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Archive for June, 2010

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


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

Putting them all together

  1. Mix tahini and grape molasses together in a bowl.
  2. Serve 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. If you find it too sweet add more tahini.


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