Silky smooth and packed with flavor, Tahini Sauce with Lemon and Garlic is absolutely essential on falafel but delicious on so much else. It’s bright and tangy and as creamy as sauce with no cream (or any dairy) can be.
Pretty much now considered an essential recipe, our Tahini Sauce is based on the version in Michael Solomonov’s wonderful cookbook, Zahav. Don’t be alarmed by the whole head of garlic used in the sauce; like some kind of magic trick, blending the whole, unpeeled cloves with lemon juice neutralizes the formation of allicin, which is the chemical responsible for garlic’s harsher flavors. The resulting sauce is delicately garlicky, with almost no pungency.
The process is very simple. Add the lemon juice and unpeeled garlic to a blender and pulse until it forms a coarse purée. You don’t want to see any chunks of garlic, but don’t make it completely smooth. For us it was about 20 or so pulses, but our blender is old and crappy so it may be less for you. Once the purée is finished, pour it into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer and press on the garlic with a spoon so all the liquid is extracted.
To the liquid, stir in the cumin and cardamom, then add the tahini paste. The mixture will seize up and turn quite thick and pasty. Stir in cold water, a few tablespoons at a time, until it smooths out. You may need to work it a little but soon a thick but pourable sauce will form. Season it to taste with salt and pour it into your serving bowl. We like to garnish it with a good pinch of smoked paprika. The sauce will last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
It’s perfect with falafel, especially when served with warm, fresh homemade Pita Bread, but we used the leftovers on a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and radishes and it was ridiculously, lick-the-bowl tasty.
Tahini Sauce With Lemon and Garlic
- 1 head garlic cloves separated but unpeeled (about 15- 20 cloves)
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice from about 3 to 4 lemons (160ml)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin 4g
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 2g
- 1 cup tahini paste about 10oz, 300g
- Cold water
- Kosher salt to taste
- A pinch of smoked paprika for garnish (optional)
- Combine unpeeled garlic cloves and lemon juice in a blender. Pulse until a coarse puree is formed, about 10 to 15 short pulses. Pour mixture into a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Press out as much liquid as you can with the back of a spoon, then discard solids.
- Stir cumin, cardamom and tahini paste into the bowl with lemon-garlic juice. The mixture will seize and turn pasty. Add cold water, a few tablespoons at a time, stirring in between each addition, until a smooth, thick but pourable sauce forms. Season to taste with salt and garnish with a good pinch of smoked paprika, if desired. Sauce will last in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.