The joyous festivals of Lohri and makar sankranti are here. These festivals with their agrarian roots signify the end of chilly winters and a move towards warmer, sunny days. It is a truly a happy time for all of us shivering in our blankets. Sesame seeds (til) are an integral part of these festivals as they are used to make special snacks during these festivals. The snacks made out of these seeds carry with them the lingering remembrance of our childhood festivities.
Food is an important part of Lohri and Makar Sankranti celebrations. Decades ago a typical Lohri day (celebrated essentially in Punjabi community) would start with children going from door to door asking for traditional sweets such as gajak, chikki, jaggery, popcorn, sesame seeds (til), rewari and peanuts.
Then as the night falls, people of the community sit around a holy bonfire and sing folk songs while enjoying Lohri-special snacks. Children toss their 'lohri' that they collected in the day, into the fire to pay homage to the fire God, Agni.
Makar Sankranti, a festival of north India also involves sesame seeds in a big way. In UP it is called khichdi sankranti and Uttarakhand as Uttrayni. During these festivals sesame seeds are used to fashion many different snacks and sweets. Sesame seeds are known to contain healthy fats that keep you warm and energised during the winter.
"I remember, as kids, we used to dine on til ke ladoo and gajak on the days around Makar Sankranti. They were all home made stuff and used to last for weeks. Taste and aroma of til is very subtle yet it remains with you all your life. Even today I have a weakness for til ke ladoo. I get them from sweet shops but they are not the same as the ones we had as kids," says Arvind Joshi, (55) a resident of sector 4, Dwarka.
Sesame seeds are small edible seeds that grow in pods on a plant called 'Sesamum indicum'. Seeds come in a variety of colors, such as white, black sesame and brown seeds, depending on the variety or breed of the
sesame plant. White sesame is used unpeeled, while brown and black sesame seeds are used with the peel.
White sesame is high in iron and is mostly used in food or in the form of oil. On the other hand, black sesame seeds are more delicious, have a strong aroma and are used in food as well as medicines. They contain 60%
more calcium than white sesame seeds.
Health benefits of sesame
Winter season brings along several gut-related issues like indigestion and acidity. This is where till comes to the rescue. As per experts, the oil found in the sesame seeds are known to lubricate your intestines,
while the fibre in it helps promote healthy digestion and smooth bowel movements.
Boost Skin Health
The oil in sesame seeds is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that are known to heal skin health and provide youthful skin. This further helps prevent our skin from drying during the winters.
Stabilizes your blood pressure
Sesame seeds are rich in magnesium that helps prevent hypertension. Polyunsaturated fats and the compound sesamin present in sesame oil are known to keep blood pressure levels in check.
Eating more polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats relative to saturated fat may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Sesame seeds contain 41% polyunsaturated fat, 39% monounsaturated fat and only 15% saturated fat.
Helps Fight Stress and Depression
Trying to cope with stress at work? Or is your personal luife giving you sleepless nights? Try sesame seeds. Sesame oil contains an amino acidknown as tyrosine, which is directly connected to serotonin activity.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which impacts our mood. An imbalance of it could lead to depression and stress. According to experts, consuming foods that help in the production of serotonin helps in feeling
positive, keeping chronic stress at bay. Sesame oil is a good example of that.
Use them in salads
Add a crunch to your veggie or fruit salads by throwing in some toasted sesame seeds. Pair them with fried garlic and steamed spinach to up the nutritional value of your meal. You can also use them instead of breadcrumbs on pan-fried chicken.
Add them in soups and ice creams
Give a twist to your regular soups and desserts like ice creams by sprinkling in some toasted sesame seeds. Be it lentil soup or tomato soup, sesame seeds are sure to complement both of them.
Til ka ladoo
We bet you won't be able to turn down these sweet treats! These winter treats help you keep warm in the cold days and protects you from the chills.
Now you know the benefits, Include Sesame seed (Til) in your daily diet.