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P For Poppy Seeds - The Nutty Savor

When I was researching about a spice starting from P, I stumbled upon a movie. Posto. A 2017 Bengali drama that hit the cord of audiences very aptly. A seven-year-old Posto lives with his grandparents since both his parents are the working ambitious individuals. Posto cannot imagine a day without his grandparents. But one fine day, Posto's parents got an offer to settle abroad. However, taking it up meant Posto would have to leave his grandparents. Unwilling to let go of their grandson, the grandparents even go to court to gain the custody of the little boy.

I have not seen the movie but after reading its reviews, I am really keen to watch this sensitive flick. Posto is actually a Bengali name of spice Poppy Seed. As Bengalis love Posto, this name is often used as a nickname for boys. With this plot, today's spice is Posto aka Poppy Seeds.

P For Poppy Seeds
P For Poppy Seeds - Vibhu & Me
Ever since my sister is living in Kolkata, I have been listening so much about the use of poppy seeds in cooking. Or, I should specifically call it Posto, the authentic Bengali name. The same poppy from which the dangerously poisonous and addictive opium is derived also produces the perfectly safe and flavorful seeds floating in our curries, muffins, and cakes. Nutty and pleasant in taste, poppy seeds are nutritious oilseeds used as a condiment in Indian cooking. It comes in different names; khus khus or posta dana in Hindi, kasa kasa in Tamil and posto in Bengali. Normally what we use in our kitchen are white poppy seeds. But they can be gray, black, and even a bit bluish. The poppy seed can be ground into a paste, and the white seeds can be ground to a flour and used as a thickener.

In Bengal, the white poppy seeds are much loved and used in plenty of preparations. It is ground and cooked with potatoes, cheese, ridge gourd and other vegetables. It is even consumed as a paste, with chopped onions, chilies, mustard oil and rice. In my family, Khus Khus is a preferred choice for making healthy snacks for a new mother. Poppy seeds do come with quite a bit of health benefits. And that's why every new mother is given Khus Khus Halwa, Laddoo and even Khus Khus barfi to eat. Other than this, to make any curry richer, we add the paste of Khus Khus and what we get is a delicious, nutty gravy.  In India, it is a licensed crop since the latex of the mature fruit is collected for the production of opium, a narcotic drug.

History of Poppy Seeds
Since ancient times, poppies have symbolized honor. Ancient Egyptians were aware of poppy seeds harvesting from the poppy fruit head. Through the Arab traders, opium cultivation spread to Persia, ancient Khorasan, and India. I tried to find the extract mentions of the use of poppy seeds in history. But found most of the mentions for poppy opium which is a narcotic.

Ayurvedic Benefits of Poppy Seeds
Poppy Seed is an important herb in Ayurveda to treat various health conditions. The Sanskrit name for poppy is Khaskhasaphala. It contains anti-oxidants, which solves quite a bit of health problems. The seeds are also a good source for thiamin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid. Rich with minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium, it brings many health benefits.

Now, the dried poppy seeds contain very small levels of opium alkaloids such as morphine and codeine. But when consumed, these compounds produce a minimal effect on the human nervous system. Many people claim that they feel sleepy after having a dish of poppy seeds. However, these chemicals also act as painkillers and are used in the making of medicines. That's why it is assumed great for relief from problems like rheumatism, gout, and arthritis.

Poppy seeds are beneficial for a good digestive system. A remedy of poppy seed powder mixed with ghee is often suggested for stomach ache in our country.  Since the seeds are rich in fatty acids, they can form a protective layer on the skin and prevent loss of moisture. So, it prevents dry itchy skin and even provides a glow on the skin.

Dadi Maa Ka Nuskha
People suffering from insomnia can have a tea mixed with poppy seeds. It helps sleep better and decrease the anxiety.

How to buy
Fresh whole or ground poppy seeds can be readily available in the grocery stores. If you are buying the readymade paste, do check its manufacturing date.
(I am taking part in #BlogchatterA2Z and today’s letter is 'P'.)

You can read my other #BlogchatterA2Z posts here :
  1. A For Alkanet Root - A Magical Spice
  2. B For Black Salt - A Digestive Stimulant
  3. C For Cinnamon - God of Spices
  4. D for Dried Ginger - A More Beneficial Form of Ginger
  5. E For Edible Silver and Gold Foils
  6. F For Fennel Seeds - More Than A Mouth Freshener
  7. G for Green Cardamom - The Queen of Spices
  8. H For Holy Basil - The King of Herb
  9. I For Indian Gooseberry - A Super food
  10. J For Jaggery - A Medicinal Sugar
  11. K For Kalpasi - An Unknown Treasure 
  12. L For Long Pepper - An Underrated Spice
  13. M For Mace - The Cousin of Nutmeg 
  14. N For Nutmeg - The Pricey Spice
  15. O For Onion Seeds - The Flavor Master
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  1. Another excellently researched article, Shipra. We do use Kasakasa but mainly to enhance the flavour of dishes. Never knew it was poppy seeds though. I have a bit of backlog in your series. I'll catch up with it soon.

  2. unfortunately we are not allowed to carry this to sg. i love the use of this.


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