You might occasionally hear tahini and tzatziki used in the same sentence when discussing foods from Greece, Turkey and the Middle East, but do they share any similar qualities or are they completely different?
Tahini and tzatziki are different in various ways. Tahini is made with sesame seeds, whereas tzatziki is made with cucumber and yoghurt. Tahini is thick and sticky, whereas tzatziki is creamy and soft.
What is Tahini?
Tahini is a paste made by toasting and then processing sesame seeds until they become a sticky, glossy paste that can be used in the base of sauces, dips and dressings.
Tahini is most commonly used in the base of hummus and baba ghanoush, but it is also used in salad dressings, sandwich and burger fillings and meat marinades.
Tahini is mainly used as a base ingredient for sauces or dips. It is more commonly in the base of hummus, alongside chickpeas, to give it a nutty flavour and smooth texture.
What is Tzatziki?
Tzatziki is a dip or sauce that’s popular in Greece. It is made by combining yoghurt with drained cucumbers, raw grated garlic, lemon juice and fresh herbs.
To avoid a watery dip, cucumber is usually salted a little and then left to drain which removes the excess water whilst also intensifying the flavour. This is then combined with thick yoghurt and garlic.
Tzatziki can be used how you use most dips or sauces. Raw vegetables or warmed pita breads can be dunked into it or served alongside souvlaki, gyros or kebabs.
Differences Between Tahini and Tzatziki
As you can imagine, the list of differences between tahini and tzatziki is extensive. Here are 7 ways these two items completely differ:
- Ingredients – Tahini is made from 1 ingredient, sesame seeds. They are then toasted and processed until they break down, release their oils and turn into a paste. On the other hand, tzatziki is made with yoghurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon juice and fresh herbs.
- Texture – Because tahini is just made with sesame seeds, it has a sticky, thick and gloopy texture. However, the main ingredient in tzatziki is yoghurt, which gives it a creamy, smooth texture.
- Appearance – It would be impossible to mistake one for the other. They share absolutely no visual characteristics. Tzatziki is white, with specks of green from cucumber and dill. Tahini is beige.
- Flavour – Tzatziki is rich with yoghurt, refreshing with cucumber and punchy with garlic. Tahini, however, is nutty with the flavour of sesame alone.
- Use – Tzatziki is a ready to go sauce that can be used a dip or filling. Tahini, on the other hand, is usually the base ingredient to dip and sauces. It’s vert rare that tahini would be eaten neat.
- Cuisine – Tzatziki is predominantly found in Greek cuisine (although Turkey has a similar dish called Cacik). Tahini is commonly found across the Middle East and Northern Africa.
- Production – Tzatziki is made by mixing yoghurt with raw, grated garlic, grated and drained cucumber and lemon juice. Tahini, is made by toasting and then processing sesame seeds until they form a paste.
Similarities Between Tahini and Tzatziki
The list of differences is so lengthy that you probably think there can’t be any similarities, right? Well… You’re not far wrong:
- They Start with a T – No, really… There are so few similarities between these two items that we’ve had to go for the obvious, and that’s the fact they both begin with the letter T.
The similarities really are lacking between tahini and tzatziki. The only exception is if the tahini has been turned into a sauce. It is often combined with yoghurt, garlic and lemon to produce a sauce. This sauce is a little more similar to tzatziki, sharing some of the same ingredients.
Tahini vs Tzatziki: Which Wins?
These two ingredients might be completely different, but do you have a favourite? Is there one you couldn’t live without?
Do You Prefer Tahini or Tzatziki?
Tahini and Tzatziki FAQs
Do you have additional questions about tahini and tzatziki? Then these FAQs might provide you with some answers:
Falafel is often served with a tahini-based sauce (usually made with yoghurt, tahini and garlic) but can also be served with tzatziki instead or as well as.
No, tahini is completely different to tzatziki and they cannot be used interchangeably. The only difference is if you turn tahini into a sauce using yoghurt, this is a little more similar to tzatziki.