By Sani Nahuche
You’ve probably enjoyed Sesame seeds with your food or if not you’ve at least had a chance to hear or use the famous phrase ‘open sesame’ generated from the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open once the seeds are mature. Loaded with so much power, organic minerals and nutrients, the sesame seeds are tiny.
The word sesame originates from the Latin word sesamum; Greek sesamon and Arabic word semsem which all draw toward the meaning ‘oil or liquid fat’. It is a of a flower plant with yellow tubular flowers. The flowers may also occur in white, purple or blue colors. The plants fruit is a capsule that holds the seeds and on maturity bursts open to release them. The most famous seeds are off-white but they also occur in colors like buff, golden-brown, reddish, gray and black. Sesame is considered one of the seeds with the highest oil contents.
There is an Assyrian myth that states that the gods has sesame wine the night before they creates the earth. This story is the earliest documentation of use sesame as a spice. Sesame is considered the oldest oilseed crop known to humanity. There are charred remains of sesame recovered from archeological sited dating back to between 3500- 3050 BC. However, the domestication of this distinct nutty flavored is stated as 3,000 BC. There are also claims that there was sesame trading between Mesopotamia and India back in 2000BC. The cultivation of sesame seeds is considered to have begun in India even though most wild species of sesame were found in sub-Saharan Africa.
The historic origin of sesame and drastic spread other parts of the world is linked to it being a survivor crop. Sesame is one of the crops that will survive in different conditions including drought and high heat, limited rain or moisture and even in excessive rains. Where other crops fail, Sesame thrives. Being a robust crop, it also requires little farming support making it easy to farm.
Today, the world produces over 6.1 million tons of sesame seeds with countries like Tanzania Myanmar, India Sudan, China and Nigeria producing the highest quantities of Sesame seeds in the world. It is among the highest valued cash crop among the countries that have taken the farming and production of sesame seed seriously.
To get to your favorite cake or burger or meal, for those tiny nutty flavored seeds it has been a journey and to date, their flavor and nutritional benefits still remains intact if not better.