According to Assyrian legend, when the gods met to create the world, they drank wine made from sesame seeds. Cultivated for millennia and highly resilient, the plants produce pods that burst open when mature to reveal their tiny golden seeds. This is where the phrase “open sesame” comes from.
These seeds have a high oil content and are considered an excellent source of copper and magnesium. They can be eaten raw, toasted and as a paste called tahini. They add crunch and a nice nutty flavour to sushi, salads, soups, noodles and rice dishes. They're commonly found in crackers and baked goods, such as the Middle Eastern dessert, halva.
They also make a wonderfully fragrant oil that is great in stir-fries and adds flavour when drizzled over savoury dishes or used in dressings.