Best Tahini Tomato Sandwich

Here's one of my favorite uses of my Tahini Uber Spread

They're something luscious about the combination of even just tomato, tahini and a little salt. the salt contrast with the sweet flavor of summer tomatoes and also brings out the watery freshness in the tomato which in turn contrasts with the slightly sticky tahini mixture. The pistachios and scallions give a delectable crunch and the sprouts and cilantro just crank it all up a bit. This is a great summer sandwich for lunch or a light supper.

2tbsp Tahini Uber Spread with pistachios and scallions
1 large slice whole grain bread or one wrap/lahvash piece
1/2 large tomato sliced thickly
small handful of alfalfa or sunflower sprouts
Roughly chopped chopped cilantro
Pinch of salt
Black Pepper
Extra drizzle of fresh tahini

If you are using sliced bread you may want to toast it.
Spread the tahini spread onto the bread and sprinkle on your cilantro. then arrange your tomato slices on top, sprinkle with salt and pile high with sprouts. grind on some black pepper and drizzle the tahini over the whole. (It anchors the sprouts down :)

On toast or sliced bread it can be a little messy but it's worth it. In a wrap it shouldn't cause you any problems.

One additional variation on this sandwich is to make the sandwich, minus the sprouts and extra tahini, on crisp warm Roti. Roti, the thin daily use Indian bread is available in the fridge section of most Indian groceries, such as Shalimar in Central Sq. ALl you have to do to prepare it is rip off the section that you want (make the whole bread for you and a guest) and heat in a tablepoon of oil in a frying pan. it really only takes a couple of minutes.

A note on healthy eating:

As you may know, although I enjoy meat and fish, i try not to eat them to often as I have ethical feelings on that score. the protein in this sandwich and in any sandwich using the Tahini Uber Spread is an added benefit for vegetarians. Also I try to make all my recipes conducive to following the recommended serving of 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Sometimes you may even find all five in one meal. which means you can eat ice cream for supper. :)

Tahini Uber Spread

Tried and tested, changed and experimented with, my Tahini Uber Spread (I can't find the Umlaut! sorry). At last here is the secret (and satanically simple) recipe for my Tahini Uber Spread that will make you and any other eaters of your sandwiches weak in the knees and with a little extra water and salt added...will make you salad munchers ecstatic. In fact, put it anywhere and people will love you. promise.

4 tbsp Tahini
2 1/2 tbsp Black Vinegar (you can use Balsamic but I recommend Chinese black vinegar...especially Jin Jiang vinegar.)
At least 1 tbsp Chili sauce.
Generous drizzle of sesame oil.
Salt to taste.

One small bowl.

Mix all the ingredients together until you have a reddish brown paste...you may want to add a few drops of water if the mixture is too sticky.

Different vinegars have different strengths and the same goes for chili sauce so taste it...see if there is enough of everything for you. When the balance is right the sauce will absolutely sing in your mouth.

A note about chili sauces:

I have experimented with a variety of different chili sauces. I started with rich and medium hot chipotle sauce designed for barbecues which was very good but somewhat flat in flavor, believe it or not.

Next I tried a good, cheap bottle of mexican chili sauce (ingredients: arbol and habanero chilis, water, salt, vinegar. I love ingredients lists like that) which worked very well...just gave the kick and nothing else...this leads me to believe you could use tabasco if you like but i must say a mexican sauce tends to be a little bit thicker and that's a nice quality in the spread.

Last, but certainly not least I tried Harissa (A wonderful and HOT hot sauce that is paste like and often contains carrot a well. Harissa is originally Tunisian, by the way.). That is my favourite at the moment because i feel the kind of heat and hint of sweetness goes really well with the Tahini.

Other Variations:

One thing that's great to do with this sauce is to add pistachios or raisins or both, or even chopped scallions to it, then blending and spreading on your sandwich bread. it creates a variety in texture which means that the sauce flavor is emphasize and you don't end up with that sticky sensation.



It's hot. Terribly hot here in Watertown. So...I have been inspired to invent a pleasant and refreshing tonic to give some relief.

I was inspired by the fresh fragrance of limes and the flavor and simplicity of freshly made (on the premises!) Rose Syrup from Tabrizi Bakery, a marvellous miniature paradise for pastry lovers specializing in Iranian/Persian desserts and sundries. And local too!


1 tbsp Rose syrup (more if you have a sweet tooth)
2 tbsp lime juice
1 1/4 cups cold filtered water or sparkling water.
Sprig of mint.

Put the syrup and juice in the bottom of a tall glass, fill with water and stir. Add your mint sprig, and ice if you have it. You could even put rose petals in it if you were making a big jug for guests.

Couldn't be simpler...or more delicious.


Thinking about possible uses for this lovely, fragrant concoction I came up with the following...a kind of Middle Eastern spin on the classic crisp Mojito. Mojito part based on a great recipe from Epicurious for the classic cocktail which actually gives decent quantities of mint and batch recipes too. This recipe serves 6-8.

