Honey halva – and tons of tahini

April 17, 2014 7:23 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Who first thought of grinding sesame seeds? It must have seemed a thankless task! And yet it has a sublime result: ground sesame seeds make some of the best pastes (tahini), condiments, oils and desserts (halva) you can find. In the West, we still tend to keep our sesame seeds simply for topping ‘burger rolls’ – but we’re missing a trick.

Billions of tiny seeds, packed with nutrition.

As well as all the (literally) billions of sesame seeds that we sell at Naturally Good Food, in packs ranging from 250g to 25kg, and the many products that incorporate sesame seeds (click here to see them), and our great range of condiments and sesame oils (click here to see those), we’ve got two particular sesame products that we’d like to highlight this week.

They’re both based on sesame pastes: halva and tahini.

Halva

Halva is the name of a Middle Eastern sweet made from paste or flour and sweet ingredients. It’s found in numerous forms and recipes, with all sorts of added extras, throughout the Middle East: the name literally means ‘sweet’.

We stock one of the most common forms: sesame halva with honey. This has a dry, crumbly texture, and is made by grinding the sesame seeds to a paste, then mixing them with hot honey. It’s popular in the east Mediterranean and Balkan regions.

Our sesame halva comes from Sunita and consists of 52% ground sesame seeds and 48% honey. It’s got a delicate, delicious flavour. Like all halvas, it can be served with coffee after meals, mixed with yoghurt or fruit, eaten in a sandwich – or just nibbled at in chunks, or with a spoon.

Is it good for you? Well, sesame seeds, minute as they are, are a good source of manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fibre. They’re rich in omega 6 fatty acids and high in protein, with unique fibres that can help lower cholesterol and prevent high blood pressure. That’s an awful lot of goodness in a tiny seed. The best part is that the high protein level tends to satisfy your appetite in a way that a purely sugar-based snack cannot. You therefore eat more healthily, and eat less.

Tahini

If you’re feeling like something a little more savoury, but still with the nutritional benefits of sesame seeds, then why not try one of our tahinis? These too are made of ground sesame seeds, but are unsweetened. Tahini is a Middle Eastern storecupboard essential. It’s famously a vital ingredient in hummus, but is also used as a general dip or spread, as a dressing (including in a kind of coleslaw), or to add a new dimension to meat and fish dishes.

Click here to see our full range of tahini: we have raw light and dark tahinis from Carleys; bulk packs of brown and white tahinis from Sunita, designed for caterers; smaller jars of brown and white tahinis from Sunita; and dark and light tahinis, in both natural and organic forms, from Meridian.

Dark tahinis are ground with their husks intact, producing a coarser product with a higher nutritional content and more fibre. Light tahini is smoother and often preferred for cooking. It has a more delicate taste, with the darker tahinis tending to be ‘nuttier’.

As well as these classic tahinis, we have sesame seed butter from Carleys, and sesame seed spread with chocolate. Click here to see our full range of sesame products.

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This post was written by Yzanne

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