Sesame and sesame paste Tahini: The plant of the oilseeds

WHow we even mentioned it can no longer be reconstructed. In any case, after our almost meticulously planned cinema event, it was suddenly about Tahini, which has little to do with Bond, James Bond. However, “No Time to Die” reminded us of some of the old films, and maybe it was the scenic train ride – across the desert in evening attire – on the Oriental Desert Express (“Specter”) that inspired us over wine, a few Minutes to philosophize about sesame paste.

Sonja Kastilan

Responsible for the “Science” section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Of course, it was about the nutty taste, a high oil, i.e. calorie content and the kick that you can give vegetables, salads or sauces with it. And what would chickpea sauce be without a good helping of tahini, tahini or tahini? Certainly a lot, just not fine hummus, which is one of the classic starters in oriental cuisine, whether enjoyed as a dip in Morocco, Israel, Syria, Turkey or the old Levant. There is no end to arguing about the best recipe, and I can Cicer arietinum, the chickpea, also gain a lot in other ways, but what is actually about the sesame, which is now notorious for its allergy potential?

A few years ago in a Japanese supermarket I came across a pack of small sachets, the contents of which were supposed to be used as scattering material for all kinds of food. It showed the pale panicles of a plant that vaguely resembled the European foxglove, but I couldn’t imagine that the Japanese would poison its longevity, of all things Digitalis-Seeds in the seaweed salad. What on earth was that?

The Japanese also swear by it

In the course of my search, I soon came across a plant that also helps to order the Lamiales counts, the mint-like, but belongs to a different family: the Pedaliaceae. Thirteen genera fall under it, one of which is Sesamum with an estimated 23 species, and besides S. radiatum as a popular leaf vegetable is particularly popular in Africa and Asia today S. indicum cultivated – as one of the oldest oilseed crops. Their seeds contain around sixty percent oil, around 25 percent protein and are rich in antioxidants and trace elements.

At 300 to 400 kilos per hectare, the yield is modest because the seed pods either burst open during harvest and lose their content or are harvested too early, i.e. immature. And with the tools of molecular biology, researchers not only want to find out how yields can be increased, but also what makes some varieties resistant to fungal diseases or drought and which genes influence oil production. A review in the Frontiers of Plant Science from 2017 provides an insight into these possibilities of the “omics era” and incidentally mentions that the cultivated plant is from the wild form S. malabaricum descends, too S. mulayanum called.

In the Indian subcontinent, sesame has been used as food, oil, and for religious or therapeutic purposes for more than 5000 years, and the oldest traces were found in sites of the Bronze Age Indus culture, Harappa. The sesame seed arrived in Far Eastern China at the time of the Han dynasty, and when it seduced Mesopotamia in the west is difficult to say because it cannot always be confused with linseed in ancient written sources. Recently, however, tartar can serve as evidence: Samples from the sites of Megiddo and Tel Erani in today’s Israel suggest that sesame was found in the 2nd millennium BC. Was already one of the staple foods in the Levant. Only the original recipe remains secret for the time being.


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