Sesame seeds are derived from an unremarkable plant of the Sesamum genus and bears the scientific name of Sesamum indicum. Sesame seeds are considered the oldest oildseed crop in the world, and have been intentionally cultivated for more than 3,500 years. Evidence of their native forms are both in Africa and in India, places where they are still widely cultivated. It is extremely resilient, and grows in places where many other crops fail, which is why it was so heavily relied on throughout the ages.
The seeds themselves are very small, only 3-4 mm long and 2 mm wide, yet 3.85 million metric tonnes are produced every year! The seeds comes in a wide variety of colors, depending on the variety or strain of the sesame plant. The seeds can be purchased either shelled or unshelled. They are commonly added to salads, as an ingredient or topping for bread and grain products, crackers, sushi, cakes, soups, breading for fish and meat, and a wide variety of other applications. You can find sesame seeds in almost every cultural cuisine in some way. This wide spread is due to its availability, health benefits, and pleasant flavor.