The amount of ways to spell this wonder speaks to how versatile this can be in the kitchen. One of the things that I missed most about Israel when I was in Brazil was tehina. Now, getting ready to leave here again, I’ve already started to miss it. Not that you can’t get tehina elsewhere. I’ve even found it in most supermarkets in Brazil, at a less than fair price. But truth be told, I was never a tehina believer until I moved to Tel Aviv, and sadly the tehina I’ve tasted everywhere else just doesn’t compare to what I’ve grown to love so much.
You always hear in Israel, “I make the best tehina” or “No, seriously you haven’t tried tehina until you’ve tried (insert brand name here)”. For some reason all the most reputable brand names are called by various animals that appear on the label- Eagle, Giraffe, Pigeon. Why these animals are associated with sesame paste I don’t know but who really cares when what they contain is so sublimey delicious. While living in Tel Aviv I made it a point to test all the most popular brands and do a comparison to figure out which is really “the best tehina ever”. The clear winner: Tehina Yona (Pigeon.). Tehina comes in variety of colors based on the original color of seeds, golden or white, and the treatment they receive while being processed, toasted or untoasted. The yona is 100% ground white sesames and is pure deliciousness.
When I realized that there was no post on tehina sauce I figured it was necessary as it is a staple for every Israeli household, and is becoming widely popular in the states because of it’s nutritional value and versatility. It is fairly straight forward and completely depends on your personal tastes, do you like it creamy or more liquidy, pure and simple or amped up with various add-ins — garlic, parsley, olive oil, paprika….. tehina is one of those base sauces that can stand up to almost any other flavor and still be delicious (in fact, on a recent edition of Israeli version of Masterchef someone made a savory tehina sauce with vanilla- the judges seemed to like it… and that’s right I somehow still got caught into the trap of Masterchef all the way in Brazil). My personal favorite is to have it with a roasted eggplant and salad.
Anyways enough of my shenanigans- here’s to the good stuff. Two versions: One classy and one dressed up in flavors you wouldn’t expect, but oh so delicious. So this is my tribute to you my creamy white gem of an accompaniment.
Keep it Simple Tehina
about a 1/2 cup raw Tehini Paste (can be bought now in most stores and if not definitely at all health food stores)
up to 1 cup Pure Water
Juice from half to a whole lemon
Start by mixing the tehina and the water with a fork. Don’t freak out, the mixture will get thicker and oddly chunky before it thins out. Once it becomes smooth start by adding the juice from one half of the lemon, stir until once again smooth. Taste and adjust depending on your palate. More lemon juice for more zest, more water to thin out, or more tehina to thicken. Add salt if you please.
Dressed Up Tehina
Same thing as above, but with the lemon juice add in:
a few sprigs Mint, chopped
1 large glove garlic, chopped
Stir until consistency seems right.