Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How to Make Tahini Sauce with Too Much Garlic

This was supposed to be a simple tahini sauce video for teasing our upcoming falafel episode, but it turned into a demonstration on how not to adjust a recipe. Usually this delicious Middle Eastern condiment has just a touch of garlic, if any, for whatever reason I was in a garlicky mood, and decided to put in some extra… all at once.

This is a classic rookie move, and usually a recipe for disaster, pun intended. If you’re going to significantly increase the amount of an ingredient, you can’t just dump it all in and cross your fingers. You have to add it little by little, tasting as you go, otherwise you’ll end up like me; the proud owner of a perfectly fine garlic sauce.

There’s nothing wrong with garlic sauce, unless you really wanted tahini sauce.  The good news is, my mistake shouldn’t affect you in the least. The technique is very simple, and every ingredient is “to taste.” So, please use the ingredient amounts below as a guide, and then add more of whatever until you have it exactly how you want it.

Once you get the formula down, you’ll be enjoying one of the world’s great cold sauces. Perfect with everything from steamed vegetables to grilled meats, and of course, homemade falafel. So, stay tuned for that, and in the meantime, I hope you get this delicious tahini sauce a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 1 cup of tahini sauce:
1/2 cup tahini (pure sesame seed paste)
1 clove finely crushed garlic (I used 4 cloves in the video,  but you probably shouldn’t)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil, optional (most classic recipes do not include)
enough warm water to achieve the desired consistency (this sauce is usually very thin)


Billie said...

My most recent culinary disaster was with tahini sauce as well. But in my case I put in too much lemon. I should have known better, it's wasn't the first time I made that either

Bahiga said...

No such thing as too much garlic. In Egypt we use lime instead of lemon we add white vinegar, Cumin and Paprika. As for the consistency it depends on what you are serving tahini with

Lupe said...

Adding garlic little by little, tasting as you go doesn't work, either. Been there, tried that. I stopped adding Garlic to the Cacık when I started tasting onion. That was weapons-grade Cacık!

The reason is that you taste garlic less and less, the more you try. And very fast, too.

Ryan said...

I'm hoping the falafel isn't too hard.... I want to make it but the good eats version is too complicated.

Ejal Nvt said...

I love your videos! But you have one dish that can use some nice cayenne on top.. and you don't add it? Wtf :) You put cayenne in everything even in your amazing chocolate.. but you don't put it on your Tahini? Lol

Jason Smith said...

CJ - Are you kidding....that was the perfect amount of garlic! I've been eating a lot of
fal-AWFUL lately. I can't wait to try yours.

Nate Thomas said...

Oh man! More middle eastern food! I have a request, show us a good chef-john-approved beef koobideh or kofta recipe!

Vincent said...

Would sugar free peanut butter work instead of tahini?

Toshiko Suisei said...

haha I got up to Ejal Nvt's comment and started laughing hard out - almost forgot the comment I had in mind. So right. hehe

Anywho... Chef John, I think you could have just passed your sauce through a fine sieve to remove nearly all of the garlic particles, then put just the right amount from that back in?

Tony Arra said...

Excited for the falafel! Tahini's a great ingredient: hummus, falafel, halva, etc.

Is there any chance of seeing a recipe for Easter Grain Pie? I've tried finding recipes online but they're few and far between.

Daniel Bottoms said...

That presentation at the end was so perfect! those colors! can't wait...

sehher said...

i never heard of warm water use..

often people prepare it with ice and cold water inside.....

Blue Arc said...

So...I never liked tahini. I took to leaving it out of the hummus altogether 'cause I don't like it. I made this sauce anyway. Something about all that lemon juice made this delicious. Added just a clove of garlic. It was perfect. Had it last night with the Chef's falafel. That was a good supper. Thanks Chef!

DevilsAdvocate said...


I would love to see a throw-back photo of CJ when he was listening to this!


smithhal1 said...

A couple of days ago, I bought a frozen seafood dinner at the market. It came in an aluminum foil pan and was heated by placing it directly on a BBQ grill!
It consisted of among other things, shrimp, crab, corn on the cob, clams, mussels, and a sausage something like andouille.
It made a pretty good dinner, but I'm sure you could come up with something better. It wasn't a soup like cioppino.
Thanks for all the great recipes and videos!

OMW2OWN said...

Hi CJ :)

My hubby and I have falafel, tahini, borekas and salad supper about every week and we love it with lots of garlic... enogh garlic to feel its burn :))
About the warm water... when ever you make thini (or thina as we call it )with warm or even room temp water and then place it in the fridge, the thina thickens and looses the consistancy you went for.
Using ice water makes sure the consistancy stays the same even after refregerating. PS. the warm water also dulls the garlic flavour.


joe gaines said...

Great recipe. I love the crispy outside and soft inside.

beemo said...

I just made this, very carefully, and it turned out well, thanks again.

The sad fact is that cooking makes me nervous and grumpy, for lack of experience, plus worry about the results; but after some months doing Chef John recipes (and my first Vahchef Indian recipe -- Paneer Tikka Masala -- for which I actually made my own paneer, ginger-garlic sauce, and tomato puree), I am beginning to get a bit more confidence. Thanks again Chef John for your entertaining, and REASSURING approach.

--Grouchy Amateur Cook