Poppy seeds Payasam

Poppy seeds payasam is a delicious and nutritious dessert popular in Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh. Earlier I had been using poppy seeds scantily as a thickening agent, so I could barely identify the flavor of these tiny seeds. But when I started using them in larger quantities while making desserts like payasam, the flavors became so conspicuous that it has a nutty flavor similar to sesame seeds and a mild sweetness similar to peanuts.

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Poppy seeds payasam

Poppy seeds (khus khus/ kasa kasa/ gasa gasa):

This observation kindled my curiosity to compare the nutrients of poppy seeds with sesame seeds & peanuts and the comparison table is shown below. It is needless to say that these unpopular poppy seeds are as nourishing as the most sought-after sesame seeds & peanuts.  Ayurveda also recommends to take poppy seeds payasam to treat insomnia.

poppyseeds-nutrients Poppy seeds Payasam
Poppy seeds nutrition data

Opium in poppy seeds:

Poppy seeds are harvested as a by-product of opium poppy cultivation for opium legally used by the pharmaceutical industry.  Basically poppy seeds contain very low level of opiates with negligible effects and hence completely safe to include them in our diet. But it is advised to avoid taking foods made of poppy seeds before undergoing medical exams usually required for immigration or for participating in international sports events, as a precautionary measure

IMG_5999 Poppy seeds Payasam
Poppy seeds

Poppy seeds payasam recipe:

Traditional poppy seeds payasam recipe calls for coconut, cow’s milk & sugar, but here I replaced them with moong dal, coconut milk and jaggery respectively to fortify this payasam with protein & iron. Now the recipe for khasa khasa payasam perfect for this festive season. You can also check out my other payasam recipes here.

Time taken: 15 min.

Yields: 750 ml

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Khus khus payasam


  1. 1/4 cup (50 g) of poppy seeds (khus khus)
  2. 1/8 cup (25 g) of green gram lentils (moong dal)
  3. 1/2 cup (100 g) of powdered jaggery
  4. 1/2 cup (100 ml) of coconut milk
  5. 1 tbsp of ghee
  6. 5 Nos. of almonds
  7. 1 No. of cardamom
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Kasa kasa payasam ingredients

Mise en Place:

  • First we need to toast poppy seeds in low flame until the nutty flavour is released.
  • Transfer to another bowl and allow them to cool down.
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Nicely dry roasted poppy seeds
  • Dry roast the lentils in the same pan and cook them until soft & mushy.
  • Keep aside until it reaches the room temperature.
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Cooked moong dal
  • Meanwhile fry the slivered almonds in ghee as shown below and keep aside.
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Ghee-roasted almonds
  • Blend the toasted poppy seeds, cooked lentils & cardamom into a smooth paste after adding 100 ml of water.
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Poppy seeds mixture

How to prepare poppy seeds payasam:

  • Now heat a sauce pan with poppy seeds paste and water (used to deglaze the mixer jar) in medium flame.
  • Stir in until you could notice the beautiful aroma of poppy seeds, it just took 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Now reduce the flame to low and add powdered jaggery into the pan.
  • Stir in until jaggery is dissolved.
  • Now pour coconut milk into the pan and stir to combine together.
  • Add fried almond slivers into the payasam and remove from heat.
  • Serve khus khus payasam warm or chilled.
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Poppy seeds payasam recipe

Tips & Tweaks:

  • It is tricky to handle poppy seeds paste, jaggery, and coconut milk, as this mixture may cause curdling. We should not leave poppy seeds paste to boil for a long time as it begins to curdle in just few minutes as shown below. So we need to keep stirring in low flame for a couple of minutes until the aroma is released. Next we can add jaggery and allow it to get melted away. Then add coconut milk, mix well and remove from flame immediately. The whole process should take place within 5 minutes.
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Curdled poppy seeds mixture
  • You can prepare this payasam even more faster by replacing cooked moong dal with fresh coconut meat.
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Poppy seeds & coconut
  • You may replace slivered almonds with cashew or coconut pieces and raisins.

