Thursday, April 24, 2008


Tahini from a jar is, I find, palate-coating, like a savoury form of peanut butter. It gives hummus a sludgy, adhesive quality. Making your own tahini is not complicated. There are two ingredients.

Recipes tell you to put the sesame seeds on to a baking sheet in a gas mark 4/180C oven for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring them every so often to make sure they do not brown. It is easier to cook them in a heavy saucepan over a low heat -- but you have to stir them regularly, and to recognise the point after which they will be overcooked. Toasted sesame seeds, delicious in a salad, are bitter in a tahini sauce.

I have a small, electric mill -- similar to what Delia Smith calls a mini-chopper. When the seeds are cool, I whizz them in the mill with sunflower oil. The standard ratio is about 4 parts sesame seeds to 1 part, or slightly more, of oil. It is a good idea to add the oil a little at a time, until you get the consistency you want. You need to whizz the mixture thoroughly -- and you are unlikely to get a completely smooth result.


pablopatito said...

Instead of making tahini, and then using the tahini to make hummus, could you just bung everything together in a blender in one go - ie sesame seeds, oil, chickpeas, garlic, lemon etc - to make an instant hummus?

Nicholas Clee said...

Yes, you could, and it would taste fine. However, with everything going into the blender at once, the sesame seeds would probably remain intact.