Sesame seeds are the emperor of your kitchen!
Do you know how?
Let’s hear his story from his mouth!
Sesame Seeds Speak:
But I’m sure that after reading this article, you will surely remember me while having Mc’D burger on your table!
So enjoy my story below and have fun!”
What is Sesame?
Before we dive deep in the world of Sesame, let’s have a brief biography of sesame seeds!
2.1 Brief Introduction
Sesame is the flowering erect plant, which comes under the genus of Sesamum. We know it with another name Benne too!
This is one of the oldest seed plants used for food, flavoring and for its oil.
Its roots are stretched in the history back to around 5000 years ago. It is widely cultivated around the world, especially in tropical regions.
Due to the rich oil content in its seed and nutty flavor, sesame is liked and used in many cuisines around the globe.
2.2 Etymology of various names:
The medical term for Sesame is Sesamum indicum L. It comes from the family of Pedaliaceae and the genus of Sesamum.
The word “Sesame” comes from the Latin word Sesamum or Greek word Sesamon.
The Arabic word Simsim or Coptic letter Semsem is also used for Sesame.
In Sanskrit it is known as ‘Til’.
Early Egyptians used to call is as Semsent. This word was later introduced in the Egyptian medical papyrus named Ebers Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian book having the vast ancient knowledge of herbal medicines.
In India sesame is known with various names in different parts of the country such as, Tila, Til, Ellu, Tara, Gumbulu etc.
In different parts of the world, there are some other interesting names of sesame.
They are abongra, Hu ma, Zhi ma, Cham kkae, Sesamo, sim sim, Shiro goma, Semilla de ajonjoli, Graines de sesame, Sesamzaad, Sezam indyjski, Sesame blanc and many more.
After knowing its various names, now let’s turn into the deepest historical roots of Sesame.
Ancient History of Sesame:
It is considered to be one of the oldest oil extracting plant used by Chinese people.
3.1 Asian roots
The Sesame seeds history roots back to the time of 5000 years ago in Asia. India is considered to be its native place.
Researchers have found that these seeds were widely grown and cultivated in some parts of India around 1600 BC.
They have found the records indicating the use of Sesame seeds by Chinese people. They used to burn the Sesame oil and make soot simply for one of the finest Chinese ink blocks!
Archeological excavations have recovered the charred remains of Sesame from 3500-3050 BC.
In addition to this, they have claimed that there were trade relations between Mesopotamia and the Indian Subcontinent by 2000 BC.
And surprisingly sesame was one of the commodities that were traded during that time!
Some research has found that People used to cultivate Sesame seeds during Ptolemaic Period in Egypt around 323 BC.
This period was started after the death of Alexander the Great and continued till the death of Cleopatra VII, when the Romans conquered it in 30 BC.
New Kingdom is also mentioned for the cultivation of sesame seeds during this age in Egypt.
The reports dating around 4000 years ago mentions that sesame was cultivated in Babylon and Assyria.
Egyptian civilization used to call sesame with the name “sesemt”.
Early records of Ebers Papyrus mention this name. Ebers Papyrus is the Egyptian medicinal book of herbal plants and knowledge.
It is as old as over 3600 years ago and contains all the medicinal information of that period and it includes the uses of sesame seeds too!
The reports from Turkey’s archeological department speaks that people used to cultivate these seeds during the empire of Urartu before 2750 years ago.
It also mentions that these seeds were pressed and crushed to extract oil from that.
3.3 European Genre
Sesame was one of them!
Here the value of sesame increased for both medicinal purpose and also for cuisine culture.
3.4 African Arena
The genus of Sesamum is native to the Sub Saharan Africa actually.
The Africans called the seeds with the name of “benne” in Africa. They cultivated this plant and used it for cooking and oil purpose.
After the Slave Trade period of Africa, many slaves brought the sesame seeds along with them to Europe and America.
Here they cultivated this crop and used for both medicinal and cooking purposes.
3.5 Modern Age
In modern age, people around the world widely grow these magical tiny seeds.
However, China and India are the largest producers today.
Sesame seeds crop is found in most of the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. You may also find it in Southern temperate areas of the globe.
