Tahini sauce is a traditional recipe from Cyprus. It is served to alongside with grilled meat dishes and is used in place of the typical tzatziki sauce that is used in Greece.
The tahini sauce is a mixture of tahini paste (sesame paste), lemon juice, garlic, cumin and water. By adjusting the amount of the water, it get a rich creamy texture and served as a dipping sauce, or a thinner texture and served as a creamy sauce drizzled over grilled meats, salads or grilled vegetables. As dip it can be served as a paleo diet alternative to hummus. It is ideal for those with intolerance to dairy products or following a paleo diet.
The first time I tried it, was during my vacation in Cyprus in 1993. Since at my home in Greece, my mother did not cook anything from Cypriot cuisine. Therefore, I never had this sauce since my trip to Cyprus.
While I was doing the Whole30 Challenge, I could not have any dairy products. This kept my favorite tzatziki sauce out of my menu for at least a month and I had to find an alternative sauce. Hence, the memories of the tahini sauce resurfaced and I started experimenting to recreate it.
The sauce’s main ingredient is tahini, a super food, whose health benefits have been touted on many articles.
As each batch / brand of tahini paste is different, the amount of water needed to achieve the desired texture will vary. I have included the process and the basic measurements. The cook should add the ingredients slowly and keep a close eye on consistency and flavor throughout the mixing process.
When the tahini paste is combined with lemon juice, the mixture becomes thick and lumpy and is difficult to stir and mix other ingredients. By continuing to stir this lumpy mixture, it will result to a creamy, velvety consistency of the sauce / dip. But this needs quite some elbow grease… Therefore, it is recommended to use a blender, mixer or food processor and mix the tahini paste with some water first. Then add the lemon garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.
Once prepared, this recipe can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight glass container for up to 2 weeks.
Yield 2 cups
- 1 cup tahini
- 5 - 6 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 cup of water (more if you want a thinner consistency)
- In a food processor or high speed blender, add the tahini and about half cup water. Pulse a couple of times to incorporate the ingredients.
- Add the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and pulse a few times until you have a smooth creamy paste.
- Add water gradually and pulse after each addition, until you get the desired consistency. The amount of one cup of water to one cup pf tahini gives a hummus like texture to the sauce. If you would like to have a thinner sauce (e.g. to drizzle over grilled meats or a salad) then you need to add more water.
Cuisine Cypriot, Mediterranean
Note: The values for the nutrition information below, are based on servings of 1½ tablespoons