The world production of sesame seed is almost wholly utilized for culinary purposes. In India, about 78% of sesame produced is used for oil extraction and about 20% is used for domestic purposes such as preparation of sweetmeats and confectionery (Maiti et al., 1988; Weiss, 1983) and about 2% is retained for the next sowing.
17.5.1 Human food
Dehulled sesame seeds are sweet and oleaginous and are used directly in different types of foods in various parts of the world. They are used in the manufacture of traditional confections such as halva, laddu and chikki in India. They are also eaten whole after roasting. A confection called laddus is prepared from roasted groundnuts and sesame seeds by pounding with jaggery in the proportion of 2:1:2. Small balls are prepared by hand (ICMR, 1977). Laddus are also prepared from sesame seeds by mixing them with hot jaggery or sugar syrup. The confection prepared by mixing sesame seeds with jaggery or sugar has an auspicious connotation in many southern states of India. The confections are distributed or exchanged with each other to signify a great deal of sharing of goodwill (Mulky, 1985). Chikki is another confection popular in Maharashtra and other western parts of India. It is prepared by pouring sesame seeds in boiling jaggery solution to obtain a thick slurry. The slurry is spread uniformly on a metallic sheet or table and cut into small rectangular pieces.
Ready-to-eat instant foods using sesame seeds have been developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research for use in rural areas (ICMR, 1977). Bajra instant food is prepared by mixing roasted bajra (pearl millet) flour (60 g) with roasted green gram dhal (15 g), roasted groundnut (10 g) and sesame seeds (5 g). The mixture is pounded to obtain a flour. When required, the powder is mixed with boiling water or milk to the desired thickness. Sugar or salt are added to taste. Ragi instant food is prepared in the same way by replacing bajra flour with ragi (finger millet) flour. The bajra instant food gives 18.6 g protein, 389 cal and 8% net dietary protein (NDP) cal per 100 g flour. The ragi instant food gives 16 g protein, 369 cal and 8% NDP cal per 100 g (ICMR, 1977).
In the Middle East, dehulled sesame seeds are mainly utilized in the production of tehineh (sesame butter) and halwah (halva). Tehineh is made from a paste of dehulled roasted seeds. Halwah is a sweet made up of tehineh, sugar, citric acid and Saponaria officinalis root extract. Tehineh and halwah are produced commercially in factories in the Middle East and North Africa. Tehineh is used in a variety of food dishes and added to bread and bakery products (Sawaya et al., 1985).
Sesame seeds and kernels are used in commercial bakeries for the preparation of quick breads, rolls, crackers, coffee cakes, pies and pastry products (Weiss, 1983; Farrell, 1985). The seeds are lightly roasted and used in salads and salad dressing (Farrell, 1985). Toasted seeds and butter or margarine make a tasty spread for bread.
Oil is the major product of sesame seed processing. In India, of the total sesame, about 75% oil is used for edible purposes as vegetable oil for culinary purposes, 5-10% goes to the vanaspati industry for vegetable ghee (a type of shortening) manufacture, and 4% for industrial uses as paints, soaps, perfumes, etc. (Salunkhe et al., 1992). Oil is a common constituent of Burmese dishes and is used in frying, roasting and stewing of meat, fish and vegetables. Sesame oil is highly favoured for cooking. Its nutty flavour is appreciated. The oil has excellent stability and keeps well at room temperature for two to three months. It makes an excellent frying medium for chickpea and meat, and is a good replacement for peanut oil (Farrell, 1985). Because of the quality and high price, sesame oil is frequently adulterated with groundnut, rape or cotton seed oils. In India, particularly in some parts of Maharashtra state, groundnut, safflower and sesame seeds are extracted together to produce the so-called sweet oil (Weiss, 1983). Sweet oil is cheaper than sesame oil and has a better stability than groundnut or safflower oils. Sesame oil can be readily hydrogenated to medium melting fats and different textures for use in margarine, shortenings and vanaspati (Patterson, 1983). It has mild pleasant taste and is a natural salad oil, requiring little or no winterization (Lyon, 1972).
