Cookbook Profile

Ground Sesame Seed Dip

Makes about 1/2 cup


Sesame seeds were an important crop for the peoples of the ancient Near East because of the high quality of the oil and meal they provided. Archaeologists have found evidence of sesame cultivation in Egypt, Palestine, Babylonia, and Assyria. North of the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, they discovered crushed seeds in their excavations of the kingdom of Ararat (Jeremiah 51:27). In ancient times, sesame oil was primarily employed as a fuel for lamps. However, it had culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic applications as well.

Although sesame seeds are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, the ancient Hebrews certainly must have used them in their cooking. To this day, they are a ubiquitous ingredient in the cuisines of the eastern Mediterranean. When lightly toasted and ground into a paste, sesame seeds add a nutty flavor to a wide variety of sauces, dips, and dressings (see Note).


1/2 cup hulled sesame seeds
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small clove garlic, minced
Olive oil
Bitter herbs (such as arugula, chicory, dandelion,
   endive, sorrel, or watercress), washed and dried,
   or Unleavened Griddle Bread


Toast the sesame seeds 1/4 cup at a time. Immediately after the seeds are toasted, grind them into a paste using a mortar and pestle, electric spice grinder, or grain mill. Transfer the paste to a small serving bowl, and mix with the water. Stir in the vinegar, salt, and garlic, and mix well. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve at room temperature with the bitter herbs or bread for dipping.

Commercially prepared sesame butter, marketed as tahini, is available in health food stores, and gourmet and Middle Eastern markets.


A Biblical Feast
Foods from the Holy Land

By Kitty Morse
Ten Speed Press
Paperback, $14.95
Hand-tinted polaroid transfer photos
Includes bibliography and index
ISBN: 0-89815-965-2
Recipe Reprinted by permission.


A Biblical Feast
Foods from the Holy Land



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This page created December 1998