Ever figured out how you could craft your own native Indian delicacies, which are identical (or better) in taste to the ones you enjoyed in the restaurants? To be able to do that, you must first learn the fundamentals of preparing Indian food and be able to nurture the unique traditional ingredients. Indian delicacies are loved by many gourmets across the world, especially because apart from it being delightful, full of taste and being easy to prepare, it is also comparatively healthier than other cuisines of the world
One of the common ingredients of Indian cooking – which is especially popular among the Bengalis is “Posto” or the White Poppy seeds. Known as “Khas-Khas” in Hindi language, many types of dishes are cooked with the poppy seeds in Andhra cuisine, Oriya cuisine, and Malabar cuisine (Northern Kerala). The Bengalis have given this ingredient a diverse dimension within their kitchens and among Indian cuisine in general.
Poppy seeds are produced from opium poppy and harvested as an oilseed in India. The oil contains mostly linoleic and oleic fat. It is carrier oil because it’s clear, has a very little odor and has a satisfying flavor. There are 2 types of poppy seeds – black and white.
Origin and Distribution
Poppy originated from the Western Mediterranean region of Europe and is cultivated in Asian countries like India, China, Japan and European countries like Russia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Deutschland, Holland and Portugal for its legal and pharmaceutical uses. The opium poppy is also illegally used and cultivated as a drug in many countries. However in India it is a licensed crop as the mature fruit is collected for the production of opium.
Usage of poppy seeds
Poppy seed (Khas-Khas) is used as food and as a source of fatty oil. Because of its highly wholesome nature, the white as well as black poppy seeds are also used in many baked goods (muffins, biscuits, etc.) main course dishes and desserts (ice-creams). Their rich oil content (up to 50%), makes it possible to have added oils in the food items, while also giving a crunchy texture to the food.
Poppy seeds are highly nutritious and less-allergenic than many other seeds and nuts. They are a potential source of anti-cancer drugs. In Ayurveda, paste of Poppy seeds is used with milk and applied on skin as moisturizer. It is also used in certain cases for treating asthma, stomach illnesses and bad eyesight. The paste of poppy seeds have a light sweet taste and a little amount if taken with water, soothes the nerves, and helps to relax the body.
In Bengali Indian cuisine the white poppy-seed paste is cooked with potatoes and many other vegetables. It is also a much-preferred veg-curry with rice and lentil soup (daal). Many Bengalis from India and Bangladesh vouch that there’s hardly any better way to have a sumptuous meal than to have rice and lentil soup with any of the “posto-bata” (paste of poppy seeds) recipes like “alu-posto” (with potatoes), “pnyaj-posto” (with onions), “jhinge-posto” (with luffa) and the all-time favorite, the “chingri posto” (with prawn).
Other than the Indian cuisine, poppy seeds are also the preferred ingredient in some parts of European & Jewish cuisine as well.
So don’t just limit yourself with the regular ingredients, to prepare the next meal – especially an Indian meal! Just make a little amount of poppy seeds a part of your healthy kitchen.
To know more about the one of the many uses of poppy seeds in Indian cuisine, please watch this space for my next post.
- Mum’s Amazing Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- Marinated smoked salmon with poppy seeds
- Carrot Salad – Now with more poppy seeds!
- Lemon Poppy-Seed Cake Doughnuts