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The Arabic PB&J: Tahini and Grape Molasses

This is how quickly May flew by:

Boston Lights
boston lights

One of the exciting things I did last month was go hiking. It was my first time (ever), so my excitement was also met with equal part anxiety. My friend and I drove out to Shenandoah despite the scattered thunderstorm warnings and started hiking around 4pm. By sunset we were hours away from the trail head with nothing but our camera gear, granola, flashlights, a snake kit and a can of bear spray. By the time I realized how deep we were in the woods, I was pretty sure we were going to be eaten by a family of hungry bears. I should also state, for the record, that my friend wasn’t as worried. He’s an experienced hiker from Colorado who got a kick out of hearing me shriek every time I heard a branch fall in the distance or spotted deer eyes staring at us from deep inside the forest. It was creepy, but I had a great time — particularly since we didn’t die.

poor bunny probably thought I was going to eat it
shenandoah bunny

In the spirit of summer and quick snacks that don’t require turning on a hot oven, I decided to blog about the Middle Eastern version of the ubiquitous peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If you are a fan of the pb&j, you must try this version made with tahini (طحينة) and grape molasses (دبس عنب). It’s fantastic. Same concept, sweet and savory, but the flavors are more intense and delicious!

mise en place
mise en place
grape molasses
grape molasses

Regular molasses is a sweet syrup that’s a byproduct from processing sugar cane into sugar. That’s not the molasses you want to use for this dish. In the Middle East they make different flavored molasses made from carob (خرنوب), grapes (عنب), pomegranates (رمان) and dates (تمر). Some people use carob molasses for this dish, but I find that it has a bit of a bitter taste to it. In Iraq they make this dish with date molasses. My preference is grape molasses, which is sweet and has just the right amount of tartness without being too sour.

Food Art: Tahini and Molasses (دبس و طحينة)
Tahini and Molasses

If you want to be fancy, you can drizzle a nice pattern over the tahini with the grape molasses. Guests can then use their a piece of pita bread to mix the tahini and molasses together before eating.

swish, swoosh, eat!
dunk bread

Tahini and Molasses

yields 1 serving

Components

  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp grape molasses*
  • warm pita bread

Putting them all together

  1. Mix tahini and grape molasses together and server with warm pita bread.

Notes:Do not use regular molasses because it is too bitter. The ratio of tahini to molasses is usually 1 to 1, but if you want a sweeter mix add more molasses and if you find it too sweet add more tahini.

Print

Saha w Hana (صحة و هنا) — bon appetit!
the last bit

Posted in desserts, Middle Eastern, recipe by Antonio Tahhan on June 4th, 2010. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


24 Responses to “The Arabic PB&J: Tahini and Grape Molasses”

Tyrell Says:

Love your site. Your recipes and photos are always amazing.

Livia Says:

Quick question about tahini (because I must admit that it’s an ingredient I tend to avoid or minimize in recipes to suit my taste) – my last jar (just happens to have been that same brand) tasted bitter to me a month after opening, while it wasn’t rancid or moldy. If kept in the refrigerator, what are the signs that tahini is past its prime? Or is it supposed to be bitter and I should just add more salt?

Food Jihadist Says:

I love this, eat it all the time in Egypt. The combination of the sweet molasses and the creaminess of the tahini is perfect. Seems simple but is really delicious. Great post!

Antonio Tahhan Says:

Thanks, Tyrell!

Hi Livia! Tahini does have a stronger flavor than say almond or peanut butter. It is naturally slightly bitter by comparison, which is why I usually incorporate it as an ingredient rather than eat it by itself. As for storage, I usually do keep my tahini in the refrigerator because I don’t go through it as quickly. My mom and grandmother use it all the time and keep their tahini in the pantry and that seems to be fine. Just be sure to stir really well before using since oil separation is natural. One thing I didn’t comment on in my post is brands. One of my favorite brands, although it’s hard to find where I live, is Al Kanater (the brand with the arcs as logo) http://bit.ly/bEjXAV
As for spoilage, your best bet is to go with the expiration date since it varies by when the sesame seeds were ground. If the tahini has gone bad the flavor will be musty and a lot more bitter than normal — no amount of salt will be able to reverse this. You also don’t want to add salt as a preservative either, because that will change the flavor of the tahini itself. If you’re not planning to use it quickly enough, I think refrigerating it would be your best bet. Sorry for the long-winded answer. I hope this helps 😀

@Food Jihadist Thanks for the comment! I almost forgot how delicious this was until I blogged about it — it brought me back to my childhood. Do you also use grape molasses in Egypt? I know Iraqis tend to use date molasses and I’ve heard of some people using carob molasses. I’ll have to call my Egyptian friend to see what she uses 🙂

Dana Says:

Grape molasses? That sounds so good. We’ve got a bottle of pomegranate molasses at our house right now that is slowly being drizzled into and onto everything. I’m sure grape would be really good too!

