“Idhayam Sesame oil… Magic password to a world of health and wellness”.
History records the cultivation of sesame as long ago as the Indus Valley Civilization. It was one of the first seeds which man used, and the chief oil crop of the time. Its antiquity is proved by the fact that the word for oil in many Indian languages is a derivation from the names for the sesame seed in different parts of the country. In the north, oil is called Tel, which has its roots in the Sanskrit Teila, meaning oil derived from the sesame seed.
In the south, sesame is known as ellu, and in Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam, ennai or enna mean oil, thought to be a telescoping of the words ellu and nei, or ghee.
Sesame oil was apparently one of the items of trade between the people of the Indus Valley and those of the Mesopotamian Civilization, around the year 2500 BCE. Records show that both ancient Acadians and Sumerians knew the sesame seed as ellu.
Coming much after the ancient Mesopotamians, there is evidence that around 600 BCE, the wealthy Assyrians used sesame oil not only for cooking, but also as an ingredient in ointments and other medications. They too had to import the oil, and it certainly wasn’t cheap.
Sesame forms part of legend and myth. The Assyrians believe that the Gods drank sesame wine before creating the world. In the much loved Arabian Nights’ tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the hero uses “Open Sesame” as a magic password to enter the cave of treasures. And in Hinduism, it is considered a symbol of immortality and is associated with Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu.
Today, sesame oil, also called gingelly oil or til oil, is valued the world over, not only as an ingredient that adds to the flavour and nutritional value of food, but also for its medicinal properties.