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Sesame is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum, also called benne. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. Sesame and ingredients are widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods. World production in 2018 was 6 million metric tons (5,900,000 long tons; 6,600,000 short tons), with Sudan, Myanmar, and India as the largest producers.

Sesame seed is one of the oldest oilseed crops known, domesticated well over 3,000 years ago. Sesamum has many other species, most being wild and native to sub-Saharan Africa. indicum, the cultivated type, originated in India. It tolerates drought conditions well, growing where other crops fail. Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. With a rich, nutty flavor, it is a common ingredient in cuisines around the world. Like other foods, it can trigger allergic reactions in some people.

White sesame seeds are the most commonly used variety. Usually hulled, they have a delicate, nutty flavour and are used in a variety of recipes, both sweet and savoury. They are often toasted before use, to bring out the flavour.