Sesame is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods. Sesame seed is one of the oldest oilseed crops known, domesticated well over 3000 years ago.
In the food context, sesame refers to the seeds of the sesame plant, which are used in many culinary applications around the world.
Some examples of how sesame seeds are used in cooking include:
- Tahini: A paste made from ground sesame seeds that is commonly used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine as a dip or a sauce.
- Sesame oil: A flavorful oil made from sesame seeds that is commonly used in cooking and as a finishing oil for dishes.
- Sesame snaps: A sweet snack made from sesame seeds and sugar or honey.
- Gomasio: A Japanese seasoning made from toasted sesame seeds and salt that is commonly used as a condiment for rice dishes and other foods.
- Sesame crusted dishes: Sesame seeds are commonly used as a coating for meats, fish, and vegetables before they are fried or baked.
Similar ingredients to sesame include:
- Poppy seeds: The small, black seeds of the poppy plant that are commonly used as a topping for baked goods and in some savory dishes.
- Sunflower seeds: The edible seeds of the sunflower plant that are commonly used as a snack and in some baked goods and granolas.
- Flax seeds: The small, nutty seeds of the flax plant that are commonly used in baking and as a source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Chia seeds: Small, black or white seeds that are commonly used in baking and as a source of fiber and protein.