On to the sesame street
With Makar Sankranti approaching, chefs talk about the benefits of and the best ways to use sesame seeds in dishes
Sesame seeds or til are a must during Makar Sankranti, they are mainly used for the purpose of worship and in the preparation of sweets, which are often exchanged along with the greeting , ‘Tilgul ghya, goad bola’. The humble crunchy seed is a native to India and available in abundance. Chef Vivek Swamy points out that sesame seeds are available all year round. “They are proved to have several amazing benefits, including sesame oil for oral health, a substitute for Vitamin E or Vitamin C to top it all, it helps with sleep disorders.”
According to chef Ajay Kumar, sesame seeds may be one of the oldest condiments known to man. The super seeds are packed with health boosting minerals.
Chef Sabyasachi Gorai says, “They are highly nutritional. Sesame seeds help in improving digestion as it has a lot of fibre content.”
COOKING IT UP
“Sesame seeds can be best relished hulled and slightly toasted. The purest form of sesame is always the bitter, but potent, sesame oil,” shares Swamy.
Chef Gautam Samel shares that the sesame is a must when it comes to Asian cuisine. “Sesame can be lightly tossed in a pan and used to make sesame and honey bars. It can even be used in oil, mainly in Chinese cuisine. Sesame oil and sesame paste is used a lot in Japanese food as well,” Samel adds.
The possibilities are endless, chef Ajay Chopra says “Toast them and sprinkle on top of your breakfast cereal, sesame seeds often mixed with jaggery, rewdi, gajak and laddoo are popular north Indian items during the winter.”
Popular dishes include sesame And honey bars, sesame ice cream, sesame rubbed soy sticks, tandoori aloo, fattoush with citrus lime and sesame tahini and warm lentil salad.
Gorai adds, “I have been closely working with sesame seeds since a decade now. I have created a lot of dishes using this beauty. My personal favourites are the black soya chaap, sesame crusted beef steaks and sesame prawns. In desserts, some of my preferred dishes are sesame cheesecake, sesame profiteroles and black sesame chocolate decadence.”
Chef Pinku Biswas, shares, “Some savoury dishes would be spinach and strawberry salad with sesame seeds, savoury sesame cookies, sesame seeds and cottage cheese bites. Sweet would be til papdi and til laddu.”