Other Names: Til, Tal, Telu, Ellu, Elum, Kunjid, Kunzhut, Sesamon, Gergelim, Sésamo, Sesam
Sesame is an annual plant growing to 50–100 cm tall, with opposite leaves 4–14 cm long with an entire margin. The flowers are white to purple, tubular, 3–5 cm long, with a four-lobed mouth. Sesame seeds are tiny, flat oval seeds with a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible crunch. Sesame is not strictly a nut but shares many of the characteristics including its flavour and richness in oil. Sesame seeds vary from white to light brown and black. The white variety is the most popular for consumption.
An oil is extracted from the seed and used for cooking, salad oil and margarines. It is also available as toasted sesame oil for oriental cooking. The whole seeds can also be eaten and are most often seen as a decoration on cakes, confectionery etc. Sesame seed paste, tahini, is used in many dishes e.g. hummus. Halva, a sweet made from sesame seeds is often found in health food shops. Both sesame oil and roasted seeds are used extensivily in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cooking.
Sesame seeds are a very good source of manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber.