Black Sesame seeds, also known as kala til, is one of oldest condiments known to man. They are highly valued for their oil. “Open Sesame”- the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights symbolizes the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity. It may be a small seed but no doubt a very powerful one, used for many health-promoting and anti-ageing benefits. You can incorporate these nutrient-rich seeds in your cereals, rice, noodles or any other dishes at mealtime. You could even mix them with your yoghurt or smoothie for a rich nutty flavor.
In Japan, whole seeds are found in servings of mixed greens and baked snacks, and tan and black sesame seed varieties are toasted and used to make gomashio, a dry condiment. You will also find sesame seeds sprinkled over sushi rolls. Black sesame seeds are also popularly used in Korean cooking to marinate meat and vegetables. Chefs in tempura restaurants mix black sesame seeds with cottonseed oil for deep-frying. Sesame is also known as SimSim in Africa and used is to make various dishes like Wangila which is made with ground black sesame seeds is mostly presented with smoked fish or lobster.
According to Dr. Rupali Dutta, Chief Nutritionist, SmartCooky, “Black sesame seeds are a good source of energy due to the high fat content. They contain healthy fats like polyunsaturated fatty acids and Omega-6. They also contain fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.”
Black sesame seeds and its oil are used widely across India. The seeds are often blended with warm jaggery, sugar, or palm sugar and made into balls that are eaten as a snack. In Manipur, black sesame is used for the preparation of Thoiding and Singju (a kind of salad). Thoiding is prepared with ginger, chilli and vegetables and is served along with the spicy Singju dish. In Assam, black sesame seeds are used to make Til Pitha and tilor laru (sesame seed sweet balls) during the festival of Bihu.
Benefits of Black Sesame Seeds
1.Anti-ageing properties: The Chinese believe that the nutrients in black sesame seeds can help in postponing or reversing, certain age-related side effects. As per a study done by Harvard University in 2010, black sesame seeds are rich in vitamin B and iron, and most people who have a vitamin B or iron deficiency show symptoms like hair turning gray, hearing loss and memory loss, all of which are the indicators of ageing.
2. Decreases the risk of cancer: According to Dr.Ronald DePhino, Principal Investigator, M.D.Anderson Cancer Centre, Houston, the sesamin found in sesame seeds is found to protect the liver against the damage caused by free radicals in the body. Also, the seeds are rich in fiber, lignans (cell reinforcements) and phytosterol (phytochemicals), which can protect you against the development of colon cancer.
3. Relief for constipation and indigestion: Dr. Amol Ghosh from N.R.S. Hospial in Kolkata, says, “The black sesame seed can help in curing constipation due to the high fiber content and unsaturated fatty acid content. The oil found in the seed can lubricate your intestines, while the fiber in the seed helps in smooth bowel movements. These seeds also help in clearing up worms in your intestinal tract and improve the digestion process.” Grinding the seeds or soaking them overnight can help make the seeds more digestible.
4. Stabilizes your blood pressure: Black sesame seeds are rich in magnesium that helps prevent hypertension. Polyunsaturated fats and the compound sesamin present in sesame oil are known to keep blood pressure levels in check.
5. For healthier bones: According to Dr. Gargi Sharma, Nutritionist at Aayna Clinic in Delhi, “Osteoporosis is a condition of fragile bones with an increased susceptibility to fracture. Bone mass tends to decrease after the age of 35, and bone loss occurs more rapidly in women after menopause. Black sesame seeds are abundant in calcium and zinc that your bones strong.”
How to use black sesame seeds?
According to Dr. Anju Sood, a Bangalore-based nutritionist, “You can sprinkle these nutrient-rich seeds over your cereals, noodles or rice. You can also mix them with your yogurt or smoothie to give it that nutty flavour. Also, if you soak these seeds overnight it aids in the absorption of calcium and minerals from the seeds, as well as reduces the effects of oxalic acid found in them that can prevent the absorption of nutrients. People who have a weak stomach or a history of kidney stone, should not consume too much of it.”