In the Hindu religion, which seeds symbolize immortality?
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Not long ago, in Part I of the series, I shared some of the history and different ways sesame seeds are used in kitchens throughout the world. Here, in Part II, a bit more about these incredible little seeds and how they can help to keep us healthy.
For thousands of years, people have been enjoying sesame seeds. In fact, pictures of bakers sprinkling them on bread have been found carved onto walls of 4,000-year-old(!) Egyptian tombs. Sesame oil has also been used, especially in health and natural healing. During ancient times, it was often referred to as the “best of all oils” with whole-body massages recommended for purification and vitality.
These little seeds are so oily they even feel that way when rubbed between your fingers. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn they’re made up of forty to sixty percent oil, including lots of heart-healthy monosaturated fat (the same type found in olive oil)
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, they’re high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that supports the heart and prevents diseases such as cancer. They’re also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, and zinc.
Sesame seeds are rich in something called phytosterols (cholesterol-like compounds found in plants that block the absorption of dietary cholesterol). A diet containing phytosterols can lead to lower LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease. New research suggests that they may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Lastly, and certainly not least, sesame seeds are filled with lignans such as sesamin and sesamolin. Lignans are a special group of beneficial fibers that have been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects and prevent high blood pressure.
I shouldn’t come as a surprise that these tiny seeds can play a big role in the health of one’s circulatory system, reducing the possibility of heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke.
A series featuring sesame seeds just wouldn’t feel right without tahini. This sesame seed paste is a staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking and something we reach for often at our house. I couldn’t think of a better way to feature it than in a recipe we love
Loosely translated from Arabic, kibbeh means “the shape of a ball.” If one were preparing traditional kibbeh, ground meat, onions, and bugler would first be mixed to form a shell. The shell would then be stuffed with meat flavored with sweet spices and pine nuts, shaped into balls, and deep-fried.
This version (a fusion of Sephardic and Arabic flavors) the author’s contest, is unconventional. It’s akin to a layered savory cake that incorporates the kibosh’s essential elements and is baked instead of fried.
The sweet meat, cool layer of tahini, and hearty bugler base proved an excellent combination of textures and flavors. Simply put, the result was extraordinary.
ps: You can read more about sesame seeds in Part I of this short series
While there isn’t anything wrong with store-bought tahini, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you could try making some of your own
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~ Adapted from The Guardian
- 1 cup fine bulgur wheat
- 1 cup water
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 green chili, finely chopped
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 Tbsp cilantro, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 3 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp self-raising flour + a little extra if needed
- salt and black pepper
- Tahini Sauce
- 3 ½ Tbsp tahini
- 3 ½ Tbsp water
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp sumac
- Heat oven to 400° F
- Line an 8" springform pan with waxed paper.
- Put the bulgur in a bowl, and cover it with the water. Leave for half an hour.
- Meanwhile, heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the garlic, onion, and chili until soft, remove from the pan.
- Return the pan to the stove over high heat and add the lamb. Cook for five minutes, stirring, until brown.
- Return the onion mix to the pan, along with the spices, salt, pepper and most of the pine nuts and parsley (save some for the end). Cook for a couple of minutes, remove from the heat, taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Check the bulgur to see if all the water has been absorbed (strain if not). Add the flour, a tablespoon of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper and, with your hands, work into a pliable mixture that just holds together.
- Push firmly into the base of the tin so that it is compacted and level.
- Spread the lamb mix evenly on top and press down.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the meat browns further and is very hot.
- Whisk together the tahini sauce ingredients (you're after a very thick, yet pourable sauce) Remove the kibbeh from the oven, spread the sauce on top, sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley, and return to the oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes, until the tahini is just set and the pine nuts are golden.
- Remove and leave to cool down.
- Before serving, sprinkle with the sumac and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Remove the sides of the tin and carefully cut the kibbeh into slices