On this last day of Deepavali 2020, I’m sharing a very special heirloom recipe with you all.
Sharing of food has been such an integral part of our culture and in our childhood, thanks to the wonderful friends of our parents we were exposed to different communities and the regional food they cooked.
Lakshmi aunty is my mother’s very dear friend and I have such fond memories of eating delicious food in her home, including this payasa. I remember she used to consecutively win the first prize at the local cookery competitions for her puliyogare (south Indian tamarind rice) and her ghasghase payasa.
Gasagase payasa or poppy seed kheer is what Kannadiga royalfare is made of. It is nourishing, satisfying and comforting at the same time. Old kannada movies used to show how this traditional dish was relished and induced a good afternoon nap after consuming it.
Lakshmi aunty is a cook par excellence and I had her gasagase payasa written down in my erstwhile blue diary. Since I had not made it for a decade, I wanted to reconfirm it with her and her daughter Divya kindly sent it to me again for me to verify the recipe and tally it with the one in my diary. I didn't want to leave any stone unturned in recreating this exquisite dish.
Health benefits of Poppy seeds
Indian or Asian poppy seeds are white in comparison to their bluish European counterparts.
Poppy seeds are known to bring down stress levels and calm down the nervous system. They cure insomnia by inducing a restful sleep. Poppy seeds are also very good for the female reproductive system and boost fertility. As they are rich in copper and calcium they are very good for bone health and the manganese content in them makes them good for the bones and in the treatment of diabetes. They are rich in potassium making them very good for kidney disorders like kidney stones and regular consumption prevents recurrence. The zinc and antioxidants present in these seeds make them very good for the eyes and for thyroid disorders. As they are rich in insoluble fiber, they are very good for the digestive system and help in treating constipation. In ancient medicine, these seeds have also been used to relieve pain. The nutrients in poppy seeds make them great for skin and hair health.
Each and every ingredient, used in traditional Indian cooking has so many benefits and I was amazed to see the miraculous benefits of poppy seeds when I researched about the same. And when food is prepared and eaten with joy, it only increases the benefits of all these potent ingredients.
I have seen many recipes with milk, but decided to stick to Lakshmi aunty’s recipe this time. This recipe is vegan and gluten free making it accessible to almost everyone who have dietary restrictions.
According to Ayurveda, kansa or bell metal has purifying and healing properties and therefore it is highly recommended to eat and drink your meals in kansa serveware. I served this payasam in these beautiful tumblers from Studio Coppre.
I loved the flavour of the roasted poppy seeds blended with the fragrance of the cardamom, saffron and nutmeg, the wholesomeness of the coconut and the smooth nutty aroma of the almonds and cashews in this delightful recipe. Do give it a try on a festive occasion or on a day when you are in the mood for a celebratory meal.
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Gasgase Payasa | Khus Khus Kheer| Poppyseed Payasam Recipe
100 gm (¾ th cup) white poppy seeds
1 tbsp raw rice
2 tbsp almonds
2 tbsp cashews
4 cardamom pods
100 gm (1 cup) fresh coconut
4 cups water*
a few strands of saffron
nutmeg, grated a pinch
220 gm (1 cup) jaggery powder
In a wok or heavy bottomed pan, put in the poppy seeds and rice and dry roast on low heat for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the poppy seeds turn golden brown. Make sure that the seeds don’t turn black as the seeds are very tiny. Transfer this into a separate bowl and allow to cool down.
Into the same pot put in the almonds and cashews and roast on low heat until the nuts are nicely roasted. Allow to cool.
In a blender put in the roasted poppy seeds, nuts and cardamom seeds and blend until finely powdered. Into this ground mixture, put in the fresh coconut and a cup of water and blend again. Use a little more water for grinding if required.
Transfer the contents from the blender into a heavy bottomed pan, add the remaining water, saffron and nutmeg and bring to a boil.
Turn off the heat and put in the jaggery powder. Stir well and mix nicely.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
- You can adjust the consistency of the payasa by adding more water for a thinner consistency. If you add more water, you can add a few extra spoons of jaggery to keep the sweetness intact.
Serves 4 to 6