ROSE Mojito

3 cups (packed) fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup rose petals.
6 tablespoons organic sugar
1/4-1/2 cup Rose Syrup, depending on taste.
1/2 cup golden rum
1 cup Cachaca
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

6 cups club soda
6 cups crushed ice
6 lime wedges
Large pitcher

Put some of the mint and rose petals aside for garnish. Put the remaining mint and sugar in the bottom of your pitcher and crush. personally I use the end of a rolling pin since I don't have a "muddler" but if you do...by all means muddle away. Add Rose Syrup, Rum and Lime juice and dissolve the sugar in the mix. Blend well. Some people like to do the mixing in a separate bowl and then strain the mint and whatnot out in true bar fashion but personally i like the herbacious mint leaves...and besides my pitcher has a little strainer thing. Fill pitcher with the club soda and put the crushed ice in glasses for you and your guests, then pour the mojito mixture over the ice and add some mint leaves and rose petals.

enjoy very much but try not to get too drunk. ;)


That Lahvash in the Sky: a guide to Coolidge Sq. staple foods.

Belying the country's location in the Caucasus, at the crossroads between Turkish Russian and Iranian foods, stands the funky little slice of heaven, or rather Lahvash of heaven, that is Armenian food. Armenia is one of the sites put forward as having been the Garden of Eden, after all.

As an indicator of how wonderful, fresh and interesting as well as eclectic this stuff is: I am seriously considering a trip to try it in situ.

See the wonderful full discussion of Armenian food as served in Armenia
  • here
  • and tell me you don't feel your mouth watering and the financial burden of the trip to Europe suddenly starting to feel somewhat lighter.

    But for now...Let's start with the basics. What is the shape of the Armenian staple diet? What foodstuffs can no self respecting person of Armenian heritage do without? In other words...what are the ubiquitous ingredients in my local Watertown groceries?

    So...in just about alphabetical order I have compiled a list of the most COMMON specialist items available and who does which one best, in my H.O.


    For non-europeans, everyday sweet breakfasts come in the form of pastry (for adults) and cereals loaded with colors and sugar (for children, mostly). Yet when you tell most Americans that in many european countries, Armenia apparently among them, it is considered not just ok, but pretty damned healthy to give your child a piece of fresh toast covered in a generous layer of chocolate hazelneut spread FOR BREAKFAST...the shock can be palpable. The most widely available brand normally is Nutella but not in Little Armenia. There it's the Turkish version, CokoKrem (choKKoKRem) all the way. It comes in stripy white and milk chocolate varieties too.


    Oh Feta. Odysseus couldn't make a packed lunch without it, and funnily enough on that score the Bulgarian's call their version Sirene. At least three varieties are available in even the most modest grocery in Coolidge Sq., and usually there are enough kinds to satisfy any craving, from the inexpensive (and rather bland) domestic, to the creamy goat-y Bulgarian, on up. Sevan has the widest selection of fetas in the neighborhood sitting in their brine baths ready for fresh slicing.


    Another white cheese, this time spreadable. It seems that no Armenian grocer's fridge cabinet is complete without at least two brands of Labne. I spread it on thin village bread or Lahvash and crumble dried mint or Zatar on it before folding it over a sliced tomato. It's fresh, creamy and salty and an essential ingredient to good Satziki.


    Don't be fooled by cheap imitations! Accept only the authentic Lahvash: thin and baked in a clay oven!

    This staple is used and delighted in from it's birth as a soft thin bread flexible enough to accomodate all manner of fillings, to it's dry state as a yummy crisp cracker. There are in fact a whole host of different kinds of flat bread available in Coolidge corner's bakeries, each one with its own special qualities. If you want a really fresh Lahvash I recommend Sevan bakery, and for a wider selection of breads...try Massis. If you want to try making it all yourself, a dizzying array of grains and flours can be found in Arax.

    Nuts and dried fruit:

    It seems as if nuts, seeds and dried, roasted chickpeas and corn are essential eating around here. Dried apricots, dates, and figs of various qualities are offered for baking or enjoyment on their own, and the special flavors of dried mulberries (my friend Anna Sussman's favorite) and sugar coated roast chickpeas can be found at the superb fruit and nut bar at Sevan. For better value on large quantities of raisins and other daily use dried fruits try Massis.

    Next to Kay's on Mt. Auburn st. there is a rather large and swanky shop called Fastuchi (it advertizes itself as "an Opera of Nuts") specializing exclusively in nut mixes and fine chocolate. In fact considering how little is in there it is surprising how big the shop is. The spicy sweet mix is good...blending dried cranberries, wasabi peas and roasted corn with mixed salted nuts, but you get the feeling that you could have just picked up the ingredients at Sevan and mixed yourself up a large batch, several days munching, for about the same price as a half pound. Seems like more packaging than substance, if you ask me.


