Every time we've been out on the highway, about 50kms/31miles from Khartoum, we pass scenes such as above. People with a nomadic style home, a prayer mat, and a camel circling container in the center.
Last week, we stopped and I got out to chat to these gentlemen above.
I greeted the older man and he told me the young lad with him was his son. I asked if I could take photos of his home and the camel. He agreed. I asked him what he was grinding in the motar to which he replied "sim-sim". Sesame seeds? I was surprised. I thought he was grinding wheat for flour. No, he told me he was producing sesame seed oil. Then he showed me a pod with seeds in it and brought out the oil he'd already produced that morning.
A Sudanese gentleman and his son live in this nomadic - style tent. The camel sleeps behind the tent
The camel is attached to a pulley with the pestle grinding the sesame seed inside the motar
The camel is blindfolded so that it is not distracted from the job it is doing
Sesame seed which has been harvested and waiting to be ground
Sesame seed is the dried seed of Sesamum indicum. High in protein, the seeds are oval shaped and have a nutlike flavor when toasted. Sesame was native to Indonesia and eastern and Northern Africa. The ancient Babylonians used sesame seeds to make cakes, to flavor wine and brandy, and to provide oil for both cooking and perfuming purposes. By 1500 bc the Egyptians were using sesame oil as a medicine. The peoples of the Bible would have used sesame seeds in their cooking.
The indigenous peoples of Africa and Asia treat sesame seeds as a grain, but in Europe, Japan, and the Americas, sesame has entered the diet as cooking oil. In recent years sesame seeds have been used to flavor breads, crackers, and salad dressings.
In folklore, the magical password “Open Sesame” that unlocked the cave for Ali Baba in The Thousand and One Nights probably was a play on the fact that ripe sesame seed pods pop open loudly with a slight touch. Also, sesame seed was so common that “sesame” would not have been considered important enough to be used as a secret password.
The Sudanese farmer holds up the finished product
In modern Sudan, sesame seeds are ground with a pestle and mortar. Photographed (top) a camel, attached to the pestle which grinds the seeds, walks endlessly around the container/motar. Then the ground seed is placed on a stone, clay or gourd slab and kneaded by hand into a paste before extraction.
The pulp is added to water and boiled at a high temperature. The oil floats to the top, scooped off in a shallow dish and reheated to remove the last of the water. Half a kilogram of sesame seed produces 108ml of oil so it is a long and laborious process.
I was privileged to be able to photograph the camel (which is blindfolded to keep it on course), the two men and their home in the desert.
As this post is aired this morning, we will be travelling into the desert again. When we pass this man's camp, we will stop and give them prints of the photos which I took of them.
The Arabic for sesame oil is Zyt as-Smsm (zeet-a-simsim)
Source: Some Internet
Other: Mine own