T’chi’na (NOT “Tahini”)


2020 Update: I revisited this recipe from 2009, and tweaked it for eleven years worth of refinement).

Americans like things simple. Cheese Whiz, American Cheese, Pop Tarts. Today I saw a sealable bag with marinade in it, sold as an “incredible way to marinate meat.” It’s easier I guess to pull something off a shelf than think long enough to add marinade, water and food and seal ’em together.

T’chi’na — a sauce or dip with sesame paste as a base — is a key component of several dishes, including  hummus and baba ghanoush from the Middle East and sesame noodles from Asia. It’s fattening, but it’s good fat. It makes a great protein base for a vegan meal and goes well with a lot of things. Like rice: it’s a great ‘fill me upper.’

Yes, it can be used as a drizzled dressing on salads or in a good felafel at a central bus station in Israel. But I like it sharp, with a Texas flair, and thick and creamy. Fills all the hungry spaces in your belly, as good as a burger, without (most of) the guilt.

I make it in large batches. The longer it sits in the fridge (2 weeks is fine) the stronger the flavors get.

While purists might whine, in this particular case powdered garlic is a better flavor dispersant than dicing, mincing, or crushing garlic. Roll with it. Trust me. I also haven’t found a taste difference between bottled lemon juice and fresh for the purposes of this recipe.


  • 1 lb. sesame paste (I prefer toasted, but raw is just fine)
  • 2/3C – 1C lemon juice
  • 1T sesame seeds (again, toasted or raw work equally well)
  • 1T garlic powder
  • 1T Tabasco sauce
  • optional: 2t chili flakes
  • 1.5t salt
  • Water


  1. Take all the ingredients & put them in a food processor with a blade attachment in place. By hand: bowl and whisk (that’s what I use)
  2. Spin it up/mix. Add water until it’s got a creamy consistency: at least a minute after you’ve got the color from murky brown to a light tan
  3. If the color’s too dark, at more lemon juice


Depends. It’s an ingredient for other dishes. It can be eaten as a dip with tortilla chips (hey, this is Texas!) or pita, fresh or baked. Otherwise, use in some of my recipes.


Prep time: 2 minutes. Elapsed time: 5 minutes.