    Green, black, or the pinkish purple kalamata. I remember the almond stuffed cracked green almonds from London's Green Valley Middle Eastern supermarket with nostalgia, but all the basics can be gotten at any of the groceries at Coolidge Sq., even my beloved oil cured black Moroccans...the bitterest of the lot. I recommend Sevan and Massis, but if you want quantity on a simple kalamata or mix, I have to say that Haymarket's Halal stops are cheaper.


    Great walls and heaps of them. In every one of the markets here. Each of these little stores puts the spice racks of Haymarket, let alone any supermarket in the greater Boston area to SHAME for mediteranean and middle eastern spices.

    The only contenders to any of these shops for these kinds of spices are the spice shop nestled against Christina's Ice cream shop (marvellous, by the way) in Inman Sq., Cambridge (walking distance from Harvard and Central Sq. T on the Red Line, and full of good eateries as well being home of the former Zeitgeist gallery, now renamed "The Lily Pad"), and Zamouri Spices the virtual one stop shop for Morrocan, Turkish and Lebanese Spices, which are pretty much common to Armenian food as well.


    What is life without Tahini? Awfully flat if you ask me. A delicious ground sesame butter, available with or without salt, this has become a staple for me just as much as it evidently is for the Armenian community here. Huge jars of the stuff sporting a vast array of origins and labels line the shelves of most every shop around here.

    Of course Tahini is an essential ingredient for any hummus worth its salt, but just try it spread on some whole grain bread toast with a bit of honey drizzled over it: it contends with the brioche and my new favorite, Bulgar cereal for the top breakfast prize.

    Tahini is a great substitute for peanut butter, and as such I often swap it in for the tablespoon of peanut butter I use in my macaroni and cheese sauce; of course it is also the prime focus of my Tahini Uber Spread and Best Tahini Tomato Sandwich.


    The Wheat that Puts You in the Driver's Seat (at breakfast time at least.)

    Now that I am in Watertown's Little Armenia I am rediscovering a host of foodstuffs that I haven't seen (or used) since I lived in London and was a frequenter of the Middle Eastern groceries of Edgware Rd. In addition, the fact that I am job seeking means that I am inclined to be both creative and frugal...which is why I am currently having a torrid affair with Bulgar Wheat.

    what is Bulgar Wheat? According to the people at Purcell Mountain farms (http://www.purcellmountainfarms.com/)

    "Bulgar is man's oldest recorded use of wheat. Bulgur is made by soaking and cooking the whole wheat kernel, drying it and then removing part of the bran and cracking the remaining kernel into small pieces."

    That's right. You can soak it for about 45 minutes in some warmish water and you are good to go. But once it's soaked...what do you do with these little tan and white butterflies of grain?

    One ingredient, a thousand uses. With a light malty flavour, Bulgar added to tomato salad with some harissa (a bright red chilli and carrot paste that packs a whallop) and oil makes a great punctuation in texture, but my latest discovery in using this delightfully versatile stuff is it's use as a breakfast cereal...a great alternative to oatmeal AND packaged cereal that contains all of the whole grain stuff, can be eaten hot or cold and is extremely low in cost. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, it's yummy as hell.

    So far I have been hooked on two ways of eating this high powered little grain in the morning: The first involves taking the presoaked bulgar mixing in a handful of golden or green raisins (the latter being available at most middle eastern groceries)and covering everything with cold milk or soymilk until only the little heads of the sweet golden raisins can be seen.

    The other option that I have come upon is to add a teaspoon of sinfully dark molasses to the wheat and then repeat the operation as regards milk until you end up with a coffee coloured and bitterweet liquid for the bulgar to swim about in.

    This whole bulgar idea is perfect for people who love oatmeal but don't want a hot breakfast in the summer months. It's pretty filling stuff too, although not heavy, so a little bowl will do 'ya, in most cases.

    No added salt, sugar or preservatives. You know exactly what's going in there...to quote a vehicular marketing ploy...it "puts you in the driver's seat".

    And with fewer emissions too.


    recipes and such.

    I just moved to "Little Armenia". This calls for a full review of what the area, located in Watertown's Coolidge Sq./Corner has to offer.

    How to get there: Take the Route 71 bus up from Harvard T towards Watertown Sq. (boarding on the lower level every day except Sunday) which will take you right up Mt. Auburn St. past the lovely Mt. Auburn Cemetary. Get off after the Star Market (ignore it completely if you can.) at Bigelow Ave. Walk in the direction of the Bus and you will come upon a fleet of little grocers that will knock your socks off. Closer in to Watertown Sq. are a host of additional delights, with more to be discovered, I think. So stay tuned, I am giving you the low down on the area, spiced with my own recipes (all recipes in this blog are mine unless otherwise stated) inspired by the ingredients and the summer heat.