In Cairo, small bowls of tahini are served at nearly every meal alongside warm baladi, a tender pita-pocket like bread intended for scooping up the rich sesame seed dip. Egyptians often flavor the tahini, stirring in lemon juice or roasted eggplant and garlic.
Our favorite was served at Zööba, a café where chef Moustafa El Refaey blends tahini with pureed beets and hibiscus tea. The unusual combination creates a bright purple dip with a wonderful sweet-savory-salty flavor.
To make a similar version, in a food processor combine an 8.8-ounce package cooked beets, 1 cup tahini, ¼ cup water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Process until smooth, adding more water 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
Eat it with pita, flatbread or raw vegetables. When you’ve made our Greek Yogurt-Harissa Dip or Whipped Feta Dip a few too many times, this one will bring a pop of color to any crudité plate. Or, check out some of our favorite ways to eat tahini for more ideas. A dollop would make a colorful addition to a grain bowl or platter of roasted vegetables.
To read more, journey with Milk Street Editorial Director J.M. Hirsch to learn about how spices do more than simply season in Cairo. That, plus get a recipe for Spicy Egyptian Eggplant with Fresh Herbs, and discover the art of pigeon calling (really: see it in action).