Tahina (Tahini) is extracted from the seeds of the sesame plant. It is an annual, herbaceous plant, grown in warm climates. Sesame plants reach 3 feet high with lance-shaped leaves, drooping purple to white flowers that are followed by long capsules containing numerous flat, white or yellowish seeds.
Tahina is a pure product–no other ingredients added. It is nutty in flavour and is a staple of Middle Eastern, Indian and Oriental cooking. Its uses in the Middle Eastern kitchen vary from the salty to the sweet. It is utilized in sauces for meat, fish or vegetarian casseroles and at times poured over sandwiches such as Falafel and Shawarma. It is the base of a number of confectionery one of which being Halawy (Halva), which is sliced and eaten as candy or made into a sandwich. Mix Tahina with an equal amount of molasses and there you have it, an exquisitely delicious spread!
Because Tahina separates when sitting on a shelf for a considerable period of time, forming a layer of oil on top, it is important to stir the contents of the jar before measuring.
Tahina of a much lower quality is made from peanuts.