Native to East Mediterranean and Central Asia, poppy seeds are derived from an ancient plant, which is in the form of capsules. As the flowers of the plant start fading away, the capsules are cut off and dried to collect the mature seeds inside.
Poppy is a plant rich in protein and fat. The seeds, which come out of the capsules, are tiny and quite hard. They are used as a spice in various dishes, especially in pastries.
Poppy seeds have a nutty and sweet aroma. It doesn’t offer you much of a taste in the raw form. Nevertheless, after being roasted, its flavor becomes stronger and is reminiscent of almond.
It works very well with pastries, cakes, bread, scones and muffins. It can be crushed into a paste with honey or sugar, wrapped in filo pastry and cooked for a very delicious dessert.
It brings a nice flavor to many desserts. It can be added into semolina halva or revani (semolina cake soaked in syrup) to create a crunchy effect and a nice taste in the mouth.
You can also sprinkle roasted poppy seeds over salads and soups.
It is not very easy to grind raw poppy seeds. In order to facilitate the process of grinding, toast the poppy seeds in a dry pan. You can now grind them in a spice grinder or pulse them in a food processor until coarsely ground. Keep them in air-tight containers so that it can preserve its aroma for a longer period of time. If you need to keep it for a couple of months, preserve it in the refrigerator.
You can also use poppy seeds as a thickening agent for sauces. If you want to use it for this purpose, first of all, you need to soak your poppy seeds in water for a couple of hours. After that, mix it with the sauce by using a blender. Put the mixture in a saucepan and bring it to a boil by constantly stirring. You will have a consistent sauce with a nice, nutty flavor.
Instead of sesame or nigella, you can sprinkle poppy seeds over boreks (filled pastries) you prepare with filo or puff pastry. With its pleasantly crispy texture, poppy seeds will make all your pastries much tastier and enjoyable.
Poppy seeds combined with lemon or orange zest and juice make a very nice ingredient for cakes.
Mix ground poppy seeds with butter, milk, sugar, lemon and orange zest, vanilla, cinnamon, almonds, walnuts and chocolate for a delicious filling to use in sweet pastries.
Poppy seeds make a good sauce for pasta as well. All you need for a delicious pasta sauce is to pulse poppy seeds with some lemon zest, garlic and walnuts in a food processor. Add the mixture into boiled and drained pasta together with some butter.