By Life Positive May 1996 Followers of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada used to gather at his New York City’s Lower East Side residence to hear him talk about bhakti yoga. They lingered on to share a meal with him. A lesser-known fact about the ISKCON founder: Prabhupada was an adept cook. He is said to have single-handedly prepared vegetarian dishes in his small, narrow kitchen. ISKCON member Kurma dasa, who works at Gopal’s Vegetarian Restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, is considered one of the Hare Krishna movement’s most celebrated chefs. In an endeavor to prove that there is variety in vegetarianism, he has written Great Vegetarian Dishes, a book that contains over 240 recipes from around the world. According to Vedic literature, cooking is one of the 64 major arts. To familiarize you with this art, here are a few recipes from Kurma dasa’s book. TAMARIND RICE This is a well-known and favorite rice dish among the Iyengars of South India who are followers of the Ramanuja Sampradaya. The recipe is over 1,000 years old and is traditionally called puliogre.Ingredients1½ cups basmati or any other long-grain white rice3 cups water1 walnut sized ball of seeded tamarind pulp½ cup hot water¼ tsp cumin seeds¼ tsp whole black peppercorns¼ tsp fenugreek seeds2 tbsp raw sesame seeds3 tbsp dried coconut2 tsp rasam powder1 tsp salt2 tbsp brown sugar2 tbsp peanut oil2 tbsp raw peanut halves1 tsp black mustard seeds8-10 small curry leavesMethodWash, drain and dry the rice. Boil 3 cups water in a heavy non-stick saucepan. Add the rice. Stir until the water returns to a boil; then reduce the heat to a simmer, put on a tight-fitting lid, and leave undisturbed for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is dry and tender. Remove the rice from the heat and set aside, covered. Meanwhile, combine the ball of seeded tamarind pulp with ½ cup hot water, squeeze until well mixed, and leave to soak. Dry-roast the cumin seeds, black peppercorns, fenugreek and sesame seeds in a small, heavy pan over moderately low heat. Stir constantly for about 3 minutes until the sesame seeds become aromatic and the spices darken a few shades. Remove from the pan, allow them to cool, and then grind them in a small coffee grinder or blender until they are powdered. Combine them with the dried coconut, mix well, and place them in a small bowl. Strain the tamarind pulp through a sieve. Squeeze and scrape the underside of the sieve, collecting the juice and discarding the pulp. Combine the tamarind juice, rasam powder, salt and sugar and simmer the mixture over moderate heat in a small saucepan until slightly thickened (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from the heat. Pour the ground spices, seeds, and coconut mixture into the tamarind syrup and mix well. Pour the peanut oil into the small pan in which you roasted the spices. Place over moderate heat; when the oil is hot, add the peanuts and stir-fry them until they are golden brown (about 2 minutes). Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Continue heating the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the seeds crackle, pour the contents of the pan into the tamarind syrup and mix well. When the rice is fully cooked, add the peanuts and spicy tamarind syrup and serve immediately. Serves four. NORTH INDIAN POTATO SALAD Ingredients8 medium potatoes, unpeeled1 tbsp fresh lemon juice1½ tsp salt2 tbsp yogurt3 tbsp sour cream½ tsp green chilies, seeded and minced1 tbsp safflower oil1 tsp black mustard seeds1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leavesLettuce leaves for decoration MethodBoil the potatoes whole in lightly salted water until soft. Peel and cut them into 1 inch cubes. While the potatoes are still warm, place them in a bowl and add the lemon juice, salt, yogurt, sour cream and chilies. Fry the mustard seeds in oil in a small pan over moderate hat until the seeds crackle. Toss the oil and mustard into the salad; add three-quarters of the mint leaves. Allow the salad to cool for half-an-hour. Serve it on a bed of lettuce leaves garnished with the remaining mint leaves. Serves six. SPLIT MUNG DAL (yellow lentil)When you combine dal (lentil) with a food that has a complementary protein (grains, seeds, nuts or milk products), the usable protein in the dal increases dramatically.Ingredients¾ cup split mung dal (without skin)6 cups water½ tsp turmeric1 tsp ground coriander2 tsps minced fresh ginger1 tsp fresh hot green chili, minced2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or oil1½ tsp cumin seeds¼ tsp yellow asafetida powder1 tsp salt2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or coriander MethodWash and drain the split mung dal. Place the lentil, water, turmeric, ground coriander, minced ginger and chilli in a heavy saucepan and, stirring occasionally, bring to a full boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderately low, cover with a lid, and boil for one hour or until the beans become soft. Heat the ghee or oil over moderate heat in a small pan. Sauté the cumin seeds in the hot oil until they turn brown; then add the asafetida powder and sauté for a brief while. Pour the seasonings into the dal. Add the salt and remove the dal from the heat, allowing the spices to soak for a few minutes. Add the minced fresh herbs and stir well. Serve hot. Serves four. SCRAMBLED CURDIngredients6 litres full cream milk7 tbsp lemon juice2 tbsp ghee or butter½ tsp yellow asafetida powder¼ tsp turmeric½ tsp sweet paprika1 tsp salt¼ tsp coarsely ground black pepper¾ cup cream or sour cream2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh coriander leaves1 tsp black salt, finely ground MethodBoil the milk in a saucepan, stirring constantly. When the foam rises, gradually add the lemon juice and reduce the heat to low. Stir very slowly until the solid curd cheese separates from the yellowish whey. (If separation does not occur after a minute, add a little more lemon juice.) Pour the curd and whey into a colander lined with a triple-thickness of cheese cloth. Press under a heavy weight for 10 to 15 minutes. Unwrap the curd cheese and break it into 1-inch chunks. Heat the ghee or butter in a large pan over moderate heat. Sauté the asafetida and turmeric in the hot ghee. Add the pieces of curd cheese and stir gently until the turmeric colored ghee is well-distributed. Increase the heat and add the paprika, salt and pepper. When the curd cheese is well mixed, remove from the heat. Add the cream or sour cream and the black salt, stirring carefully. Add the refresh herbs, mix well, and serve hot. Serves four-six. CELESTIAL BANANASIngredients185 gm soft spreadable cream cheese¼ cup brown sugar¾ tsp cinnamon powder4 tbsp unsalted butter4 large or 8 small ripe bananas, peeled and halved lengthwise3 tbsp pouring-consistency creamMethodBeat the cream cheese, sugar and ½ tsp of the cinnamon together until well-blended. Set aside. Heat the butter in a heavy frying pan and sauté the banana halves until they are lightly browned on both sides. Lay half of the banana halves in a buttered, shallow, fireproof serving dish. Spread half the cream cheese mixture on the bananas and top with the remaining banana halves. Spread them with the rest of the cream cheese mixture. Pour the cream over them. Bake in a preheated 1800°C /3550°F oven for about 15 minutes or until the cream cheese mixture is golden brown. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ tsp cinnamon and serve immediately. Serves four-six.
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