Middle Eastern Secrets

The phrase “Open Sesame” is in reference to the tendency of sesame seeds to pop open when ripe and it was used in the Arabian book “One Thousand and One Nights. Ali Baba, the main character in the book, used the phrase as a password that opened a secret entrance to the cave. Sesame was used in Assyria around 700 BC.

Sesame wine was said to be drunk by Assyrian gods before creating Earth. Sesame oil is cooked with red onions and eggs and is used as a traditional Arabic remedy for colds and cough. In Iran, sesame oil is taken orally for its laxative effects. In Jordan, sesame seed oil is taken orally for its galactagogue effects to simulate milk flow and for its antitussive effects to suppress cough.

“Tahini” is a middle eastern pantry essential. It is made using sesame seeds and sesame oil or olive oil.

Steps to Prepare Tahini: Ingredients: 5 cups of sesame seeds

1 1/2 cups of sesame oil or olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350

2. Toast sesame seeds for 5 - 10 mins tossing the seeds frequently with a spatula. Do not allow it to brown and then cool for 20 minutes

3. Pour sesame seeds into a food processor and add the sesame oil

4. Blend for 2 minutes and check for consistency. The goal is a thick, yet pourable texture

5. Add more sesame oil and blend until desired consistency

Tahini should be stored in a refrigerator in a tightly closed container

Tahini Halva Ingredients: 2 cups of honey

1 1/2 cups of tahini paste

1 1/2 cups of nuts (Almond goes well)

flavourings - Can use vanilla, coffee or chocolate

1. Heat the honey, stirring to prevent overheating until it reaches about 115 degrees celsius (or 240 degrees F)

3. Warm the Tahini to about 50 degrees C (120 degrees F)

4. Add the nuts into the honey syrup

5. Add the tahini

6. Put the warm mixture into an oiled cake tin or a plastic container

7. After it cools down, leave in the fridge for 36 hours and your tahini halva is ready

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