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  1. There was a time when I visited my friends home during my college days and her mother handed me a tasty cup of khus khus paysam. I enjoyed it very much but clearly remember taking a good nap afterwards.
    The whole process seems simple and with your pictures, they seem effortless, Megala. That is what you do to cooking!

    1. Yes, poppy seeds payasam is good for naturally induced sleep. Thank you so much for your constant support and encouragement.

      1. It has been my pleasure, Megala. I am happy to tell you that yours is the only cookery site that I follow on this blog simply because you make cooking seem effortless and the fact that you do wonder with simple ingredients that resembles a lot of what my mother used to do. Keep going, Megala, will always be around to read, try and learn.

  2. It’s so tempting Megala. I never knew about the goodness of poppy seeds and it treats insomnia. Nutrients table is certainly helpful 🙂 I always loved the way you explain the detailed recipe with clear step by step picture. Thank for sharing.

  3. I’m so excited to find this recipe! I have a ton of poppy seeds and they’re so rarely used in most western recipes. If they are, it’s only the tiniest amount. I would love to finally use them up, and this sounds like a truly delicious way to do so!

  4. I always thought of poppy seeds as mostly a garnish for food. Now, after reading your blog I realize they are very healthy too. Thanks.

  5. I usually prepare this in a slightly different way…we call it as gasgase payasa..and loved your version too, looks SO SO SO delicious….??

  6. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe Megala. I have tasted this at a friend’s place as a kid and it tastes really awesome .It’s interesting to know the recipe is similar to the moongdal payasam that we make and it just need the addition of the toasted poppy seeds. Hope to try it sometime.You are absolutey right on a good night’s sleep after having this 🙂

    1. Yes, indeed it tastes like a paruppu pradhaman with beautiful nutty flavor. I’m sure you would like it. 🙂 Thank you.

  7. I have tried this once at a friends place, but your version seems different. Will have to ask that friend to try this one :-p Oh okay, no, if I can I will.

    1. Of course your amma’s recipe is an authentic preparation, but I did make changes according to my family’s liking. 🙂 Thanks so much.

    1. Most of the vegetarians in south India prefer to include lentils as much as possible while preparing spicy curries & desserts alike. Thanks a lot for reading this post.

  8. That was very interesting, Megala, to find the nutrition content of poppy seeds. I’ve always considered them to be like a garnish, without a lot of value! Live and learn, as the saying goes. 🙂
    This recipe looks delightful and so tempting.

    1. Yes, I just sprinkled them before, but this recipe made me to scoop these amazing seeds into the pan. 🙂 Thanks so much for your encouraging words.

  9. That looks fantastic. I’ve never really had enough poppy seeds to know what they taste like. I have only had them on top of a bagel. I like payasam so I’d love to try this.
    You’d just have to be careful when you eat this. Apparently even the number of poppy seeds on a simple bagel can be enough to make someone test positive for opiates if you have a drug test afterward. They don’t do drug tests for employment screening here in Canada but it’s very common in the US. (I think there must be some way to appeal the finding if it’s from eating the wrong breakfast or dessert though!)

    1. Yes, though it is being considered absolutely safe even to feed babies, it is better to avoid taking this payasam prior to undergoing such drugs tests. Thanks so much for the caution.

  10. WOW!!! This looks awesome….. In Bengal, we make a side dish called Posto with poppy seeds which goes v.well with steamed rice…… We also sprinkle these on some fried items and sweets…… But making payasam with poppy seeds is unique.

    1. Yes, I heard about potato posto that I would love to try. Can you please share an authentic recipe for this curry someday?

  11. Like the presentation, photos and explanation Megala. I use Poppy Seeds in Parsi Curry just like this method, except adding more curry spices. Payasam for dessert is so good. Will try making this one day.

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