Q&A Series: We (now) say tahini

By: The Soom Sisters  |  February 8, 2017

When we first started Soom Foods we called our product “tehina”, because this is an English transliteration of the way the word is pronounced in Hebrew.  But unfortunately, it was not received well by our customers.

If we weren’t asked “What is Tehina?” we were asked “What is the difference between Tehina and Tahini?”  Following hundreds of the same repeated question, we very quickly decided to change our product name to “tahini”.  Because still, at the beginning stages of Soom Foods, many people didn’t know (and still don’t know!) what tahini is! …

What is tahini?

Amy: Tahini is an ingredient made from 100% roasted and pressed sesame seeds. It is a versatile ingredient for savory and sweet dishes. An easy way to describe it is that it is thicker than olive oil but thinner than peanut butter and used for both and every fat in between.

What is tahini most commonly used for?

Shelby: The most common applications of tahini used in the U.S. is hummus. Tahini originates in the Middle East and the Mediterranean cultures. In those parts of the world they use tahini as a staple ingredient in a lot of their cooking. They mainly use it in hummus as well as sauces, marinades, dips, and salad dressings, but also use it for baked goods and as a topping for frozen yogurt!  

What is your favorite tahini recipe?

Shelby: Tahini is a great ingredient even if you’re not a recipe person and don’t like to follow instructions (like me).  I like to use tahini as a substitute.  Two great ways to substitute tahini is to replace mayonnaise as a spread and to replace nut butter in smoothies. Tahini also tastes great added to oatmeal and drizzled on yogurt.

Amy: Another great way to use tahini is to make a sauce for stir fry. When you buy pre-made sauces in stores, they can be very high in sodium and/or sugar, and have really strong flavors.  You can mix tahini with a stir fry sauce if you do not want to make an entire sauce yourself.   Specifically, I love tahini mixed into barbecue sauces!

What inspired the idea for chocolate tahini?

Jackie: Omri and I were traveling in Greece and I sent Shelby & Amy a picture of a chocolate tahini that I tried there.  I texted through WhatsApp – “this is really good, can we make something like this?”

Shelby:  So then we did some flavor testing and brought together a couple of focus groups. We tried a sweet & sour chili-tahini mix, a honey-tahini mix, date syrup mixed with tahini, and the chocolate tahini. The chocolate was the winner across the board so we invested in that one.

What do you typically use the chocolate tahini for?

Amy: The chocolate tahini is so great (delicious & nutritious!) we encourage people to eat it by the spoonful. It really stands on its own!  I use it as a dip for fruit, blended in smoothies, and it tastes great spread on toast topped with bananas. Another great way to snack on the chocolate tahini is by dipping honey wheat pretzels in it. The chocolate serves as a great boost of energy while nutritionally satisfying your candy bar cravings without the guilt. With the chocolate tahini, you are still getting the health benefits of tahini and the rich flavor of chocolate.