The phrase for 'Open Sesame' in India is Khulja Sim Sim. We even have a TV show by that name. I think it is a sort of "The Price is Right" kind of show. Opening the Doors to a consumer’s ultimate fantasy. Flat screen TV, sauna belt, rice cooker, mixie, music system with CD, DVD, and some designer clothes . How mundane compared to those glittering jewels and the oil lamp. Oh well.
Sim Sim is Persian for sesame though the seed is known as Til in Marathi, or Gingelly in English. I love sesame seeds in all things. Be it in a vegetable dish, sprinkled on salad or on top of bread. I am in good company there.
Sesame is recorded, in a list of spices, condiments and oils, in a cuneiform scroll found in the library at Nineveh, which was founded by King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (668-663 B.C) and is also known to have been used from the 4th Century B.C by Susruta the elder, a surgeon, as an antiseptic in a poultice made from leaves and seeds. It is also recorded as an herbal medicine by Susruta the second, in his mushkakadigana.
That wonderful and ancient legend of Gilgamesh, mentions Enkidu's diet as consisting of, among other interesting things, worms, figs, cucumbers, honey and bread made of sesame flour. People in the rural areas of Iraq continue to make the same bread, of barley flour, sesame flour and onions and mighty tasty it is too.
Though it's scientific name is sesamum indicum, I think the indicum part refers to Indonesia where it is indigenous, though India is one of the largest producers of sesame seeds. In the 1st Century A.D. it was exported from Sind and India via the Red Sea to Europe.
Ayurvedic treatment makes extensive use of the oil for massage. Being on a bit of a health binge the knowledge that sesame is good for so many things increases my use of it. All that calcium, phytosterol, magnesium, copper and zinc is the need of the hour ,what with the HBP.
So here is a nice way to get the best of sesame in a gluten free sweet but with the wickedness of frying. Out of this world with a scoop of vanilla icecream.
Sweet Sesame Bonda
1 1/2 cups til / sesame seed.
3/4 cup channa dal / Bengal gram
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2-cup rice flour
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup gur / jaggery
3 cups oil for deep-frying
Fry the sesame seeds and channa dal in 3 tbsp oil in a non stick pan.till just golden. Do not make it brown or the ladoo will taste burnt.
Remove from fire, cool and powder in a coffee grinder. It looks just like really thick peanut butter.
Put the gur in a pan and heat till melted and a little thickened. Remove from fire. Immediately add the channa dal and til powder to it and mix well.
Now form 1" balls /ladoos out of the mixture. Try and do this as fast as possible without burning your palms, or the mixture might dry out and harden.
Add enough water to make the rice flour into a paste of just pouring consistency.Not too thin nor too thick.
Heat oil in a deep pan or kadhai. Dip the ladoos into the rice paste and fry in the hot oil till golden brown.
Serve hot with cold icecream as a dessert.