"Open sesame" the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights reflects the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity. Sesame is one of the oldest oilseed crops known and was a major summer crop in the Middle East for thousands of years, as attested by the discovery of many ancient presses for sesame oil in the region. Sesame is drought-tolerant and is able to grow where other crops fail and has one of the highest oil contents of any seed.
With a rich nutty flavor, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world. Sesame is a popular and essential ingredient in many Middle Eastern cuisines. Sesame seeds are made into a paste called tahina and a confectionary called halawah. Be it fast food restaurants or local bakeries, sesame seeds are seen sprinkled onto buns or bread sticks to add both aroma and flavour.
Sesame seeds are not only an excellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber. In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect and prevent high blood pressure and increases vitamin E supplies in humans. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.