Yoghurt-tahini sauce – enhances so many dishes

“Today, as a chef, tahini never leaves my side…..As a sauce it enhances any grilled protein and whenever I host a barbecue I make certain to place a pot of it at the dining table.”

Josh Katz, chef-patron of Berber & Q, in The Financial Times

Things to do with yoghurt-tahini sauce

This sauce is very quick to make, and enhances all kinds of dishes:

  • You can make fried halloumi chips and serve with the sauce to dip in.
  • Or layer the halloumi with the sauce, wrap in filo pastry and bake.
  • Serve it with Lamb Hiding in Mozzarella – or, indeed, with any kind of meatballs
  • Over a plain, grilled fish especially a chunky white fish such as halibut; or with salmon or sea trout
  • It goes extremely well with Vaguely Turkish Kebabs
  • Or with lemony chicken kebabs
  • It forms part of an Israeli dish of chickpeas, cauliflower and boiled egg
  • Serve over grilled or roasted vegetables, especially green beans and asparagus
  • Use it as a salad dressing; or in a salad dressing made with honey, soy sauce, and an old sherry vinegar
  • Or serve it as a dipping sauce for crudités and flatbreads with a dusting of smoked paprika
  • One of chef Josh Katz favourite ways to eat it is folded through puréed pumpkin, or adding rose harissa to it, thus….

“….turning tahina sauce a beautiful rich red and giving it a fiery kick which works with just about everything.”

Unexpected fact about tahini

Did you know that tahini on its own (not as this sauce) raises a cherry tart to another level? It’s also an essential ingredient of halva, a sort of middle-eastern sweetmeat.

Variations on the method below

Some people make their tahini sauce by simply whisking together tahini (120 ml/½ cup) with a couple of cloves of garlic crushed with half a teaspoon of salt, lemon or lime juice (120 ml/½ cup) and iced water (60 ml/¼ cup). I prefer the method below which includes cumin and yoghurt.

Others don’t use salt, or use less salt and substitute fish sauce, or a mashed anchovy, or a small amount of Gentlemans Relish.

You can also add in generous handfuls of freshly chopped green herbs.

Recipe for a yoghurt-based tahini sauce

Serves 2


  • 120ml/½ cup Greek yoghurt – or more if you like it loose rather than stiff
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed with half a teaspoon of smoked salt
  • 1½ tbsp tahini
  • juice and zest of half a small unwaxed lemon
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • some freshly ground black pepper…or even better some Urfa pepper flakes
  • some good, peppery olive oil for finishing


  1. Dry fry the cumin seeds, and crush in a mortar and pestle.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the yoghurt, most of the cumin seeds, and the garlic-salt mix.
  3. Grate in the zest, but don’t clean the zester (save the zest on it for garnish).
  4. Squeeze in the lemon juice.
  5. Stir all together.
  6. Drizzle over a little finishing oil, and garnish with the remaining lemon zest, the remaining cumin seeds, and the pepper.
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