People love to debate as to whether it is tahina or tahini but they are actually the same condiment made predominantly from hulled sesame seeds that have been roasted and then ground with oil. Different families and companies have their own secrets as to how to make their tahina stand out from the crowd. Some add a dash of lemon juice, others a little garlic, whilst some prefer a secret concoction of herbs and spices. No matter what is added to the Tahina to give it a special something, it seems agreed that the last thing you want to do is overpower the nutty taste.

Tahina has always been one of the major condiments in the Middle East and is now starting to make major inroads into the international market. It is never eaten alone but is used to drizzle on salads, as a final touch on falafel or shawarma, an accompaniment to hummus and for those who like to spark debate, as a dip for french fries!

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Recent market statistics are pointing to a steady increase in the growth of tahina. Over the past year, tahina sales have soared by 10% and that is predicted to increase significantly in the coming years.

The increase is due to the growth in the international market both domestically, where people are becoming more adventurous in their cooking, and commercially as more Middle Eastern restaurants open up. The growth is even more pronounced, as people who enjoy the product would rather buy it completely ready-made or as a paste that they can work their own wonders on. Tahina is by and large not something that most people create from scratch.

Another surprising additional market that is opening up is amongst those who have a vegan or vegetarian diet. They are constantly looking for additional sources of protein, something that can be challenging for them to find. Tahina is an excellent source of protein with around 3g of protein per tablespoon, it is also pretty low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.

As the market grows, more and more companies are entering the international market. To compete they need to be able to provide a premium product with a good shelf life that looks appealing on the shelf. Prince Tahini, produced in Israel is a well established company that is trying to stand out in this market. Over 50% of their output is exported which testifies to the quality of their product.

The public’s palates have become more and more sophisticated. People have spread out from their country of origin but still want their traditional foods or at least a reminder of home. Tahina is therefore set to become a staple condiment around the world and although it may not rival tomato ketchup, it may stand proudly alongside it.