Tag Archives: tahini

Tehina Tehina Everywhere

Tehina//Tehini//Tahini//Tahina

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.

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Filed under Israeli, Jewish

Tehina Cookies

Cookies are so photogenic

Someone at my yoga studio requested I make them tehina cookies. Tehina is sesame seed paste and is used prolifically in Israeli foods, like hummushalvah, or straight up as a condiment with falafel. Obviously jumping at the opportunity for an excuse to make cookies I immediately set to the task. I never fail to be in awe of the strange properties of tehina. It can be liquid or turned into a solid, savory or sweet…. whatever it is made into, it’s bound to be delicious.

These little cookies are no exception. It’s similar in a way to the nuttiness of peanut butter. They taste like halvah and melt in your mouth. These are SO easy and quick to make. They will not disappoint. You can easily double the recipe, or use margarine instead of butter to make it dairy-free.
Click on for the recipe!

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Halvah

Opening.

In Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda shuk (outdoor market), you can finds stands full of halvah

Halvah is really the epitome of Jewish cuisine. Since about two mellenia ago, the Jews have been in exile, moving from one place to another, finding a new home whenever they were kicked out. While all this was happening, they incorporated the local food from the region into their diets. So, for example, traditional Ashkenazi food is very similar to Polish, Germany, Hungary, etc food (eg, kosher dill pickles). Halvah is no exception – the Jews borrowed it from their neighbors and changed it a bit.

Halvah probably originated in India. Traders from there brought this treat over the the middle east, and hence the name Havlah is derived from the Arabic word meaning sweet. In each country, this sweet dessert has a different base: semolina, beans, and pumpkin, for example. Though I am not sure, I would imagine that Jews in middle eastern countries (Mizrachim) have been munching on this sweet for centuries. But since the early 1900s, it has been a mainstream all-around Jewish treat. As a matter of fact, the first US halvah factory was established in… you guessed it… Brooklyn in 1907. Today, Jewish halvah, as opposed to others, is made from sugar/honey and tahini (sesame paste). Jewish/Israeli Halvah is fairly distinct in that it is dairy-free (pareve), as the Jews took a great treat and adapted it to fit their dietary needs.

When it comes to desserts, I am a schlemiel – I always seem to screw it up. I figured that this though, couldn’t be too hard. But…. well… Anyway, be sure to heat the sugar syrup to the corect temperature (click on the link to read more), and be sure to have ample time to allow for refrigeration.

Recipe after break…

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Filed under Dessert, Israeli, Jewish, Parve, Sephardic