Poppy Seeds (Khus Khus)
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.
The centre of origin of Poppy is the Western Mediterranean region of Europe and is cultivated in India, Russia, Egypt, Yugoslavia, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, China, Japan, Argentina, Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Portugal for its legal pharmaceutical use. It is also grown illegally for the narcotic trade in Burma, Thailand and Laos (Golden Triangle) and Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran (Golden Crescent).
Poppy is cultivated in temperate and sub-tropical region and requires well drained, highly fertile, light black cotton soil having good percentage of fine sand. In India it is a licensed crop since the latex of the mature fruit are collected for the production of opium, a narcotic substance.
Poppy seed (Khas Khas) is used as food and as a source of fatty oil. It is widely used for culinary purposes. Because of its highly nutritive nature it is used in breads, cakes, cookies, pastries, curries, sweets and confectionary. Its seeds are demulcent and are used against constipation. The capsules are used as a sedative against irritant coughing and sleeplessness in the form of syrup or extract.