Many of us have used or heard of tahini, but do you actually know what it is? This Middle Eastern condiment or paste is made from grinding and roasting sesame seeds. There are references to tahini being used as far back as 3500 BC!
Now, this paste is used across the globe and is popular in many different cuisines from Asia to Turkey. Something that can stick around for that long must be worth it. In this article, learn what the ingredient tahini is and if it’s vegan. If you’re in a rush, don’t worry it’s totally vegan.
What Is Tahini?
If you’ve used tahini before, you may notice that it can have a similar texture and smell to peanut butter. However, this staple paste is made with nothing more than the humble sesame seed.
The seeds are hulled, which means the out husk has been removed. You can tell if a sesame seed is unhulled as it will be slightly golden-brown in color compared to the usual white color you expect.
When you purchase the seeds in a grocery store, they will have been hulled during the manufacturing process. These seeds are ground with a little oil until a smooth paste is formed, which is why it is so easy to make from scratch.
So, Is Tahini Vegan?
Yes, tahini is vegan! There’s no stopping you now. As it is made from a few simple ingredients such as sesame seeds, oil and maybe a little salt, it is suitable for those following a vegan diet.
- Sesame seeds – these seeds come from the fruit of the Sesamum Indicum plant found in Indonesia. These seeds have been cultivated from the plant for around 4000 years.
- Oil – homemade tahini often contains oil to help loosen up the paste and give it the characteristic creamy texture. If no oil is added, natural sesame oil can be found in the paste. When making tahini yourself, you can control which oil you use.
- Salt – salt is often added to tahini and is completely vegan.
Unfortunately, if you have a sesame seed allergy then you cannot consume tahini safely.
How Is Tahini Used?
This delicious and versatile paste can be used in any number of recipes. The strong earthy and nutty flavors are what make it so popular, despite the slight bitterness. Here is a breakdown of the most common ways to use tahini.
All vegans are familiar with the creamy goodness of hummus. Regardless of what you eat hummus with or the kind of hummus you enjoy, tahini will be one of the staple ingredients in the recipe. Making hummus without tahini is like making brownies without chocolate, weird.
Another vegan staple that coincidentally pairs perfectly with hummus is the falafel. Considered to be ‘fast food’ the falafel is a mixture of chickpeas and spices that are rolled into small balls. Tahini can be used to create a sauce to serve with the falafels or be mixed into the falafel mixture itself.
Baba ghanoush is similar in texture to hummus, but it is made with eggplant. The eggplant can be either grilled or roasted to draw out some wonderful smoky flavors that give the dish its signature flavor. Tahini is added to vegetables along with other essential ingredients such as lemon juice, garlic, oil, and salt.
Is Tahini Good For You?
Tahini contains a number of nutrients that have numerous health benefits. For example, the paste contains selenium which behaves in the same way as an antioxidant, helping to lower inflammation in the body.
Containing more protein than milk and many types of nuts; protein is essential for building and repairing our muscles and bones.
Other benefits include energy boosts, improved brain function and protection against heart disease and strokes. This comes from the rich source of B and E vitamins found in tahini, along with minerals such as magnesium and iron.
Tahini is a simple paste that is commonly used in many cuisines, although it’s simple it has a plethora of health benefits as well as tasting delicious.
It is vegan and gluten-free, so can be used to create a wide variety of dishes for people with dietary requirements. We hope you found this article interesting and informative, giving you the run-down on what tahini is made from and how best to use it.