Poppy seeds are tiny round or kidney-shaped seeds that come from poppy plants. They are a type of spice which is used to impart an earthy flavour to food. The seeds are actually located inside large pods on the poppy plant. Each pods contain hundreds of poppy seeds.
Poppy seeds come in three colours, depending on where they are grown. Seeds grown in Europe are usually black or dark blue and those grown in India and the Middle East are predominantly white. Both these types of seeds have a very distinctive nutty flavour to them.
Contrary to popular belief, poppy seeds don’t have opiates in them. It is only the unripe flowers that contain opiate compounds; but once the flowers begin to seed, these compounds disappear.
Poppy seeds possess large quantities of magnesium, calcium and fibre, which make them extremely healthy to eat. They are extensively used in Indian cooking, where they are called “Khus Khus”. The poppy is the first ingredient to be added when cooking begins. Oil is heated in a pan or wok and the poppy seeds are added. Other ingredients are added only once the seeds splutter.
In addition to these, poppy seeds can be mixed into dough and can be made into bread and muffins.