As a child I would be excited to find a sugary sweet poppy seed yeast snail in my school lunch bag. It was one of those treats, made with poppy seed paste, which one could barely resist and I would always finish mine with gusto. Every single time I would have a poppy seed piece of heaven, I would have small poppy seeds stuck in-between my teeth, which would be difficult to remove and because they were black it was always funny for the whole class to see my transparent braces full of tiny black dots.
At a certain point it became so embarrassing that I stopped asking my mum to pack poppy seed snails for my school break time. The black European poppy seeds were stubbornly decorating my smile, and this wasn’t good! So I ended up proclaiming my love for poppy seed snails in the dark and swallowed one by one in my comfortable home.
Back then I had no clue that white shaded poppy seeds existed. To be honest you will never be able to buy white poppy seeds in regular markets in Austria. Most probably white poppy seeds can be bought in specialized Asian stores in Europe, or so I believe…
Oh, how useful these white poppy seeds could have been, especially at the time when I was wearing braces. Nobody would have noticed the poppy seeds stuck in the braces.
In Asia, or to be more precise in India, one rarely comes across white poppy seeds. In fact I have been trying to find black poppy seeds and I was told by shop owners that black poppy seeds were not available in Goa.
If you live in India, have you been able to buy black poppy seeds?
Poppy seeds are not just common in Asia but all over the world. Former Austrian-Hungarian countries have a rich sweet poppy seed food tradition. In Austria Poppy seed pastes are popular and commonly used in sweet cakes etc. Nowadays people tend to buy the ready made paste version instead of making it at home and in fact just recently my friend sent me some black poppy seed paste from Germany (thank you Anja! <3).
With the commercial black poppy seed paste from Europe, I felt inspired to fiddle about. Since we only get the white poppy seeds here in Goa I decided to create a white poppy seed paste recipe from scratch. As you can see in the picture underneath, the black commercial poppy seed paste is more glossy. That’s because they add gelling agents to preserve better.
To make Poppy seed paste is actually quite easy and the paste can be used in all kinds of sweet cake desserts. I will be sharing a cookie recipe soon made with poppy seed paste but besides that you could also use the poppy seed paste in…
- yeast braids and poppy seed snails
- sweet Strudel
- different simple cake mixtures
- Torte layer
- Knödel (sweet dumplings)
- homemade sweet dessert noodles
To make the poppy seed filling takes about 10 minutes max. Basically, the poppy seeds are ground fine before being cooked with milk, sugar and other ingredients.
In India, poppy seeds (khuskhus in hindi) are frequently used to thicken savory and spicy curries. Before throwing the whole poppy seeds into a curry, the poppy seeds are dry roasted in a pan to allow the typical oily poppy seed flavors to emerge. The dry roasting of poppy seeds is rarely seen in Europe and I am not sure why because I think roasting the poppy seeds before using them in foods can only enhance the flavor of the dish.
So, I dry roasted one batch of white poppy seeds before grinding and turning them into a paste, and another batch of white poppy seeds was not dry roasted before the seeds were turned into a paste. The result: The flavor of the dry roasted poppy seed paste was more intense, so I suggest to dry roast white poppy seeds, however I am not sure if the same goes with the black poppy seed variation. We will have something to try my friends!
Oh and before I forget… The poppy seeds need to be freshly ground to turn them into a paste. That’s because poppy seeds are rich in oils and tend to get spoiled faster if left standing. Also, when poppy seeds are ground freshly they tend to be more intense in flavor.
- 100 grams Poppy Seeds
- 170 milliliter Milk
- 50 grams Sugar
- 20 grams Semolina
- pinch Salt
- ½ Tablespoon Vanilla sugar
- 1½ Tablespoon Rum
- First dry roast your poppy seeds over high heat, while shaking the pan, until you get a whiff of warm poppy seeds.
- Grind the poppy seeds thine.
- Add the poppy seeds to a non stick sauce pan and pour in ⅔ of the milk. Mix over slow heat and add all the other ingredients (sugar, semolina, salt, vanilla sugar, rum and the remaining milk) once the content starts to bubble.
- Continue to cook over low heat and keep on stirring until the content turns into a thick paste consistency.
- Let cool and further use for cookies and cakes.
According to me, black and white poppy seeds taste differently. The black poppy seeds from Europe tend to be more intense in flavor. It’s hard to explain but I kind of feel the black ones have a bit of a nutty after flavor compared to the white ones. Otherwise I don’t know if they are much different. It could be that the white poppy seeds are stronger in certain ways.
A few months ago, before traveling to Europe, I had planned taking white poppy seeds to Europe for my family to try, but the shop owners kept on telling me here in Goa that taking even the smallest quantities of white poppy seeds out of India was not allowed. So my question is: Are white poppy seeds stronger then black poppy seeds?