Himalayan Balsam Seed Curry Recipe

The transportation of seeds or whole plants is an offence under the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 in England and Wales and Section 14AA of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in Scotland. This means that no seeds or plants should be removed from the site where they currently grow, and sowing seeds or planting elsewhere either deliberately or accidentally would be a particularly serious offence. – Curtis Wright (phone: 07920 516559. email: curtis.wright@apha.gov.uk)

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) has been eaten in India for hundreds of years. I first came across the reference in Sir George Watt’s six volume ‘A Dictionary of Economic Products of India’ 1889-1896. In it he mentions that the seeds are eaten, having a nutty flavour.

In this recipe, my friend Chris Holland from Wholeland, is going to be showing you how to make a spontaneous Himalyan Balsam seed curry using leftovers in his kitchen.

This recipe serves 2 adults and 1 nine year old child.

Step 1

Go out and forage for Himalayan Balsam seed. Harvest as much as you think you need for a curry.

The pods burst at the slightest touch, to the squeals of young children, who find this plant an amazing toy while out walking. Mind you, I find it fun to burst the pods and I’m 44!

Step 2

Depending on how dried the seeds are their colour will vary from a milky, soft white, right through to a dark black.

Chris and I have both found that you can eat the seed at any stage of their colouration. Try and remove as much of the green seed pod as you can. But don’t obsess over it, as you can see from the photo above, there is still quite a bit left in the seeds after Chris had cleaned them.

Step 3

Take 1 onion and slice it up.

Step 4

Now add a few glugs of olive oil.

Step 5

Add the onion and fry gently until translucent and soft.

Step 6

Take 1 swede and cut into small cubes about 1/2 inches square.

Step 7

Now this is where Chris “cheated”. You need to add some curry paste, and the best curry pastes I find are  Pataks. Chris used the Balti curry paste for this recipe.

Step 8

Add 2 tablespoons of your chosen curry paste, and mix in and fry with the onion for 1 minute or so.

Step 9

Now add your Himalayan Balsam seed…

Step 10

… and stir in.

Step 11

Next mix in your cubed swede.

Step 12

Add hot water until it just covers the contents of your saucepan.

Step 13

Now slice up a couple of sticks of celery.

Step 14

Add the celery to your curry along with a small chunk of creamed coconut. The more creamed coconut you add, the thicker your curry will be.

Step 15

Take 1 or 2 tomatoes and chop.

Step 16

Thinly slice 1 red pepper, and then chop into small pieces.

Step 17

Add the pepper and tomato and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender. But cook for at least 15 minutes.

Step 18

Eat with white or brown basmati rice.


Chris’s son Mali looks on thinking his Dad is mad for eating such strange food. Especially as you won’t find Himalayan Balsam listed in any of the wild food books that are available.


  1. Hi I have a book with Himalayan balsam in which has a recipie for curry. It’s called the hedgerow handbook by Adele nozedar. Adele also recommends the leaves for salads and steamed stems served with butter and lemon juice like asparagus I know you know about it because it says the curry is your recipie.
    Kind regards.


    • Hi Sheila – I know Adele and know her book. However my recipe only uses the seeds. I do not recommend that you eat any other part of the plant. I have not found any references to other cultures eating any other part in my ethnobotanical research. There is a lot of confusion surrounding HB, and much of it comes from sloppy research. There are other plants in the Impatiens genus that are edible, but I can find no mention of HB at all. I own the books the others claim to have got their data from. I can’t find anything. I also trawled through India’s leading botanical research institute when I was last there… nothing, apart from the seeds being mentioned. And it comes from that continent, so one would think they would have recorded these other uses, if they had existed.

    • Derek – I’ve been obsessed with HB for over 10 years, even going to the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun when I was working in India in 2016. I trawled through their books and have only ever found mention of the seeds/pods being edible traditionally.

      My thinking on this one is that if it had other uses by the very people who have eaten it as part of their culture for donkey’s years, then it would have been recorded. That’s a sign right there to tread cautiously. And any claims on websites need to be backed up with ethnobotanical evidence. Something I have been guilty of in the past. I’m adding them as soon as time allows.

      Sure you might get away with eating HB leaves and shoots for a while. But what of the long-term consequences? Is there a build up over time in your internal organs of iffy substances?

      Personally, I’ve lived my life too close to the edge for too many years, so these days I am (possibly) over cautious.

  2. Hi Robin. Think I have come across your name before. But.. just wondered if you knew anything about the relationship between Himalayan Balsam and Honey Bees. (interestingly just noticed both have the same initials HB). I am a relatively ‘newish’ (4years) beekeeper and 2 years ago I thought my hives were being invaded by some strange bees. They were all flying in with an hourglass shape of white on their backs. I asked a friend and he said that they had been foraging on Himalayan Balsan and that the pollen was deposited on their backs. I wondered if you could confirm that this is the case that the pollen of the HB is on the underside of the top of the flower and leaves its mark on the back of bees. I live on the Wirral and nearby within bee foraging distance there is a very large wild life area and marshlands which is where I think the HB is. I am also so so grateful that I believe the council doesn’t spray this area.

  3. Pingback: Autumn’s Wild Food Forage – Celtic Witch Mama
  4. If you find some HB and go and stand by it on a sunny day when the Bees are out you will see the bees flying in and out of the HB flowers covered in pollen.It makes the bees look like a whole new species of bees.So a great source of nectar and pollen in the late summer and autumn for bees reserves to help hives over winter. Personally I think the war on so called invasive species is purely funded by the companies selling weed killer.[Follow the money]Nature left to its own devices will adapt and alter the ecosystem to accommodate.When I am pulling out blackberry plants by the roots I think it is hard to find a more tenacious and invasive plant and they were first introduced by the Romans to the uk.Ground elder the same ,Romans introduced it as a vegetable and a treatment for gout.So in short if we were to try and eradicate so called invasive species the whole world would be drenched in highly toxic weed killer ,which would then sink into the ground water and continue to cause cancer and birth defects eventually wiping out the ultimate invasive species the Humans.

  5. No wildlife trust or National Park use chemicals to remove Himalayan balsam. Pulling or cutting the plant is much more effective and Himalayan balsam grows in wet places and river banks so it would be irresponsible and undesirable to use any chemicals in these places. I am part of an invasive weeds project to remove Himalayan balsam from 2 catchment areas in the Peak District National Park. It is crowding out enchanter’s nightshade, hemp nettles and greater bird’s foot trefoils; plants I didn’t know existed until I started this project.

  6. Great to find this recipe and info! Thank you so much!
    Would you know if the seeds will keep in an airtight container for any length of time or in the freezer for the winter months? Cheers.

  7. Hi, love the recipe, just to be the kill joy of the party and warn folks that Himalayan Balsam is a Schedule 9 (of the Wildlife and Countryside Act) plant, meaning it is against the law to allow this plant to spread in the wild… so please do NOT encourage people to explode the pods! If collecting the seeds, be particularly careful in covering the whole plant and uprooting. If possible, get out and collect the flowers for the magical colour changing gin before it seeds… it really is taking over our waterways.

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