In the winters, I am sure your mother must have insisted on you to have til laddoo or til chikki. It’s because sesame seeds is a favorite winter food. In North India, on makar sakranti (14th January), people distribute revadi and gajakh (made of sesame seeds and jaggery), Gujaratis eat til chikki, Maharashtrians eat til laddoo and even say “Til gul ghya, gol gol bola” which roughly translates to “eat til and jaggery, and utter sweet words”.
Our traditions are so rich, it’s amazing how we lose touch with them, and start doing things mechanically, without thinking of the significance. Do we ever think why we have sesame seeds in winter?
Sesame seeds are warm in nature, and they increase heat in our body. Also, the natural oils in the seeds keep the body moisturized and prevents it from itching and peeling in the dry weather.
However, there are more benefits of including sesame seeds in your diet.
- Reduces blood pressure
- Prevents cancer
- Manages diabetes
- Improves digestion
- Boosts bone health
- Reduces inflammation in joints, bones and muscles
- Improves oral health. Sesame seed oil is recommended for oil pulling which leads to strong an antibacterial and astringent environment for oral health.
- Helps in anti ageing (people, are you reading this? It’s like a fountain of youth!)
- Promotes healthy and beautiful skin
There are various ways in which you can consume sesame seeds:
- Apart from using it for bakery items (breads, crackers, bagels, pretzels), sprinkling it on your salads and soups, you can make a paste or dip for your fish or meat.
- Mediterranean region uses sesame seeds. They make Tahini, which is used in hummus. Japanese roll their sushis in sesame.
- Use sesame seed oil in cooking. I use this oil for cooking Chinese and Thai food.
- You can make laddoos or chikkis using jaggery and ghee. My daughter loves these laddoos. She has one every day before going for swimming or gymnastics classes.
- One of my daughter’s friends is suffering from a very bad case of eczema. He has been advised not to have any dairy. So, his mother gives him calcium rich sesame seeds in his diet. She dry roasts these seeds lightly, grinds them in a mixer and keeps it in an airtight jar. She sprinkles a tsp of this powder in his yogurt, dal or roti.
For those who don’t know, there are black sesame seeds available too. They are slightly more bitter than the white ones. Soak them overnight, it makes it more digestible.
- I use black sesame seed oil in my hair.
- Gujaratis make a cake using black sesame seeds and jaggery. Though slightly bitter (it’s an acquired taste), you get used to the taste.
A word of advice though. Do not consume sesame seeds in excessive amount, and certainly not in the hot summer months.