Sesame meal has become an increasingly important human food because of the following unique properties: the presence of a high level of sulphur-containing amino acids, especially methionine and cystine (Block and Weiss, 1957; Evans and Bandemer, 1967; Smith, 1971), its lack of trypsin-inhibiting factors and its pleasant flavour. Sesame flour and meal have high protein content and is used to fortify foods (Parpia, 1966; Pomeranz et al., 1969; Rooney et al., 1972). Its use in the diet of children suffering from kwashiarkor has been found to be beneficial. It has been recommended as a protein supplement for soya and legume proteins (Boloorforooshan and Markakis, 1979; Brito and Nunez, 1982). Compoy et al. (1984) have prepared a snack food product using 70% chickpea and 30% sesame flour. Supplementation of black bean (Phaseolas vulgaris L.) meal with sesame meal significantly improved the PER and net protein retention (NPR) of black bean proteins. Maximum PER and NPR were obtained when sesame and black bean flours were mixed in 1 : 1 proportion. The sesame lipids, cholesterol and triglyciride levels were also influenced by supplementation of black bean flour with sesame flour.
A number of ready-to-use infant foods using sesame meal such as Cholam and samai porridge have been developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research, particularly for use in rural areas (ICMR, 1977). Sesame flour has been used as a methionine supplement in the preparation of fermented foods, vada and dosa, the most popular South Indian dishes (Gulati et al., 1979; Chopra et al., 1982). Sesame flour was used to replace 5-20% of riceblack gram flour. Sesame-supplemented dosa was found to be acceptable organoleptically and had higher levels of methionine than the plain dosa (Chopra et al., 1982).
There is an increasing interest in fortification of bread and cookies by replacing a portion of wheat flour with non-wheat flours, especially protein concentrates, isolates and oil meals (Dendy et al., 1970). The maximum level of replacement depends upon the type of non-wheat flour, the strength of wheat flour, the baking procedure and dough-stabilizing compounds used (Pringle et al., 1970). In most cases, a 10% replacement of wheat flour is optimum. At higher levels, loaf volume is severely decreased with serious deterioration of crumb colour, grain and texture (Mathews et al., 1970). Sesame flour has been used in the preparation of bread and cookies (Hoojjat, 1982). When used as a part of replacement of wheat flour, sesame flour performed better than sunflower flour. High-protein biscuits are prepared by mixing wheat flour with roasted chickpea and roasted sesame flour to prepare the dough (ICMR, 1977).
Blends of peanut/chickpea, wheat/chickpea, rice/chickpea, peanut/soybean, sunflower/ maize and cowpea/rice have all shown improved nutritional qualities with supplementation of sesame meal (Ensminger et al., 1994). Even more significant, however, is the finding that a simple blend of one part each of sesame and soya protein has about the same protein nutritive value as casein, the protein of milk. The high lysine and low methionine content of soya protein is complementary to sesame protein. Sesame meal is sometimes fermented for food in India and Java. In some European countries, it is also used as an ingredient in comminuted meat products.
The use of sesame flour or meal in formulating high-protein beverages has been reported (Tasker et al., 1966). Silva and Rivenos (1979) prepared a protein liquid from sesame. A nutritious beverage can be prepared using 70% soya protein and 30% sesame protein.
In India, defatted sesame meal is traditionally used for animal food. The cake is a valuable stock food (Maiti et al., 1988). It is rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus and niacin. The cake is well liked by the stock and keeps well in storage. It is considered equal to cottonseed cake or soyabean meal as a protein supplement for livestock and poultry. It is rich in methionine and is a valuable supplement to soyabean meal in livestock diets (Grau and Almqvist, 1944). Sesame meal proteins are, however, deficient in lysine. Lysine-rich materials such as soyabean meal, meat scrap and fish meal need to be combined with sesame cake to balance the diet. In the USA, most of the meal is used for livestock food. The inferior quality sesame cake or meal is used as a manure in China and Korea.
