The sesame seeds we use in the kitchen is the seed of a herb like plant, that is called… you guessed it… the sesame plant! Back in the day this plant was already grown in Africa because of the oil that was harvested from the seeds.
Sesame seeds are being sold in their peeled and unpeeled state and you have a white and a black variant. People that have been to the sesame seed university tell me that there is a difference in taste but I haven’t really been able to detect the difference.
Sesame seed gives a lot of dishes that specific Arabic flavor. This is because in the Arabian kitchen a lot of tahin or tahini is used, the paste where ground and roasted sesameseed is the main ingredient. Think about hummus to give an example. Especially roasted sesame seed has a strong nutty flavor and is therefor used a lot as a tasty sprinkle in sweet dishes, cookies and breads.
In the Asian kitchen the taste of sesame is usually coming from the sesame-oil, but also in this kitchen you see a lot of use of the seeds. Examples: tuna rolled in a bit of sesame seed, a fresh salad or noodles with a sprinkling of sesame.
Sesame seeds are best when roasted briefly in a dry frying pan.