Table of content A-Z

 

sesame

 

Synonyms: beniseed, oriental sesame, gingelly

botanical name: Sesamum indicum


Sesam

 

Sesame probably originated in Ethiopia or India. Approximately 3000 years ago it reached Mesopotamia (Syria, Turkey and Iraq), later China, Japan and Vietnam.

The plant requires a very warm climate and is grown today in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Among the largest producers are India, China, Mexico, the Sudan and Nigeria.


Availability


White or pale-brown sesame is available in most supermarkets; it is sold both shelled and unshelled. The black seeds are found more in Turkish food shops, and gold-yellow sesame, typical for Chinese cooking, is only rarely sold in Germany.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


The annual sesame is an herbaceous plant that can be only 30 cm or more than 2 m tall, according to the variety. The stalks are square or hexagonal and hardly branched. The leaves are 5–15 cm long and less than 1 cm wide, entire or dentate. From the reddish-white bell-shaped flowers develop 2–3 cm oval fruits in which the seeds mature.

The seeds belong botanically to the capsular fruits and may be creamy white, reddish-brown, brown or even black. They are only 2–4 mm long and have an oval, rather flattened shape. They taste nutty, mild, oily and slightly sweet.


Ingredients


Like all other seeds, sesame contains very little water. At the same time, the seeds contain a large amount of fat, making them high in calories. Moreover, sesame is rich in fibre and has large amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. It has a high content of vitamin E and vitamins of the B group.

However, sesame is normally eaten in only small portions, so the nutrient intake should not be overestimated.

100 g contain:


Sesame, fresh
Sesame, roasted
Energy (kcal)
559
588
Water (g)
5
5
Protein (g)
18
16
Fat (g)
50
55
Carbohydrates (g) (g)
10
9
Fibre (g)
11
10
Vitamin A (RE) (µg)
7
45
Vitamin E (mg)
3
4
Vitamin B1 (mg)
0,9
0,4
Vitamin B2 (mg)
0,2
0,1
Niacin (mg)
9
7
Vitamin B6 (mg)
0,5
0,3
Folic acid (µg)
97
44
Potassium (mg)
458
416
Sodium (mg)
45
41
Calcium (mg)
738
672
Magnesium (mg)
347
316
Iron (mg)
10,0
9,1
Saturated fatty acids
6,8
6,9
Monounsaturated fatty acids (g)
19,1
22,4
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (g)
22,3
23,2



Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions


The seeds should be stored in a cool, dark place in an air-tight container.


Presumed effect on health


In the folk medicine of some of the countries that produce it, sesame is used as a healing remedy for menstrual disorders, rheumatism, as a diuretic and a laxative. It is also held to have an aphrodisiac effect.

In addition, poultices with ground sesame are used to relieve burns and ulcerous sores.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


In Germany it is predominantly the white or pale-brown sesame that is used in baking. The whole seeds are sprinkled on bread, rolls and salty snacks for flavour and decoration. They are also popular in sweets and cereal bars.

Sesame can also be used in cooking. The aroma is nutty and more intensive when the seeds are roasted briefly in a dry pan prior to use. Zucchini, green beans, broccoli, aubergines, asparagus and cauliflower taste good with sesame seeds. Legumes, noodles and curd cheese can also be refined with toasted sesame seeds.

In the Middle East a paste called tahini is made from ground sesame seeds, lemon juice and garlic; it is very popular in salad dressings and dips, to flavour vegetables and meat dishes, and as an ingredient in chick-pea soup. The sesame paste is served with bread as an appetizer.

In East Asian cuisine, rice, beef and poultry dishes are sprinkled with sesame, and the ground seeds are used to thicken sauces. In North America, fish dishes are seasoned with sesame.

In many Asian countries various sweets are made of the shelled seeds, honey and other ingredients. Perhaps you are familiar with the oriental halva, Turkish delight, or the Indian confection til laddoos, which are sesame balls flavoured with cardamom.

Sesame belongs to the oil seeds, as it is used in large measure to extract oil. The cold-pressed oil tastes excellent with salads and is suited for seasoning East Asian dishes. It must not be overheated.

The oil keeps well for a long time, and it is used industrially to make margarine and shortening. It is used as well in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.


Seasoning tip


Sesame harmonizes with cloves, ginger, pepper, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, oregano, thyme and cinnamon. It also combines well with garlic, caraway and cayenne pepper.


Miscellaneous


The young leaves of the sesame plant are also used as a vegetable in West Africa.

 

 

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