Indian Eggplants and Bitter Gourds in Poppy Seed Sauce

Ayurvedic Recipes_Indian Eggplants and Bitter Gourds in Poppy Seed Sauce.jpg

Feeling adventurous? To make this week's recipe you'll need a little field trip to your nearest Indian grocery store. Even more adventurous, you'll be making something completely different from anything you've tried before. It's worth it for a delicious recipe that is nutritious and balances blood sugar--and what's more, it's gravy!

You can use any kind of eggplant (aubergine), but the most delicious are the small, sperical ones sold in Indian grocery stores. White poppy seeds are sold in Indian grocery stores. A recipe from Andhra Pradesh.

Serves: 4-6


  • 1 lb. purple eggplants, (Small Indian variety is best) washed and sliced

  • 1 lb bitter gourds

  • 2-4 tbsp. sunflower oil (more if needed)

  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds

  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds

  • 2 tsp. ginger garlic paste

  • 2 tsp. mild chili powder

  • 2 tsp. coriander powder

  • ½ tsp. roasted fenugreek powder

  • ½ tsp. roasted cumin powder

  • ½ cup white poppy seeds, roasted and ground to a paste in spice grinder

  • 1" ball of tamarind--soaked in hot water & pulp extracted.

  • 1 tsp ground jaggery (optional)

  • 3 cups water for gravy (more if needed)

  • Salt to taste


The basic idea is to brown the bitter gourds and eggplants, roast and grind the poppy seeds, cook the poppy seed paste in spiced water until it forms a thick gravy surrounding the veggies. It's delicious!

  1. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add 1tsp, salt and a pinch or two of turmeric. Drop in the bitter gourds and let them boil for about 5 minutes.

  2. Plunge in cold water, then slice and remove seeds.

  3. Add 1-2 tbsp. of oil in a cooking vessel, add the bitter gourd and cook for 20 minutes.

  4. Add the eggplant slices and roast them till brown on both sides. Just brown them, don't fully cook them at this point. Remove and keep aside.

  5. In the same vessel, add the remaining oil. Once hot, add mustard seeds and as they dance around, add the cumin seeds and allow to splutter. Add ginger garlic paste and sauté for 2-3 min.

  6. Add salt to taste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, roasted fenugreek powder and optional jaggery and combine well.

  7. Add 3 cups of water and cook for 3-4 minutes, until it comes to a boil. Add the roasted poppy seed paste and tamarind extract and cook on medium high for 3 minutes.

  8. Cover with lid and cook on medium low for 5 min, stirring to prevent sticking.

  9. Add the roasted bitter gourd and eggplant slices and cook on low to medium flame, stirring frequently, until the gravy thickens and the bitter gourd slices are thoroughly cooked. It could take up to 40 min to form a thick gravy. Ad more water as needed for a good gravy effect. Turn off heat and serve. Menu suggestion: serve with pongal.

Alakananda Ma M.B., B.S. (Lond.) is an Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.

Enliven your holistic health! Visit Alakananda Ma in Alandi Ashram’s ayurvedic clinic to support the overall rejuvenation of your body, mind, and spirit. In-person and virtual appointments available. Book now!