Sesame is an ancient spice, one of the first recorded plants used for its seeds. It has been used for
thousands of years and is still an oil seed of worldwide significance. Early Assyrians believed their gods drank sesame wine as a prelude to creating the world.
A drawing on an Egyptian tomb of 4,000 years ago depicts a baker adding sesame seeds to dough. Around the same time, the Chinese were burning sesame oil to make a soot for ink. Ancient Greek soldiers carried sesame seeds as energy boosting emergency rations and the Romans made a kind of hummus from sesame and cumin. Sesame has been considered a symbol of good luck and signifies immortality to Brahmins.
Sesame oil is a non-drying oil, highly stable rarely turning rancid in hot climates. It is very rich in protein, a polyunsaturated fat used in margarine production and cooking oils. Non-culinary uses include its use as an ingredient in soap, cosmetics, lubricants and medicines. In southern India it is used to anoint the body and hair. The “Open Sesame” of Arabian Nights fame, probably derives from the sound the ripe seeds make when they burst from their pods, a popping noise that sounds like a lock spring opening.
Sesame seeds are contained in the pods of a tropical plant. They are tiny, flat ovals, measuring about 3 mm (1/8 in) long. Seed colour can vary, though they are usually beige or creamy white when husked. The seeds are sold dried and whole or ground to form tahini paste
Bouquet: Nutty and earthy
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Preparation and Storage
The whole seeds are enhanced by lightly toasting before use. They are ready when they start to jump. Store in airtight containers out of light. Tahini paste tends to settle into layers and requires stirring before use. It should be kept in a tightly sealed glass jar.