Marshall McLuhan was indeed a visionary man. I am not sure how much I agreed with him during my college days when everything textbook-ish seemed to be drab, but now it all makes sense to me. It is a global village we live in today, isn't it? Things are flying from east to west and from west to east, north south and everywhere else. Cuisines and culinary cultures of the remotest corners of the globe are today understood and appreciated millions of miles away, probably better than ever before. That was how I first came across Tahini - in a Lebanese-serving restaurant tucked away in the Indian capital. Honestly! What were the chances if it weren't a global village?
For the uninitiated tahini is, broadly speaking, a paste or a spread made from sesame seeds. Growing up in a Bengali household, sesame was commonplace, typically used in a number of sweet and savoury dishes. Of the all the preparations that used sesame, I recall vividly the 'til-er naru', which are basically sweet balls of roasted sesame and jaggery. It is customary as a religious offering and honestly not one that piqued my taste buds, then or now. And thus it was to be. I gave up on sesame for most of my teenage years, never knowing the secrets it held within, until that day ten years back when I first ordered a plate of something with hummus! Ah! It was like my gustatory cells came alive to that rich smooth nutty flavour of hummus. But those weren't the days of smartphones or free WiFi and I had to wait a couple of days before I could look up the recipe for hummus, and there I found tahini.
My love affair with Tahini begun then and has continued ever since. So, when I was mulling over the menu for my father's birthday lunch I thought of cooking one of our favourites - Tuna fish in tahini along with a chickpeas and sausage salad. Looking back at the afternoon, I can happily give myself a pat on the back. A three-hour long lunch under the winter sun with bottles of champagne, a perfect way to spend a Sunday indeed!
Tuna in Tahini
500 gm fresh Tuna, cut into slices
1 tsp Olive oil
3-4 tbsp Tahini paste
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lime juice
3-4 tbsp yogurt
4-5 cloves of garlic crushed
Salt, to taste
Chopped coriander, for garnishing
- Pat fish dry and sprinkle some salt on both sides of the fish slices. Keep aside for an hour or so.
- Preheat your over to 230 °C. While the oven heats up, prepare a paste with the tahini, yogurt, garlic, lime and lemon juice, and salt. Mix this well and keep aside.
- Now grill the fish pieces for 10 minutes. I used heating on both the upper and lower rods. The fish at this stage should be almost cooked through but still slightly soft and juicy. Over-cooking tuna hardens it. (I learnt this the hard way!)
- Once you have grilled the fish, transfer it on to an oven-proof dish and spoon the paste over it. Rub the paste gently on the fish slices and put it back in the oven for another 10-12 minutes. Leave both rods on for the first five minutes then turn off the lower rod. The sauce will brown slightly after 10 minutes or so. Turn off your oven, garnish with coriander, and your tuna is now ready to eat under a bed of fluffy lemony tahini sauce!
Broccoli and sausage salad
|Chickpea and sausage salad|
Here is what you need:
1 cup chickpeas (soaked in water overnight, and boiled with a little bit of salt)
1 broccoli, florets separated
4 sausages, i used pork, sliced
3/4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 large pinches of thyme, dried
Squeeze of lemon
- Boil your chickpeas with salt till just cooked.
- In an oven-proof dish, put in the broccoli florets and sliced sausages. Add a dash of pepper, and the rest of the seasoning. Mix well with the olive oil. Top with grated cheese. Bake for 15 minutes at 200 °C.
- Mix with the boiled chickpeas and serve.