Tahini is one ingredient in my cupboard that deserves a shout out.

I think of it as something that gets used regularly but not necessarily everyday – although given its suitability for most things, it possibly should be. Thrown into smoothies, the classic tahini yoghurt sauce, into dressings or even sweets, it’s infinitely adaptable.

It is essentially sesame seeds – either hulled or unhulled, roasted or raw – that are ground to a paste. Unhulled tahini tends to be darker in colour and slightly bitter. Black tahini is made from unhulled black sesame seeds; it’s richer, darker, slightly bitter and rather addictive (let’s face it, a hummus ranging in colour from gunmetal to black is always going to be a quirky winner, especially around Halloween).

You can use tahini as a substitute for Chinese sesame paste – although the Chinese version is unhulled, roasted and stronger in flavour – but you might want to pump up the flavour with a little extra roasted sesame oil.

Hummus In an ideal world I would be soaking and cooking chickpeas to make hummus. But there are always tins of chickpeas in the pantry to make a quick batch if necessary. I blitz 1-2 cloves garlic with the juice of a lemon. Then add 400g of tinned chickpeas (drained and rinsed) with ½ cup tahini, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, a pinch chilli flakes, 1 teaspoon sea salt, ¼ cup water and ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. Blitz until smooth and adjust seasonings and liquids to taste.

Asian-style tahini dressing for use in slaws, adding to cold or hot noodles, as a dipping sauce or as sauce for steamed or stir-fried vegetables. Combine 3 tablespoons tahini, 2 teaspoons each rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame seeds, roasted sesame oil, maple syrup or honey and soy sauce. Add the zest and juice 1 lime and stir to combine.

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