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 Traditional & Herbal Remedies

october 2012
Open Sesame
Sanjeev Kapoor
Til or Sesame is versatile and changes the face of many recipes. I still have fond memories of Lohri in Delhi with the fire crackling away and with every little rewri popped into it as offering the fire blazing a bit more…‘til’ the end.
The tiny little sesame seed gives the best of the nuts a stiff competition. Nutty when toasted, the til has a sweet aroma and milky-buttery taste. The burger brigade knows about it too, as white sesame tops the burger buns. It comes as an interesting bit of info that sesame seeds are subject to a special hulling process, which produces the clear white seeds. These seeds are then double washed, dried and used on hamburger buns. This special process allows the seed to stick to the bun while maintaining a white colour even after baking.

Bread, breadsticks, cookies are ideal products for roasted sesame seeds. It is a key ingredient in a variety of world cuisines, especially Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean. In my recipe collection, I love to use sesame with honey…in chicken, prawns and fried noodles and to make daarsaan.

I also appreciate the way the Gujarati preparations use sesame on top of dhoklas, patra, handvo and in some vegetables like chips nu shaak and papri nu shaak… Sesame along with peanuts is used to good effect in the tilli-phalli gravy ever so popular in Hyderabadi cuisine. Sesame also creates the creamy, sweet wholesome tahini, which is rich in protein and a very good source of energy.
More To It’s Size
Sesame seeds come in a variety of colours depending on the plant variety, including shades of brown, red, black, yellow and most commonly, a pale grayish ivory. The darker seeds are said to be more flavourful, but beware of seeds that have been dyed. Because of their oil content, sesame seeds have a shelf life of about two years if stored tightly-capped in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator. Sesame seeds contain three times more calcium than a comparable measure of milk; they are also rich in vitamins B and E, iron and zinc. Sesame is high in protein and contains no cholesterol. Sesame oil, on the other hand, is remarkably stable and will keep for years without turning rancid, even in hot climates. It is most popular in Asia. In our own Tamil Nadu, its widespread use is similar to that of olive oil in the Mediterranean. It is excellent for salads and pickles and is used by the Japanese for cooking fish.

Til the end…
Til is versatile and changes the face of many recipes: top some open toast generously with til and either grill or fry for a crispy, nutty, topping or take a handful and add to imli til ka pulao or go traditional and make some ‘tilache laddoo.
Sanjeev Kapoor Master Chef, Author & Television Host, Khana Khazana India Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai.