Sesame Seeds or Til are Small oval seeds with black, yellow, white or red varieties, this extremely versatile seed is one of the few spices grown on all continents and used in almost all cuisines globally.
Sesame seeds are a winter spice and according to Ayurveda provides warmth to the body!
India’s love affair with Sesame is most pronounced, come winter, with a sweet called Gajak! A crispy millefeuille like texture made from white sesame seeds and jaggery. Made from a dough which is closer to noodles rather than a sweet, gajak is available in Meerut and Agra.
In South India, sesame oil or gingelly oil or ‘nallenai’ is used for tempering and almost exclusively in seafood cooking..but don’t be tempted to use this oil in a quick Chinese dish, as this is an oil made with raw sesame seeds and not the toasted variety used in many East Asian dishes!
Globally Sesame is widely used in tahini, hummus and other mezze dishes! Japan uses Sesame oil in many of their dishes including sushi and many fish preparations! But the worlds leader in sesame use is McDonald’s, who use it as a garnish for their burgers!