This is the best version of an Ottolenghi favourite ingredient

Shelf Help: Quality tahini is made with 100 per cent sesame seeds

What is it? Al Nakhil Tahini (€5.50, 454g/€9.50, 907g).

What’s good about it? Tahini is a sesame seed paste that is widely used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African dishes. Quality varies widely, and if you’re a Yotam Ottolenghi fan, you’ll know he uses it a lot and is particular about it: “I find Israeli, Lebanese and Palestinian brands superior to Greek and Cypriot ones; they seem more flavoursome, lighter and less claggy.”

The Al Nakil brand is manufactured in Lebanon and is a good, reliable tahini, made with 100 per cent sesame seeds. It is the preferred choice of Nicola Crowley, who runs Mezze, a Middle Eastern food store, cafe and deli in Tramore, Co Waterford with her Israeli husband Dvir Nusery. “We find the consistency and flavour is much better. It’s smooth and easy to work with,” she says.

How do I use it? An essential ingredient in hummus and baba ganoush, tahini is also the main ingredient in a simple, versatile sauce that can be drizzled over falafel, roasted vegetables, or grilled fish. It can also be used as a salad dressing. To make it, thin the paste with water and lemon juice and add crushed garlic and salt. “We always have a jar of this in the fridge,” says Crowley, who advises using equal quantities of tahini and water.


Where can I buy it? The Al Nakhil brand is widely available in Asian food stores, and online from

Anything else? Tahini can be used in sweet as well as savoury dishes. Try stirring some through a brownie mixture before baking. “At home, I have it on toast and put date syrup or honey on top to sweeten it. In the deli, we make cookies and halva with it,” Crowley says.

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