July 23, 2009

Sukkar Bin Tahin (Beirut Tahini Swirls)

This is what Natashya, who is hosting the Bread Baking Babes challenge this month, picked to bake. When I saw the picture of these flatbreads, I was reminded of parathas (an Indian flatbread, usually with filling in it). On reading through the recipe and her post, I knew I just had to make this.

According to Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, whose Home Baking, The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World this recipe is taken from ~

"Beirut has a lot of good food at every level, from fancy restaurants to local eateries, from home cooking to quality market shopping. And for a curbside snacker like me, it's paradise. There are sesame-covered flatbreads, grilled meats, and sweet and not so sweet cookies; there's always something nearby to eat.

These tahini swirls, called sukkar bi tahin in Arabic, are flattened flaky rounds flavored with tahini and sugar, not too sweet, not too strong tasting. Serve them warm or at room temperature-they’re just right either way."

Tahini isn't something that's readily available here except in a couple of stores where it's very expensive. I use a lot of sesame seeds in my cooking and sesame seed oil is something that you'll always find in Palakkad Iyer homes, so I made my own tahini. I would like to think my home-made tahini was better as it was fresh and had lots less oil.

I made just half the recipe so I used about 1/2 cup of white sesame seeds and 1 tbsp sesame seed oil. The amounts aren't very exact, so please use your intuition while making the tahini paste.
Roast the sesame seeds, over low heat, until they start turning golden and pop. Take the pan off the heat, cool and powder in the mixer/ grinder. Add the sesame seed oil and a little salt. Process till it becomes a thick paste.
For a detailed explanation, with pictures, to make these flatbreads please see Natashya's post.



1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

1 cup lukewarm water

About 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp olive oil


3/4 cup tahini

3/4 cup sugar


In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Stir in one cup of the flour, then add the sugar and oil and stir in. Incorporate a second cup of flour, then turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 to 3 hours, until doubled in volume.
Meanwhile, place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, (or a baking sheet) on the middle oven rack and preheat the oven to 190C.

Mix together the tahini and sugar and stir until smooth. Set aside.
Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Work with 3 at a time, keeping the others covered.

Flatten each out on a lightly floured surface, and then roll each out to a rectangle about 5 inches by 10 inches. Spread the top surface with 2 1/2 tablespoons of the filling mixture, spreading it almost to the edges.

Roll up the rectangle from a long side into a cylinder, which will stretch as you roll to about 20 inches long. Anchor one end and coil the bread around itself, then tuck the end in. Flatten with the palm of your hand, then set aside, covered, while you fill and shape the other 2 rectangles.
Return to the first coil and roll out gently with a rolling pin. Roll the other 2 out a little and then return to the first one and roll it out a little more thinly, and so on, until you have rolled each to a round about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. A little filling may leak out—don’t worry, just leave it.

Place the breads on the hot baking stone or tiles (or baking sheet) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and flaky. Transfer to a rack to cool. Shape and bake the remaining 3 pieces of dough.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6 golden brown, flaky textured coiled rounds, about 6 inches wide, filled with sesame paste and sugar.


I did half the recipe (3 swirls) as this was the first time I was making these. I also substituted half the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour and used brown sugar instead.
I also found that after rolling up the filling in the dough into cylinders, mine didn't quite reach the 20" length mentioned. So I lightly rolled the cylinders to stretch them out to 20".

My first thought on biting into one was that I should have made the full recipe, as we got only one each. The aroma of these swirls baking, almost makes it difficult to wait for them to cool down till they're safe enough to eat!

The "sukkar bin tahini" is a flaky, slightly chewy flatbread which isn't very sweet and perfect with a cup of coffee. And if you love sesame seeds and bread, just go for it!
And here's my Bread Baking Buddy badge!

These delightful flatbreads are going to be YeastSpotted too.


♥♥♥Ria♥♥♥ said...

I have always wanted to make homemade Tahini...now I have a reason to really go for it! The swirls look really good!! :)

jayasree said...

The swirls look very flaky. I have a jar of sesame seeds to be used up. Thanks for reminding abt tahini.

Raaga said...

I have multiple packets of sesame seeds at home and have only made tahini once to make hummus :)

Shall try this when the weather is a little better :)

Parita said...

Lovely Aparna, the swirls looks really good, never tried tahini filling, will try sometime :)

Natashya said...

They look gorgeous! Congrats on making your own tahini too, you are so creative! Thanks so much for baking with us this month.

Curry Leaf said...

Wow,Very new to me.the swirls looks flaky and was intrigued about the taste.So creative you are you made your own tahini.

Bergamot said...

Looks really good... will check out your tahini recipe too since I have been wanted to make it

Soma said...

I saw this at Tanna's, what a fantastic idea to use Tahini as sweet filling. Must have been so different from any other filling. feel like trying this out.

Sunshinemom said...

These swirls look marvelous. Very nicely done and lovely click too!

Hari Chandana said...

looks soo delicious n perfect.. lovely clicks!!!

Priya Narasimhan said...

I can't believe you made the swirls at home..They look like store bought ones.that professional..Even I wish to make tahini at home sometime.. :-)I am bookmarking this.

Nithya said...

Looks perfect and really tempting. :)

Simran said...

It looks and sounds divine!

Jude said...

I knew I wasn't alone in my love of tahini on bread. I use it much like I would butter on toast :)

Nags said...

the shape is so perfect..

Manggy said...

Tahini is expensive here too :( Luckily sesame seeds are not so i think I may make my own too- to make these lovely rolls!

breadchick said...

Aparna, excellent job and great use of your sesame seeds. Thanks for joining us this month.

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Mmm, tahini. These definitely do look and sound delightful.

Madam Chow said...

First, I am so impressed that you made your own tahini! I LOVED these. Loved them. I made the whole batch, ate one, gave away two to my brother, and left the rest for my husband because I had to fly out of town. At first he thought they were ok, but they definitely grew on him.

Aparna said...

Thanks you, once again. I definitely recommend these swirls.

Natashya, Thanks for having me bake along.