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Poppy seeds are found in poppy heads. Poppy seed is the dried seed of Papaver somniferum, an erect annual herb, 30-150 cm long with 0.5-1.5 cm thick stem. Stem is glabrous with thick waxy coating. Leaves are numerous, alternate, spreading horizontally, 15-25 cm long. Flowers are few, solitary, on a 10-15 cm long peduncle. Fruit is a capsule with waxy coating. Seeds are numerous, very small, white grey with an oily endosperm. Poppy is a self pollinated plant. The seed is the spice. Poppy Seeds have a slightly nutty aroma and taste. It is a tonic spice for various ailments.
Roasted poppy seeds
To roast the poppy seeds, place them in a small non-stick pan, over medium-high heat and stir constantly until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool. Roasted Poppy seeds are used to garnish breads and rolls, ground in sauces and pastry fillings, and added to vegetables and salad dressings. Turkish cuisine uses roasted poppy seeds alot.
How to Select
Soaked poppy seeds
Clean the seeds properly and remove any kind of stone. Soak poppy seeds in warm water or milk for 2 hours. Drain and leave on kitchen towel to roughly dry - they don't have to be perfect. The soaked seeds are often used alone or grounded with other spices to thicken the gravy or curries.
Poppy seeds vary greatly in appearance. Choose tiny and light but the Indian variety are ivory to beige colour. Though different varieties are also available the European variety called Maw is dark grey while Turkish variety is tobacco-brown. Culinary Uses
" Poppy seed is used as food and as a source of fatty oil.
" It is widely used for culinary purposes.
" Poppy Seeds are a classic addition to buttered egg noodles, fruit salad dressings, and fragrant yeast breads.
" Poppy Seeds add nutty flavor and texture to breads, cakes, cookies, pastries, curries, sweets, confectionary, pastry crusts, and pancake and waffle batters.
" Indian cookery uses only the cream coloured seeds as the grey ones affect the colour of the final product.
" They are soaked and ground to form thick gravies which are further added to vegetable preparations.
" Poppy seeds are cooked with jaggery and coconut, enveloped in a case of flaky pastry and deep fried to make a delicious sweet called karanji.
" They look best when sprinkled over naan bread and cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor. How to Store
It is always best to store them in an air tight container in a cool place. Avoid moisture contact.Health Benefits
" Poppy seeds are effective in quenching thirst, fevers, inflammation and irritation of stomach.
" Milk extracted from poppy seeds known as Opium, when taken with honey cures Insomnia.
" They are good pain relievers - best taken for rheumatism. It soothes both muscular and neuralgic pains.
" Opium is very effective in spasms of bowels, relieving of pain and irritation of the bladder caused by stone.
" Poppy seeds ground to paste with lime juice are beneficial when rubbed on areas affected by dry itch.
" OPIUM can cause great harm if used without proper precautions or if one is allergic to it. It should be not given to infants, children, pregnant lady and people suffering from kidney diseases.