Not ‘Open Sesame’ - the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights, referring to the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity, this blog is about the actual seeds, tiny powerhouses of energy!
Sesame seeds are a source of manganese and copper, they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fibre. In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibres called lignans, which have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, also helping to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.
It is one of the oldest seeds known to man. Most of the wild species of the genus Sesamum are native to Africa. However, the sesame seed was first domesticated in India. There is archaeological evidence that it was cultivated at Harappa in the Indus Valley between 2250 and 1750 BC.
In Hindu mythology the God of death, Yama, blessed the sesame seed, so these tiny seeds are regarded throughout the East as symbols of immortality. Another myth says the seed was supposed to have originated when drops of sweat trickled from Vishnu and fell to earth. The seeds are symbolized as Vishnu's consort Lakshmi (goddess of prosperity). A Hindu festival celebrated on the day the sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn is called Makar Sankranti and lamps of sesame oil are lit in a temple to Lord Shiva, while devotees perform a rite for departed ancestors, by making an offering of sesame.
In an Assyrian legend, when the gods met to create the world, they drank wine made from sesame seeds. Women of ancient Babylon would eat halva, a mixture of honey and sesame seeds, to prolong youth and beauty.
While Roman soldiers ate the mixture of honey and sesame for strength and energy.
Magical properties –
Prosperity, protection, energy, strength, abundance, fertility.
Use the seeds in spell pouches, jars, bottles and poppets.
The seeds or oil to boost your intentions in recipes.
Sweet Halva Recipe
1 ½ cups tahini
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup water
½ cup shelled raw pistachios, chopped
Thinly coat a loaf pan with a non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the sugar and water to a simmer. Cook until sugar is completely dissolved, stirring with a spatula, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine tahini and vanilla extract in a heat-proof bowl.
Increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 250°F. Remove, and pour slowly into the bowl of tahini, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to incorporate, until halva turns glossy and clings together.
Add pistachios and stir to combine.
Pour into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. It’s easiest to slice halva while its cold but serve at room temperature.
Sources and further reading –
A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food by Rachel Patterson
Image from Unsplash