Khas khas or Poppy seeds is also called as Posta dana in UP and Posto in Bengal. Khas khas ka halwa or Posta dana ka halwa used to be a much loved halwa in my growing up years. I had been planning for this recipe of khas khas halwa to be shared on Banaras ka Khana for ever but somehow I could not take pictures whenever I made it.
And then I made it in such huge amounts that I was feeling guilty for not sharing khas khas ka halwa recipe on my blog. Last month I curated a Banaras ka Khana festival at The Oberoi Gurgaon and a 37 course Banarasi meal was served at their all day dining restaurant Three Sixty One for 9 days. We cooked a lot of Banaras recipes from this blog but whenever I had to tell the Chefs at the hotel about the recipe of khas khas ka halwa which is very simple incidentally, I felt guilty I haven't yet shared it on the blog.
We actually cooked poppy seeds halwa several times during the Banaras ka Khana festival at The Oberoi Gurgaon. Each time the quantity would be about 5 kilos as we would start with 2 kilo dry poppy seeds that will be made into a fine paste using a huge stone grinder that the Oberoi kitchen has. I cooked it myself most of the times but Chef Santosh did a fabulous job with it too. I wish I had the recipe on the blog as I used to show the pictures for reference for other recipes like Besan ki Katli, Turai pyaz ki subzi, Matar ka Nimona, Khoya Matar Makhana ki subzi and Hare chane ki burfi, Kamlagatte ka halwa etc.
While cooking the khas khas ka halwa several times in the hotel kitchen I resolved to post the recipe first thing on Banaras ka Khana blog after my return, and here it is. The recipe is simple as most Banaras recipes are.
Khas khas ka halwa recipe uses only 3 ingredients, that is ghee, poppy seeds and sugar. We don't add any milk or nuts or even cardamom because we love the natural flavor of khas khas so much we don't want to mask it with anything.
(for 6-10 servings depending on how much you love poppy seeds halwa)
200 gm poppy seeds
60 gm ghee (or 2 level tbsp)
100 gm sugar
Do not soak the poppy seeds for this recipe. Soaking works if you plan to grind the poppy seeds on silbatta (flat stone mortar and pestle) but if you are planning to grind and make a paste in a mixie jar it is better to grind it dry for a few seconds and then add little water to make a fine paste.
Grind the poppy seeds dry till it starts making a loose lump, then add about 100 ml water and make a fine milky paste.
Heat the ghee in a large thick base kadhai and pour the poppy paste in it.
The paste starts coagulating at the bottom, keep scraping and stirring while you bhuno the poppy paste for about 10 minutes on medium low flame. The paste keeps getting thicker and changes colour and finally looks like a scramble.
Note that the poppy paste doesn't need to be browned. It just needs to change colour a little but it should still be moist.
Add the sugar and stir slowly to dissolve the sugar. After about 5 minutes of cooking the sugar dissolves and the halwa becomes homogeneous. It is ready to be served.
Serve this poppy seeds halwa a little warm, sprinkled with chopped pistachio. You actually don't need any garnish for this khas khas ka halwa trust me.
It looks a lot like sooji ka halwa but the similarity ends there. The aroma and the taste is so unique that it arrests your senses with its mild sweetness and robust nutty taste.
Some people add milk or khoya to the khas khas ka halwa but that dilutes the taste of khas khas in it. This is the family recipe of mine and we have made it like this forever.
Some people say poppy seeds halwa makes you sleep better and swear by it but it has never made me sleep. You can find out for yourself if you want to test the sleep inducing quality of poppy seeds.
In fact my maternal grandfather's family was into poppy farming during British times and they used to supply the alkaloid from the plant to the largest Opium factory in the world at Ghazipur which is a part of Banaras Division. Poppy seeds were a by product of the crop and were much prized for the nutty taste and richness they provided to the currys, halwas and even chutneys. Poppy seeds were used extensively in Thandai, Mithais, curries and some deep fried snacks like gulgule, malpua, anarsa etc.
This khas khas ka halwa remains my all time favourite poppy seeds recipe. Of course I like the poppy seeds chutney too and that is another recipe that needs to be shared here on the blog. Some recipes are so simple and commonplace we don't really value them enough. Each summer I make loads of poppy seeds chutney and yet it is not here on the blog. Just like this poppy seeds halwa that was more of a winter staple back home.