Product Type: Sunita Spread
Newest Review: ... dark chocolate! Compared to the other tahini brands on the market, I prefer the Sunita brand (e.g. compared to Suma) because it is smooth... more
Sunita Whole Tahini- Time to get greedy and seedy!
Sunita Whole Organic Dark Tahini
Member Name: theabster
Sunita Whole Organic Dark Tahini
Advantages: Really interesting flavour, rich in calcium, great in middle eastern dishes
Disadvantages: A bit pricey and sometimes hard to find. The dark version is quite bitter by itself.
Tahini is not just an ominous looking jar on a quacky health store shelf. It has a rich heritage: intertwined with some of the greatest cuisines from all over the world. Tahini was first mentioned as an ingredient of Hummus Kasa, a recipe transcribed in an anonymous 13th century Arabic cookbook and originates in ancient Persia (Iran). It is today also used in Szechuan cooking and across South East Asia. I love it on toast with jam. You might best know it as a major component of hummus- if you make it home-made without, it never tastes as the same. Tahini is sesame seed paste and is rich, strong tasting and quite bitter.
This particular tahini is made by a company called George Skoulikas Ltd, which is a business that started in 1977 importing olive oil and olives from Greece. It has since expanded its range to incorporate a large range of health food products under the brand names of Sunita and Hellenic Sun, such as pates, creamed basil paste, pesto, polenta, capers, and of course tahini. Tahini is a delicious spreadable paste made from sesame seeds and this particular one is roasted dry without the addition of extra oils.
It has a really delightful creamy taste and texture, quite cloying like peanut butter, but completely smooth and more runny. It has a tendency to separate in the jar creating a thin layer of sesame oil over the creamed sesame seeds. This actually is quite good because it acts as a protective layer to prevent spoiling. The jar itself is quite old fashioned looking, with a very dated, brown-yellow simple design that is kind of 60s meets Greek temple. You can buy the organic version of both the light and dark tahini, whereby dark tahini is the product of unhulled sesame seeds and light tahini is made from hulled sesame seeds. The result is a much more bitter taste to the darker variety but a greater calcium level, for which tahini is quite renowned for being a good source. I love the bitterness, like you would coffee or dark chocolate! Compared to the other tahini brands on the market, I prefer the Sunita brand (e.g. compared to Suma) because it is smoother and slightly cheaper. The lighter variety still has a good quantity and can be much more palatable to those wanting to try it for the first time, particularly if you are not going to just use it in hummus.
Nutrition (per 100g)
678kcal, 58.4g fat, 11.4g fibre, 26.7g protein, sodium trace, 302mg calcium
That's a calcium level of 151mg for a 50g serving, which is 19% of your rda. Not bad! Though it is quite a fat-dense product since it is produced from seeds which are accordingly quite fat-dense. Thus, you use it sparingly, like butter or cheese or something like that. A tablespoon or two will not make you obese and will give you a lot of fibre and a more well-rounded diet, nutritionally speaking.
How to use tahini
Tahini is great to use in dips (obviously hummus!), dressings, pates, sandwich fillings and in sweet dessert recipes like Halva. Sesame halva is popular in the Balkans, Middle East and other areas around the Med. It is really rich and when made commercially often has lots of potentially unnecessary ingredients like egg white, glucose syrup and artificial additives. In its more natural form, halva consists of sesame paste mixed with hot sugar syrup and possibly with the addition of flavourings like pistachios, cocoa powder, vanilla and chocolate. The basic tahini and sugar base is super rich and it is great because you only need a little bit to satisfy a sugar craving! You could make it yourself in a blender with a sugar substitute like brown rice syrup, agave or maple syrup. I bet this would be delicious and a great alternative to ordinary mass-produced confectionaries. I love tahini as a dressing mixed with lots of lemon juice, black pepper, mustard, soy milk and olive oil and then drizzled over a big green salad.
My favourite recipe is one my boyfriend found from a book called 'Easy Vegan Cooking'. The first time he made it for me I couldn't believe it: the mix of tomato and tahini is just magical and creates something he describes as almost meaty and a bit like liver (but in a good way!). It is without a doubt my favourite meal in the world. I give you.....baked tahini....
Clove or two of garlic
1 tbsp oil
4 tbsp tahini paste (we use this dark brand)
4 tbsp tomato puree
½-¾ pint water
2oz breadcrumbs (or enough to cover a lasagne dish)
2 tsp yeast extract or concentrated vegetable stock ('vecon' brand is best)
Black pepper, dried herbs and sometimes Chinese five spice!
300g pasta (or enough to serve the number of people....)
Cook the pasta, set aside.
Fry the onion until softened. Add the garlic and fry for a further few minutes. Add the tomato paste, the tahini and stir until thickly mixed. Add gradually the water, cooking on a slow simmer and add in the yeast extract or stock. Season plentifully to taste.
Then get the pasta and put it in a casserole dish or lasagne dish. Cover with the tahini sauce and scatter with the breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes until crisp in places and bubbling. Serve immediately.
Price and where to buy
The pinch is that it is more expensive than other spreads like, for instance, peanut butter. It is about £1.94 for a 340g jar, whereas you can get some basics peanut butters for about 70p for 250g. Obviously the quality is much higher, but you are still looking at a good 50 or 60p dearer price than a spread like sun-pat quality. Higher quality or organic peanut butters retail at about the same cost, so this might give an interesting comparison. I find I don't go through a tahini jar quite as fast as a peanut butter jar, because it is not quite as moreish. It is just as delicious though and sometimes I even prefer it.
Alas, it is quite hard to find- though Holland and Barrett is probably the most readily available place to get it on the high street. Also try Julian Graves, as well, or more importantly, independent health food retailers, online and of course in many supermarkets in the international foods, or 'healthy' foods sections. Also middle-eastern retailers are an obviously great source and probably infinitely cheaper too. You can get some amazing falafel at the same time.....wow! Taste-bud overload!
Super thumbs up from me, and great to know that it is directly imported from Greece amidst its ancient roots by the Mediterranean!
Summary: Sunny wholesomeness to go in your hummus
More reviews in the field of Spread
- Something extra for your ice cream
- Hartleys won my heart.
- strawberrybonbon loves strawberry jam!
- Peanut pieces in a yummy butter!
- almost like home-made but without the hassle
- A cheap and not so awful marmalade (just not my idea of heaven lol)!
- Not bad - when you can get into it
- Nutty butter
- It's Missing That Peanut Butter Taste
- Wake up to St Dalfour goodness!