Sesame Seeds a Complete Guide

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From the annual herbaceous tropical plant, sesame seeds have been used for centuries by the Egyptians, Hebrews and Ancient Greeks it is now most commonly associated with the Greeks, Chinese and North Africans as a staple of their cookery.

Sesame Seeds

Although the seeds are used widely in breads, cakes and pastries their unique flavour really comes into its own when mashed into a paste or pressed into oil. Cold pressed, sesame seeds make a strong flavoured oil, light brown in colour with a distinctive nutty flavour and aroma. The Chinese use toasted sesame oil mostly for flavouring and marinating or garnishing cold dishes rather than as a cooking medium because it burns at a relatively low temperature.

Of all its uses, sesame seeds are perhaps best known for their role in tahini, a thick, oily paste made from the raw seeds which is paler in colour and more bitter than the cold toasted paste used by the Chinese. Tahini is a common ingredient throughout the cookery of the Middle East and is particularly good with grilled vegetables and fish or as a dip for breads and raw vegetables. Tahini plays a vital part in baba ganoush; a sauce made from smoky aubergines, garlic and lemon juice.

Content and picture Miles Collins