November 18, 2023

Where Do Sesame Seeds Come From?

Sesame seeds have a delicate, nutty flavor that adds crunch and depth to many dishes. Most people toast them to bring out the flavor and nutty aroma, but raw seeds are also used in some recipes, particularly in Chinese cooking. They’re a main ingredient in the Middle Eastern dish tahini (also known as hummus) and can be found in crackers, salad dressings, rice dishes, soups, hamburger buns, and more.

The earliest sesame seeds were likely grown in Africa, and from there they spread to Asia and Europe. They need a tropical climate to thrive, but they’ve been cultivated in areas like Sudan and Myanmar for generations. They’re the oldest oilseed crop in history, according to MasterClass.

Whole and toasted sesame seeds are sprinkled on many Asian-inspired dishes, including tan or black sesame powder, which is used to create the Japanese condiment gomashio. They’re also mixed into rice for a sushi-style snack called jin deui or Vietnamese banh ran, and chefs use them to season tempura batter before frying.

They’re a great source of protein, Vitamin B1, dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, calcium, and manganese. They’re a natural anti-inflammatory and are also believed to help lower blood cholesterol. They may also have a positive effect on diabetes because of their high oligomeric proanthocyanidin content, which can reduce the absorption of glucose in the body. However, anyone with diabetes should always consult a doctor.

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