This crop requires very less water and hence grown in draught like areas in developing countries of southern latitudes.
In the year 2014, the world produced 6.2 million metric tons sesame seeds, where Tanzania, India and Sudan were the largest producers.
Year 2017 brought a slight decline in the production of sesame seeds.
In January- April 2017, China imported around 310000 MT sesame seeds from the producing countries.
At the same time India harvested 680000 metric tons of sesame in the year 2017.
Types of Sesame Seeds
As we learnt earlier in this post that Sesame is coming from the Sesamum genus of Pedaliaceae family.
This Pedaliaceae family possesses its 37 wild and 1 cultivated types.
Moreover, it is believed that this 1 cultivated type possesses around 3000 breeds of Sesame!
These 3000 breeds are divided in mainly four types of Sesame seeds. They are,
- White Sesame
- Black Sesame
- Golden or yellow or brown Sesame
- Red Sesame
Aayurveda describes mainly three types of sesame seeds based on their colors. They are as below.
- Krishna, i.e. Black Sesame
- Raktha, i.e. Red Sesame
- Shweta, i.e. White Sesame
Now we shall go dipper in these types of sesame.
Aayurveda recommends the use of Black Sesame seeds as it is opulent in its nutrition.
Black sesame seeds contain bulk of energy source as they are rich in fat such as polyunsaturated fatty acids and of course Omega 6.
They also have the nutritional value like magnesium, phosphorous, fiber, calcium and iron.
Black sesame seeds have the potency of retaining their hulls and hence they are richer in calcium.
- Many people across the world use it for medicinal purpose and to prepare various cuisines out of it.
- They mainly prepare sesame preparations like black sesame tofu, black sesame pudding and sauce as well for rice dumplings.
- You can also use it for seasoning salads for various vegetables. Some Asian recipes also widely use it like pastries and even in cup cakes.
- In the western part of India, the black sesame seeds are widely consumed during the winter season.
- The people here, crushes the black sesame seeds and squeezes the oil from it.
- They prepare a palatable dish named “kachariyu” out of the remnants of the seeds. People consume this item during winter to nurture the body and maintain the health during cold environment.
White sesame seeds come on second rank of preference after black sesame seeds. They are soft and dull but have sweet flavor.
The producers hull these seeds and thus remove their shell.
Once they hull it, the same remains white always unlike black sesame it doesn’t change its color. It is commonly available in any grocery shop nearby you.
The nutritional value of white sesame seeds is not much different than black sesame.
But the producers do not hull the black seeds and thus it retains its calcium. While white sesame seeds are hulled and so possesses less minerals in it.
It is rich in vitamin E, vitamin B3 and vitamin B15 along with calcium, protein and magnesium.
The oil of this sesame seeds is used not only for cooking but also for the skin and health benefits.
- People of Middle East uses white sesame seeds to prepare most famous sesame seed candy or paste named “tahini”.
- Along with some chick peas and tahini a delicious dish hummus is made.
- You will find white sesame seeds in Caribbean cuisine too as peanut brittle bar made from white sesame seeds.
- Similarly Japanese people prepare goma dofu of Japanese recipe from white sesame seeds paste and starch.
- In South India you will get white sesame seeds and coconut paste (chutney) with various spicy recipes such as idli sambhar, dosa, uttappa and upma.
- Bakers across the globe likes white sesame seeds so much. They use it to sprinkle them upon the breads and buns. Roasted white sesame seeds are mixed with honey or jiggery or syrup to make sesame candy.
Apart from cooking uses of white sesame seeds, people also use it for medicinal and skin care and health benefits. We will learn more about it in our upcoming section.
Farmers grow these seeds in tropical areas of Middle East and Asian countries like India, China etc.
This sesame seeds are rich in copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, selenium and calcium.
These minerals make its color red.
The minerals like copper helps to reduce the pain and swellings of rheumatoid arthritis.
It also plays a vital role to provide the body strength, elasticity and nourishment in blood vessels, bones and joints.
- You may not find these seeds very easily everywhere around your grocery shop. Due to its limited availability, people use it less as compared to white and black sesame seeds.
- In various cuisines, people use it to spread the aroma and flavor of the recipe.