The poppy seeds that are used in cooking either come from the Blue Poppy or the White Poppy. Whilst the seeds are very similar, the white poppy seeds are the ones that are used in Indian cuisine.
Poppy seeds have a nutty flavour that is at its best when the seeds are toasted. It only takes a few minutes of toasting to release the full flavour and sweet aroma.
The seeds are usually ground to a powder and used to thicken Indian curry sauces. Otherwise, the seeds can be sprinkled over dry vegetarian or meat dishes.
Poppy seeds are very hard and are tough to grind. You can even buy a special poppy seed grinder. If you are going to grind poppy seeds, don’t forget to toast them first to release the full flavour.
There are medicinal uses for poppy seeds including cough medicines and treating toothache and earache. The seeds themselves are used to stimulate the appetite. The dangerous derivatives such as heroin, morphine and codeine come from poppy pods and stems, not the seeds.