Lentil Dip with Tahini and Lemon

Continuing on the vegan theme as my grade school aged son has decided to do the Greek fast until Easter, I am trying variations of several recipes. Lentils is a favorite among kids here in Greece, we make it as a thick soup with good olive oil and plenty of vinegar. But I had bought several jars of tahini, which is basically sesame seed paste and is so nutritious, and wanted to incorporate it in a recipe with beans. Hummus comes first to mind but what about something with lentils, which are so much easier to cook?

Well I came across a recipe by noted chef Ottolenghi where he combines lentils with tahini and the result is fantastic. Using that recipe as the base, I made a vegan version so that someone following the Greek fast could enjoy it too. While the original recipe calls for puy lentils, I used small brown lentils.

This recipe although not Greek, has all the components of a Mediterranean meal, what differentiates it is the spices (in this case cumin) and the fresh coriander. These two ingredients are not used as often in traditional Greek cuisine. Nevertheless this dip is rich in protein, fiber, good fats from the tahini and olive oil, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

When you are buying tahini make sure it only contains sesame seeds, some brands may add other vegetable oils and salt which you don’t want.

We had it with koulouri Thessalonikis, a bread shaped like a ring covered with sesame seeds but you can enjoy it with pita bread, breadsticks or plain.

Lentil Dip with Tahini and Lemon

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
This Mediterranean lentil-tahini-lemon dip is so rich in flavor and nutrition, it will become a weekly favorite!
Course: Appetizer, dip, Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Dip, Lentils
Author: Elena Paravantes
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  • Boil the lentils for about 20 minutes with a bay leaf.
  • Strain and remove the bay leaf
  • In a pan sauté the garlic with cumin for a minute.
  • Add the tomatoes, tahini, cilantro, lemon juice, water and salt and pepper and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the lentils, mix gently.
  • Serve in a bowl or dish drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
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Photo by Elena Paravantes

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Recipe Rating


  1. I made this the other day and suddenly two days later it’s REALLY good after sitting in the fridge. I will remember to make it ahead of time for any special menu planning!4 stars

  2. Tahini is a paste made out of sesame seeds. Some hummus recipes use it, some don’t. You can use it in salad dressings, other recipes like the one above, sauces, baba ganoush, etc. You can buy it pre-made, but it is so easy to make on your own. It has two ingredients: sesame seeds and oil. Take a cup of sesame seeds and grind it in a food processor until it turns almost into a paste: stop a couple of times to scrape down the sides. Then add 2 tablespoons of oil (I used olive oil. I see some recipes call for olive oil, or another mild oil like grapeseed). Continue to process for another few minutes. Add more oil if you need to get the consistency you desire. Add a pinch of salt if you want (I don’t add any salt).

  3. Donna Cox says:

    What is tahini? i have never heard of it thank you

  4. I made this a few days ago. It’s very good. I even made my own tahini for it. I used part of it in this recipe, the rest in some lemon hummus I made as well.

  5. Hi could you tell me what type of lentils is used in this recipe. Or can any be used thank you

  6. Patti Alexakis says:

    I want to try it! Looks great! I have read on numerous Orthodox websites that olive oil is restricted during the Greek Lenten fast. Is this true? Thank you!

    1. Raina Milosheff says:

      My Bulgarian father born in 1910 used to say that in days of very old, in the villages, oil used to be stored in “animal skins/bladders,” therefore it was was not permitted during fast, which obviously today is now an issue. Also, you may find avoidance in the monasteries which may follow a strict aesthic fast . As long as it did not come from or “touched” an animal (storage) you were alright.

      Love adding this to my Lenten repetoire! Looking forward to making this dip and bringing it tomorrow to the “western” side of my family gathering on the 27th along with my other dishes.

  7. Looks wonderful, but what could I substitute for cilantro? (Possibly the only flavor I dislike.)

  8. Thank you for sharing these fasting recipes! I always find myself in a rut, repeating the same recipes.