The humble til or sesame has a wealth of goodness including being a valuable source of calcium, says Naini Setalvad
Sesame seeds. Oh how I love them. I can have spoonfuls of them every day. Indeed, I have to stop myself from consuming too much. In a Gujarati household, especially in my family, sesame is a habitual mouth freshener. Roasted and flavoured with lemon salt and turmeric, a pinch is mandatory after a meal. Winter, though, is when the sesame really comes into its own. In every part of India there will be sweets made of sesame like til ladoos, gajaks and chikkis –all of them equally delicious, and what is more to the point, guaranteed to keep you toasty warm.
Sesame seeds may be the oldest condiment known to man. They keep very well, do not get rancid easily and therefore their oil is very valuable. ‘Open sesame,’ the famous phrase from Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, tells us about the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open automatically on reaching maturity. The Assyrian legend says when the gods met to create the world, they drank wine made from sesame seeds!
These seeds may have first originated in India and were mentioned in early Hindu legends. In many legends, sesame seeds represent a symbol of immortality.
Did you know that half a cup of sesame seeds contains three times more calcium than half a cup of whole milk? Lactating woman are always given sesames seeds to increase production of milk in traditional Indian diets. The Japanese consume ground sesames seeds called gomasio every day as a substitute for salt. It aids digestion and prevents acidity.
• A source of protein.
• Contains Vitamin E and the B group of vitamins except Vitamin B 12.
• Plenty of fibre hence regulates bowels and prevents constipation.
• High in polyunsaturated fats.
• Contain sesamin and sesamblin that prevent high blood pressure and protect the liver against damage.
• It has magnesium that promotes respiratory and vascular health.
• Helps prevent colon cancer, osteoporosis (due to zinc and calcium content).
• Relieves migraine and PMS symptoms.
• Removes intestinal worms from the body.
• Sesame oil rubbed on the skin gives relief to joint pains and may soothe a minor burn or sunburn as well as help in the healing process.
• Applied topically, heals chronic skin diseases as well as dry skin.Sesame seeds make good, healthy mid-meal snacks that satiate without recourse to excessive calories.
Sesame seeds add a nutty taste and a delicate, crunch to salads and vegetables. When roasted and ground into a paste with salt, it makes for a great substitute for butter, and can be used to lather your bread and rotis. The Middle Eastern tahini is one such butter substitute. Sesame seeds also consititute the main ingredient for humus, the popular Lebanese dish. The South Indian molagapodi, used as dry chutney for idlis and dosas, make extensive use of sesame.
Carrot and sesame salad
Carrot 200 gms
Raisons 3 tbsps
Roasted sesame 1 tbsp
Lemon few drops
Grate the carrot. Toss in roasted sesame, whole raisins, lime and salt. Mix well and serve.
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