Updated: Feb 2, 2019
Sesame is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum, also called benne. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India.
It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible sesame seeds, which grow in pods or "buns".
Sesame seed is one of the oldest oilseed crops known, domesticated well over 3000 years ago. Sesamum has many other species, most being wild and native to sub-Saharan Africa.
Sesamum indicum, the cultivated type, originated in India and is tolerant to drought-like conditions, growing where other crops fail.
Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. With a rich, nutty flavour, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world
Sesame seed is a common ingredient in various cuisines. It is used whole in cooking for its rich, nutty flavor. In Asia, sesame seeds are sprinkled onto some sushi-style foods.
In Japan, whole seeds are found in many salads and baked snacks, and tan and black sesame seed varieties are roasted and used to make the flavouring gomashio.
East Asian cuisines, like Chinese cuisine, use sesame seeds and oil in some dishes, such as dim sum, sesame seed balls; Cantonese: jin deui, and the Vietnamese bánh rán.
Sesame flavor (through oil and roasted or raw seeds) is also very popular in Korean cuisine, used to marinate meat and vegetables.
Chefs in tempura restaurants blend sesame and cottonseed oil for deep-frying.