December 6, 2019

Canadian Grocer's May 2024 Issue - Things to Know about Tahini

Flavour enhancer

On its own, tahini — a paste made of ground sesame seeds that is traditionally used in Middle Eastern cuisine — “has a bitter flavour. It isn’t a pleasant taste experience for most people,” says Anne Lawrence, director of sales–industrial for Nuts to You Nut Butter, a Brantford, Ont.-based manufacturer of nut and seed butters including almond, peanut, pumpkin, sunflower and tahini.

As a taste enhancer, however, it’s a winner. For example, chickpeas are the base ingredient in hummus, but tahini gives the dip its distinctive creamy texture and slight nutty flavour. It’s also being swirled into salad dressings for added tang, incorporated into baked goods such as brownies and banana bread to create a sweet and savoury combination, added to soups to smooth out cream-free recipes and used as a drizzle over veggies. Some even spread it on toast with honey.

Anna Jane Daklala owns Secret Foods, which manufactures clean-label, tahinibased salad dressings in three flavours: lemon herb, smoked paprika and yuzu tamari ginger. “I’m Lebanese Canadian, so I grew up eating lots of tahini and noticed there wasn’t any tahini sauce on shelves,” says Daklala of launching the brand in March 2021 in 22 Calgary retailers.

Secret Foods is now sold in 500 grocery stores across Canada, including Whole Foods Market and Choices Markets locations in British Columbia; Safeway and Sobeys in Alberta; Metro in Quebec; and Fortinos and Healthy Planet stores in Ontario. “We’re usually listed in the natural aisle, as our customers want premium, natural alternatives to conventional grocery products,” she says.

written by Chris Daniels