Tahini, also called tahina, is obtained by grinding sesame seeds into a paste. Raw tahini is also available; it is produced in the same way as other types of tahini but the roasting step is left out. Most tahini sold commercially is not raw.
From Wikipedia: “Tahini, also tahina and Ardeh (Persian), is a condiment made from toasted ground hulled sesame seeds. Tahini is served as a dip on its own or as a major component of hummus, baba ghanoush, and halva. Tahini is used in the cuisines of the eastern Mediterranean region, from the Balkans, Caucasus and Middle East to Northern Africa. It is also widely used in Chinese and South East Asian cuisine, notably Vietnamese cuisine.”
Preparation and storage:
“Tahini is made from sesame seeds that are soaked in water and then crushed to separate the bran from the kernels. The crushed seeds are soaked in salt water, causing the bran to sink. The floating kernels are skimmed off the surface, toasted, and ground to produce an oily paste.
Because of tahini's high oil content, many manufacturers recommend refrigeration to prevent spoilage. This is particularly true among makers of raw, organic tahini, who will often prepare their tahini at low temperatures and ship and store it in refrigerated cases to maximize quality and shelf life.”
“Tahini is an excellent source of calcium, manganese and the amino acid methionine. Tahini is a source of healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Tahini made from raw sesame seeds is lower in fat than tahini made from roasted seeds.
Tahini's relatively high levels of calcium and protein make it a useful addition to vegetarian and vegan diets, as well as to raw food diets when eaten in its unroasted form. Compared to peanut butter, tahini has higher levels of fiber and calcium and lower levels of sugar and saturated fats.”
“Tahini-based sauces are common in Middle Eastern restaurants as a side dish or as a garnish, usually including lemon juice, salt and garlic, and thinned with water, as Hummus made of cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Tahini sauce is also a popular topping for meat and vegetables in Middle Eastern cuisine. ...
In Greece, tahini (Greek: ταχίνι) is used as a spread on bread either alone or topped with honey or jam. Jars of tahini ready-mixed with honey or cocoa are available in the breakfast food aisles of Greek supermarkets.
In Israel, tahini (Hebrew: טחינה t'hina) is a staple foodstuff. It is served as a dip with flat bread or pita, a topping for many foods such as falafel, sabich, Jerusalem mixed grill and shwarma, and as an ingredient in various spreads. It is also used as a cooking sauce for meat and fish, and in sweet desserts like halva, halva parfait, halva ice cream and tahini cookies. It is also served baked in the oven with kufta made of lamb or beef with spices and herbs, or with a whole fish in the coastal areas and the Sea of Galilee.
In the Gaza Strip, a rust colored variety known as "red tahina" is served in addition to ordinary tahina. It is achieved by a different and lengthier process of roasting the sesame seeds, and has a more intense taste. Red tahina is used in sumagiyya (lamb with chard and sumac) and salads native to the falaheen from the surrounding villages, as well as southern Gaza.”
“The oldest mention of sesame is in a cuneiform document written 4,000 years ago that describes the custom of serving the gods sesame wine. The historian Herodotus writes about the cultivation of sesame 3,500 years ago in the region of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Ancient Iraq. It was mainly used as a source of oil.
Tahini is mentioned as an ingredient of hummus kasa, a recipe transcribed in an anonymous 13th-century Arabic cookbook, Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada. Sesame paste is an ingredient in some Chinese, Korean, and Japanese dishes; it is used in some versions of the Szechuan dish Dan dan noodles. Sesame paste is also used in Indian cuisine. In the United States, sesame tahini, along with other raw nut butters, was available by 1940 in health food stores.”