  UPDATED 30 Sep 2020 - 3:30 PM

Tahini sauce, called tarator in Arabic, is a popular staple of the Middle East. It’s made just using three ingredients (tahini, lemon and water, plus a little salt to taste) and can be served as a dip, dressing, sauce or condiment.

It's commonly served with grilled meats, fried cauliflower or in a sabich/kebab/falafel wrap.

cauli is calling
Fried cauliflower with tarator (arnabeet mekleh)

Cauliflower is so hot right now. This recipe has you dipping and drizzling it with tarator - it's like the Lebanese version of mayo.

The recipe is very flexible, and you can add more or less of the tahini/tehina to adjust its thickness. When it’s stirred, a magical reaction happens as the sesame paste emulsifies with the other liquids creating a thick paste. You can make it thinner for salad dressing, add more lemon to cut the richness or lean into the tang and omit the water. To be honest, I never measure anything, just eyeball the ratios.

Ad-ins are also almost endless: garlic, fresh herbs, cumin, chilli, harissa paste, paprika, etc. Break the rules of tradition and it can go on almost anything too.

Just one piece of advice when buying tahini, always buy hulled. The husk of the sesame seed is very bitter and hulled tahini will provide a smoother, sweeter taste.

I always prefer imported tahini as its smoother and runnier.

How to make it

Take ½ cup of tahini, the juice of ½ a lemon, a pinch of salt and a little splash of water and mix them together in a bowl. It will look sloppy and split at first but keep stirring and you will soon have a thick paste.

Add water a little at a time until you have your desired consistency. Water and lemon juice will make it thicken at first, but there will be a tipping point at which the sauce will thin again if you keep adding liquid.

Mopped up this bowl quickly with some bread after this photo was taken.

To add in fresh herbs, put everything in a blender or food processor and blend.

Alternatively, stir in any chopped herb, spice or other additions after it’s mixed.

 

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