Erect, annual plant (Sesamum indicum) of numerous types and varieties in the family Pedaliaceae. It has been cultivated since antiquity for its seeds, which are used as food and flavouring and yield a prized oil. The hulled seeds, creamy or pearly white and tiny, have a mild, nutlike aroma and taste. The whole seed is used extensively in the cuisines of the Middle East and Asia. Sesame oil, noted for its stability and its resistance to becoming rancid, is used as a salad or cooking oil, in shortening and margarine, in the manufacture of soaps, pharmaceuticals, and lubricants, and as an ingredient in cosmetics.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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