Origin: Sesame seed is one of the oldest oilseed crops in the world. This seed is known to be 3000 years old. Sesame seed is also known as Sesamum. These seeds have several species and natively belongs to Sahara area of Africa. Sesamum indicum is one of the species popular in India. This species is believed to have originated in India. This seed type can grow in drought weather, unlike other crops.
Archaeological studies suggest that Sesame seed was first introduced in the Indian subcontinent almost 5500 years ago. The remains of sesame seeds have been found archeological excavations which date back to 3500-3050 BC. Some studies claim that sesame was cultivated in Egypt during the Ptolemaic period, while others suggest the New Kingdom.
There are records from Babylon and Assyria which are 4000 years old and have a mention of sesame. Egyptians are known to call it sesemt, and it is also mentioned in the list of medicinal drugs in the scrolls of the famous Ebers Papyrus dated to be over 3600 years old. Archeological records from Turkey also indicate that sesame was grown and pressed to extract oil almost 2750 years ago in the empire of Urartu.
Scientifically: Scientifically, it is known as Sesamum indicum. The historic origin of sesame was favored by its ability to grow in areas that do not support the growth of other crops. This is also a robust crop that needs little or no farming support. It can grow in drought conditions, with an extreme hot climate. It can grow with very less water. This crop is also known as survivor crop.
The plant is a perennial herb and has foxglove-like flowers that produce pods which contain edible sesame seeds. The pods burst open with a pop when the seeds are mature and ready to be taken out.
Usage: The seeds are also pressed for sesame oil. In Asia, sesame seed is used as a condiment. It is also used to make a paste or a dip often used as a substitute for Peanut butter. Toasted sesame seeds are also used to make Tahini sauce in the Middle East.
Sesame seeds are available in Black and white form. The white sesame seeds have a delicate flavor and are used for cooking. The black seeds have a richer flavor and a stronger aroma.
Sesame seeds have a nutty, slightly sweet taste and aroma can be enhanced by toasting. The black seeds are slightly bitter.
Sesame seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are an excellent source of copper and a great source of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, vitaminB12 and vitamin B1.
It is also considered to be a great source of fiber and is helpful in lowering bad cholesterol. They have a very low glycemic index, therefore it helps in balancing the blood sugar level.
Below are some DIY with sesame seeds for beautiful skin and hair:
- Take a tablespoon of sesame seeds and soak them in 2-3 tablespoons of milk for 3-4 hours. Blend them together and apply on the face. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Rinse as usual. This helps in moisturizing and nourishing dry skin.
- Massaging the body with sesame seed oil helps in detoxifying and nourishing of the deep tissues.
- Take 2 tablespoons of powdered black sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of dried amla powder. Mix them together with some water to make a thick paste. Apply this on the roots of the hair and leave it on for 30 minutes. This hair pack helps in preventing premature graying of the hair.
- Applying sesame seed oil on the face reduces the appearance of wrinkles and prevents aging.
- Mix a tablespoon of sesame seed oil with a tablespoon of coconut oil. Applying this concoction of oils helps in deep conditioning of dry and damaged hair. Leave it on for 45 minutes and then shampoo as usual.