One of the first oil seeds known to humankind, sesame seeds have been widely employed in culinary as well as in traditional medicines for their nutritive, preventive, and curative properties. Sesame is a primary source of phytonutrients such as omega-6 fatty acids, flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants, vitamins, and dietary fiber with potential anti-cancer as well as health promoting properties.
Sesame plant is a tall annual herb in the Pedaliaceae family, which grows extensively in Asia, particularly in Burma, China, and India. It is also one of the chief commercial crops in Nigeria, Sudan, and Ethiopia. Scientific name: Sesamum indicum.
Sesame plant requires well-drained sandy soil and tropical environment to flourish. It grows about 5 feet in height and bears plenty of pink-white foxglove-like flowers. The pods appear soon containing white, brown, or black seeds depending upon the cultivar type, arranged in vertical rows inside thin sacs. Each pod (2-5 cm in length) is a long rectangular box like a capsule with deep grooves on its sides. Each pod (1 to 2 inches in length) may contain up to 100 or more seeds.
Sesame seeds are small, almost oblate in shape. Toasted sesame features pleasant, nutty flavor.
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