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, while the young leaves where used as a vegetable.
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.
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!
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.
Take 1 onion and slice it up.
Now add a few glugs of olive oil.
Add the onion and fry gently until translucent and soft.
Take 1 swede and cut into small cubes about 1/2 inches square.
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.
Add 2 tablespoons of your chosen curry paste, and mix in and fry with the onion for 1 minute or so.
Now add your Himalayan Balsam seed…
… and stir in.
Next mix in your cubed swede.
Add hot water until it just covers the contents of your saucepan.
Now slice up a couple of sticks of celery.
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.
Take 1 or 2 tomatoes and chop.
Thinly slice 1 red pepper, and then chop into small pieces.
Add the pepper and tomato and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender. But cook for at least 15 minutes.
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.
Robin Harford is a self-taught ethnobotanist, and has spent over a decade traveling, researching, recording and uncovering the traditional and contemporary use of wild plants in Britain and beyond. More recently his work has taken him to Africa, India, SE Asia and Europe. He is a co-director of Plants & Healers International, a non-profit that connects people, plants and healers around the world.