Kirstin Says:

This looks awesome! It’s been way too long since I’ve eaten any tahini, where do you buy it? (same with the grape molasses)

Mia Says:

Absolutely the heathiest desert on earth!When I lived in Turkey I was taught to eat this as a strengthener when weak as it has tons of iron!I love it..but then Im a tahin addict.. :)Mia

Maria Says:

I love that! Tahini I’ve had many a time (in fact I have a recipe using tahini up on my site now), but grape molasses I have never tried. A great snack.

Meredith Says:

I love this idea! I fell in love with tahini after making homemade hummus and have been looking for more ways to use this. Thanks for sharing (and thanks for your amazing pictures) =)

Karen Says:

Tony, I think I might be able to cook this!

pinar Says:

I’ve just discovered your site and i love tahini (tahin Turkish) and molasses (pekmez in Turkish). This is a common Turkish breakfast and ramadan flavor. The problem is once I start eating it I can’t stop myself.
cheers

Shaheen Says:

This looks interesting . I’m going to be on the lookout for some grape molasses.

HoneyB Says:

This is really interesting! I am going to have to give this a try!

red dragon Says:

As pinar said, tahin-pekmez is super popular in Turkey too and I grew up on it. But the brand of tahini is important – there’s some really bad stuff out there. I’d stick to Arabic or Turkish sources. I have a favourite online supplier in Chicago, and you can choose from a number of brands there.

Kajal - Aapplemint Says:

Right now I know what to do with grape molasses ! Always saw it in the supermarket shelf, never knew what to do with it … can always count on you to enlighten me 🙂

zuhaal MI Says:

The brings back memories of my grandmother 40 years ago in her south Lebanon village. As kids staying with her she feed us this (طحينة with خروب‎ دبس kharrūb; ) once in a while when she made a fresh batch of ba3’aat (a round pillowy flat bread). This is good stuff.

Karen Says:

Tony, this is my new obsession! I eat it almost every day. I couldn’t find grape molasses, so I’ve been using date syrup instead. When autumn comes, I’ll try making my own molasses. Delicious–thank you!

Julianne Says:

Hi Tony! I hope your trip is going well. I remember how delicious this was in class. Where can I find that type of grape molasses around DC or Annapolis? BTW I have made the fateh about 10 times now. It is sooo delicious one of my favorite meals! And I never get store bought pita chips anymore I always make my own!

Antonio Tahhan Says:

Hi Julianne! Glad to hear you’re enjoying the fateh 🙂 If you can make a trip to Northern Virginia, that would be your best bet. There are plenty of Middle East/Mediterranean markets there. Otherwise, there’s Asadur’s in Rockville, which I’ve been to. There’s also Yas Bakery in Vienna, VA (that’s actually where I bought the bottle of grape molasses I used in this post). Wherever you go, make sure to read the ingredients to make sure there isn’t any added sugar or anything funky… the main (and preferably only) ingredient should be grape must — grape juice before or during fermentation. I hope this helps 🙂 Good luck!

Ruby Says:

This is what my (Syrian) husband has been telling me about! I’m just having trouble finding the molasses for him here in the UK. Love your blog and am especially keen to read about your adventures in Aleppo since that’s where my hubby is from!

Silvia Says:

Mexican girl here in love with tahini and grape molassesfor breakfast. I am also a huge fan of carob and date molasses. I agree with Tahhan on Al Kanater Tahini being best.

I am lucky to live in a big city with a large Arabic community which means Arabic grocery stores to buy products easily. I love going in and feeling like a kid in a candy store seeing the various products from Arabia.

Jacqui Says:

Is this dish ever served with a gritty almond paste? I was in Turkey last year and my host mom would service Tahini, Grape molasses and some sort of very thick nut butter paste .Does anyone know what I am talking about? I can’t seem to find any info on it.

Sunaina Says:

What’s your take on home made tahini please? If yes, which oil would you recommend?

Antonio Tahhan Says:

@Sunaina: I’ve never made tahini from scratch. The sesame seed though should contain enough fat to not require any additional oil.


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