Tahini, or ‘tashi’ as it is known in Cyprus, is one of the island’s favourite dips for bread, meze (tapas style dishes), or a take-away souvlakia. This sesame paste is made from toasted and ground hulled sesame seeds mixed with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil; it has a slightly bitter taste.
Tahini is also a staple ingredient in one of Cyprus’ favourite desserts: tahinopites. Tahini is combined with carob syrup to make a doughy mixture, which is then cooked as a pie. With a little sugar sprinkled on top, Tahinopita is best enjoyed warm but it is also delicious eaten cool the next day.
Sesame was originally cultivated by the ancient Mesopotamian civilisation and used as an offering to the gods. It has been a staple product in the surrounding region for over 4,000 years. Tahini is one of the oldest uses of the sesame seed, as recorded in an anonymous thirteenth-century Arab cookbook.