Tahini Scores Very High in the Favorite List
of Most Nutritionists and Health-Conscious
People in the World.
Tahini has become a well-praised dressing worldwide. And for a good reason! In addition to its delicious taste, Tahini is a source of high quality protein, is cholesterol-free, and has high nutritious benefits.
I have talked a little about Tahini in my recipe of Tuna Bathed in Tahini. However, this amazing sesame paste deserves an article by itself. Let me tell you what is Tahini, why we Lebanese mothers and cooks use it in many of our dishes, and what has made it so popular among the nutritionists.
You have probably seen the name on the International Food shelves of major supermarkets in North America. It is a paste of dark beige color, sold in medium-tall containers of glass or plastic. Recently, I have noticed them also in large cans.
During the past seven years, I have seen more and more food companies producing it in this part of the world. The only reason is that the demands for this highly nutritious ingredient have been increasing significantly. And for a good reason!
The Tahini is rich in Calcium ( 42% in 100 gr), in Iron (50% in 100 gr) and in lecithin. It contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15, minerals copper, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, selenium, sodium, and all the essential amino acids, which means, it is a high source of good protein. Adding that it has very little salt, (about 4% in 115 mg) and contains 0% Cholesterol!
Made from toasted sesame seeds, the Tahini comes out as an oily paste. Oily yes, but remember: 0% Cholesterol! Sesame consumption is nothing new.
It goes as far in recorded time as 4000 years in the Middle-East where it was used initially for its precious oil, and to make a certain honoring wine.
Tahini is an Arabic term deriving from the verb “grind”, for the grounded sesame seeds. The first recorded mentioned of the Tahini was in the recipe of the Hummus in “the anonymous 13th-century Arabic cookbook, Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada.”* (Translated, it would be: The Book of Description of the Customary Meals).
It remains that Lebanon and its surrounding countries are not the only nations consuming Tahini in their meals. It exists in the cuisines of Armenia, Greece, Cyprus, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Iraq, Palestine, Israel and some of North Africa countries. Asian nations also used paste of sesame seeds.
Tahini is also a Greek term with the same meaning as the Arabic. I am not surprised. Let me tell you why:
The Arabic Language ensued from the preexisting Phoenician Semitic one. Our Phoenician ancestors created the Alphabet I am using now to communicate with you. They were traders known to be peaceful, knowledgeable, and skilled in numerous fields.
Back then, the impact of their civilization was so impressive that the sea, which we call today the Mediterranean, held the official name of “The Phoenician Sea” for 6000 years.
They implemented their advanced knowledge and skills on their colonies and shared it with all the other countries on The Phoenician Sea.
That included the Alphabet they created as a mean of effective communication between their fellow traders. The receiving countries learned it, adapted it to their language and acquired terms used by the Phoenicians.
Greece, which many islands had different dialects, saw it as an important tool to unite the language back then. In this context, I do need to mention King Kadmus, father of the Phoenician Princess Europa. It is said that, in his search through the Greek coast for his kidnapped daughter, he built the infrastructure of the many of the Mediterranean towns where he stopped, bringing in the advanced Phoenician engineering of that ancient time.
The Tahini Sauce in Our Recipes
The Tahini sauce is sometimes named familiarly Tarator by our locals. It is used in various of our Lebanese recipes. You probably know it as the main dressing for the Falafel. But we use it for more than that. It is a main component of some of our dishes and an accompanied sauce for many other ones.
To name some:
- Our so famous Northern Samke Harra (Spicy Fish)
- Our Tajen, or as you know it now from my recipe: Tuna Bathed in Tahini,
- The sauce or dressing for the Beef Shawarma and the Chicken Shawarma,
- A component of our delicious Chick Peas Fatteh with Yogurt
- Baba Ghannouj
- Tahini & Yogurt Beets Salad
- A dressing for our Fried Cauliflower dish
- A dressing for our Fried Eggplants dish
- Halaweh Fudge and Spread
- Tahini Chickpeas Salad
- and the list goes on and on.
* Alice Fordham (October 10, 2008). “Middle Eats: What are Lebanon’s chances of legally laying claim to hummus?”
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