Sesame is an oil seed which is also considered a spice and the queen of oilseeds. It is scientifically known as ‘Sesamum indicum’ and belongs to the botanical family ‘Pedaliaceae’. It is also known by the names gingelly, benne, benniseed, simsim and sesamol.
Sesame is mainly used to extract oil, and then for making certain bakery and confectionery food items and to use as topping on burger buns, breadsticks, salads, etc - but depending on the varieties suitable for each purpose like oil extraction and food manufacturing. Sesame is found in many varieties. However, four of them: black, brown, white and red coloured ones are the most popular and widely used varieties.
The seed is believed to have originated in East Africa or Asia and the ancient Egyptians and the Chinese are said to have used the same more than 5000 years ago. Based on certain archaeological evidence, the Chinese have used it not only for cooking purposes but even for making ink from the soot processed by burning its oil. The Egyptians used to treat it with so much importance that they even included it in the precious items that were buried along with the mummies of pharaohs.
Sesame plants are annual herbs and they grow up to 2 feet in height and take around 3-4 months to be ready for harvest. The plants normally grow on a wide variety of soils. Nevertheless, the plants require light to medium textured loamy soils with good drainage for the best growth and yield. The plants are extremely tolerant to drought and dry climatic conditions and can even grow quite well in hot, dry climates. But, they still require sufficient water to bear maximum seeds that develop within pods. Sesame can be cultivated as a rainfed Kharif crop and normally it is grown in September-January.
Sesame seeds are high in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and proteins as they contain magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, iron, molybdenum, selenium, protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, sugar, sodium and vitamins B6 and E. And they are purported to lower cholesterol levels, maintain oral health, fight infections, help prevent certain types of cancer, increase bone strength, reduce inflammation and boost immunity strength.
The largest producer of sesame is Myanmar, followed by India, China, Sudan and Tanzania. The main exporter is Sudan, followed by India, Nigeria, Burma and Tanzania, while the top importers are China, Japan, Turkey, South Korea and Iran.
In India, the largest producer of sesame seed is Gujarat, followed by West Bengal, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
Some of the major trading markets of sesame in India:
Gujarat (Unjha, Rajkot, Selari, Ahmedabad)
West Bengal (Murshidabad, Uttar Dinajpur, Nadia)
Karnataka (Mysuru, Sirsi, Tumakuru, Karwar)
Rajasthan (Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner)
Names of sesame in different Indian languages:
*Take necessary precautions while giving money or product in advance.