Sesame oil is used to some extent in industries. Only small proportion of low-grade oil is used for the manufacture of soaps, perfumes, paints, pyrethrum-based insecticides and for various other purposes for which the non-drying oils are generally adopted (Nayar and Mehra, 1970; Weiss, 1983). Its relative scarcity and high price normally render it uncompetitive for large-scale industrial utilization. Sesame oil forms the basis of most of the fragrant or scented oils as it is not liable to turn rancid or solidify and it does not possess an objectionable taste or odour. In the perfumery industry, sesame oil is used as a fixative. Scenting oil can be extracted from wetted sesame seeds that have been covered with layers of scenting flours and left covered for 12 to 18 hours. A kilogram of strongly scented flowers is enough to perfume six litres of sesame oil. Sesame oil has synergistic activity with insecticides such as pyrethrums and rotenone. The presence of sesame oil reduces the concentration of the insect toxin required to produce 100% mortality. The synergistic activity of sesame oil has been attributed to the presence of sesamol and sesamolin.
Sesame seeds, oil, leaves and roots have excellent medicinal value . Sesame plant has played a major role in India's rich and diverse health traditions. The people of India, who live in harmony with nature, have an incredible knowledge of the medicinal value of sesame plant and make use of nature's bounty to achieve the best health traditions. Sesame seeds are regarded as microcapsules for health and nutrition. It is supposed to tone the kidney and liver and relax the bowel. The seeds are an aromatic, digestive emollient that soften the skin, a nourishing tonic, an emmenagogue that stimulates menstruation, a demulcent, a soothing, laxative, an antispasmodic, a diuretic and promotes weight gain. Seeds are used for the treatment of constipation, tinnitus, anaemia, dizziness, poor vision and many general health problems associated with old age.
A paste of the seeds mixed with butter is helpful in treating bleeding piles. A decoction of sesame seed mixed with linseed is used as an aphrodisiac. The seeds milled and mixed with brown sugar are eaten by nursing mothers to encourage their milk production. Regular use of sesame seeds boosts the development of lustrous hair, particularly in children with poor hair development, a general problem in Western countries. Sesame seeds are also used traditionally as a medicine for causing abortion. The seeds are valuable in respiratory disorders such as chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, dry cough and other lung infections. Seeds also help in correcting irregular menstrual disorders and in reducing spasmodic pain during menstruation. Seeds are also useful in treatment of dysentery and diarrhoea.
Sesame oil has been extensively used for therapeutic and cosmetic purposes in the Indian system of cure and care and therefore it is regarded as a magic botanical potion. Sesame oil is used as a laxative, emollient and demulcent. It has been successfully used in the treatments of backache, tinnitus, blurry vision, migranes, vertigo or dizziness, chronic constipation, haemorrhoids, dysentery, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, receding gums, tooth decay, hair loss, weak bones, osteoporosis, emaciation, dry cough, blood in urine, weak knee and stiff joints. It has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Because of its easily assimilated calcium content, it nourishes the blood, calms nervous spasms and alleviates headaches, dizziness and numbness caused by deficient blood. It is a tonic, particularly for the aged. Oil of sesame will help burns, boils, ulcers and sunburn and remove freckles and age spots. Owing to such innumerable benefits, the oil is used as the base for several Ayurvedic preparations. However, it is poorly documented in modern scientific literature.
Sesame oil is a preferred vehicle for fat-soluble substances because of its high stability. It is employed in the preparation of liniments, ointments and plasters. In India, it is extensively used for conditioning the skin (Weiss, 1983). Sesame oil is considered anti-cholesterol and highly beneficial for heart ailments. The oil also reduces stress hormones and strengthens the immune system. It reduces anxiety, depression and pain. It also helps control sugar levels and therefore, its use is beneficial for people with diabetes. In olden days, sesame seed oil was administered for snake bites. Sesame oil is used in the preparation of iodinol and brominol, which are employed for external, internal or subcutaneous use.
The infusion of leaves in hot boiling water is used as a gargle for the treatment of inflamed membranes of the mouth. The leaves, which abound in gummy matter when mixed with water, form a rich, bland mucilage used in infantile cha, diarrhoea, dysentery, catarrh and bladder troubles, acute cystitis and strangury. Crusted leaves of sesame are considered beneficial in the treatment of dandruff. A decoction made from the leaves and root is used as a hair wash which is said to prevent premature greying of hair and promote their growth.
A decoction of the root is used in various traditions to treat coughs and asthma.
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