Sesame Seeds – The Sesamum orientale plant has been cultivated for its seeds for at least three thousand years. The small seeds range in colour from ivory to red, brown, pale gold, and black, and are used in the West primarily as a topping for baked goods. In India, Asia, and the Middle East they are often used to add flavour and texture to seafood, chicken, noodle, and vegetable dishes. They are the primary ingredient is such sweets as Middle Eastern halvah and Indian til laddoos. Whole, raw seeds are ground into the paste tahini which is used to make hummus, baba ghanoush, and many traditional Middle Easter dishes. Asian sesame oil, used widely in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean primarily as a seasoning rather than a cooking oil because of its low smoke point, is made from toasted seeds and provides a distinctive, nutty flavour. Because of their high oil content sesame seeds tend to go rancid quickly, so buy them in small quantities, store them in an airtight container in the freezer, and toast them as needed.