Adding Salt to Cooking Legumes

I was asked recently:

“I have heard that adding salt during the cooking process results in the
skins of mung beans to harden.”


Here’s the answer:

You are correct! This is the same with all dried beans, legumes, dals and pulses. Never add salt to the water while cooking them for that reason. They will take much longer to break down and become soft, and in some cases, like the heavy pulses such as chickpeas etc, they will never really get soft at all.

The same thing applies with adding anything salty such as tamari, soy sauce, miso etc AND anything sweet such as sugar, honey etc AND anything sour such as lemon, vinegar, tamarind, tomato etc.

All the above need adding AFTER the beans fully cook and reach the desired stage of softness or ‘broken-down-edness’.


VT from Penrith, NSW Australia asks:

“Could you please tell me if ghee can be used to spread on toast and sandwiches.”


My reply:

“It can indeed. It is, in fact, recommended by Ayurveda. However, it is not to my taste, since I like butter. But you can slowly distill spices in it by adding teaspoonfuls and heating the ghee ever so slowly for long periods on very low temperatures and infusing it with delightful flavours such as ginger, cumin, chili, etc. Or you can obtain some first-class ghee (or make your own) and just spread it, as you suggest.

For more on ghee…


Be warned. There is a new virus around. Symptoms:

1. Causes you to send the same e-mail twice.

2. Causes you to send a blank e-mail.

3. Causes you to send e-mail to the wrong person.

4. Causes you to send it back to the person who sent it to you.

5. Causes you to forget to attach the attachment.

6. Causes you to hit “SEND” before you’ve finished.

7. Causes you to hit “DELETE” instead of “SEND.”

It is called the “C-Nile Virus”

Tertiary and Further Education


Today I held a one-day cookery workshop at Perth’s West Coast College of TAFE, Subiaco Campus to a group of 15 very enthusiastic students.

West Coast Tafe:

Here’s what we cooked:

Fragrant South Indian Toor Dal Soup (Rasam) served with Steamed Thai Rice

Sweet Chili Panir Steaks with Sweet Potato Mash & Rocket Salad

BBQ Asparagus with Semi-dried Tomato & Macadamia Chutney

Israeli Chickpea Croquettes (Falafel)

Chickpea and Sesame Paste Dip (Hummus bi Tahina)

Greek-style Eggplant Casserole (Moussaka)

Creamy Cardamom-infused Condensed Yogurt Dessert with Pistachios and Saffron Syrup (Shrikhand)


Mike D’Angelo of Carlton, Victoria asks:

Kurma, do you have a good baklava recipe you could reveal?

My answer:

Yes! Here it is:


Turkish Nut Pastries in Syrup (Baklava)

Baklava is probably one of the best known of all Middle Eastern sweets. In this delightful version of Turkish origin, sheets of buttered wafer-thin filo pastry are layered with nuts and baked; then they’re soaked in a lemon and orange-blossom flavoured sugar and honey syrup.

Preparation & cooking time: about 1 hour 5 minutes

Baklava soaking time: overnight, or at least 2 hours

Makes: about 18 large pieces


450g (1 pound) filo pastry (about 30 sheets)

250g (9 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

250g (9 ounces) finely chopped walnuts (or almonds, pistachios, or a combination)

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

¼ cup sugar


1¼ cups sugar

1 cups water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ cup honey

1 tablespoon orange-blossom water (available at Middle Eastern grocers)

Butter a 28cm x 18cm (11-inch x 7-inch) tin. If necessary, cut the pastry the size of the tin.

Place one sheet of pastry on the bottom of the tin and butter it with a pastry brush. Repeat for half the pastry (about 15 sheets).

Combine the nuts, cinnamon, and sugar.

Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top layer of buttered filo pastry. Continue layering the remaining pastry on top of the nut mixture, again brushing each layer of pastry with melted butter. After the final layer of pastry is placed on top, brush it with butter.

Carefully cut the tray of pastry into diagonal diamond shapes with a sharp knife, cutting directly to the base.

Bake in a moderate oven 180°C/355°F for about 45 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden.

Combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a pan, stir over low heat to dissolve the sugar, and then boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the honey, stir to dissolve, and add the orange-blossom water.

Pour the hot syrup over the cooked baklava. Let set for at least 2 hours, or for best results leave overnight for the syrup to be fully absorbed.

Microwave Madness

Jayant from India asks:

“Are there any side effects of cooking the food with microwave?

My answer:

Yes! here are some:

microwave madness:

Microwave exposure causes significant decreases in the nutritive value of all foods researched.
The following are the most important findings:

1. A decrease in the bioavailability [capability of the body to utilize the nutriment] of all Vitamin C, Vitamin E, essential minerals and lipotropics in all foods;

2. A loss of 60-90% of the vital energy field content of B-complex vitamins, in tested foods;

3. A reduction in the metabolic behavior and integration process capability of alkaloids [organic nitrogen based elements], glucosides and galactosides, and nitrilosides;

4. A destruction of the nutritive value of nucleoproteins in meats;

5. A marked acceleration of structural disintegration in all foods.

Also it was found that microwave ovens caused:

6. Creation of a “binding effect” to radioactivity in the atmosphere, thus causing a marked increase in the amount of alpha and beta particle saturation in foods;

7. Creation of cancer causing agents within protein hydrolysate compounds* in milk and cereal grains [*these are natural proteins that are split into unnatural fragments by the addition of water];

8. Alteration of elemental food-substances, causing disorders in the digestive system by unstable catabolism* of foods subjected to microwaves [*the metabolic breakdown process];


9. Due to chemical alterations within food substances, malfunctions were observed within the lymphatic systems [absorbent vessels], causing a degeneration of the immune potentials of the body to protect against certain forms of neoplastics [abnormal growths of tissue];

10. Ingestion of microwaved foods caused a higher percentage of cancerous cells within the blood serum [cytomas – cell tumors such as sarcoma];

11. Microwave emissions caused alteration in the catabolic [metabolic breakdown] behavior of glucoside [hydrolyzed dextrose] and galactoside [oxidized alcohol] elements within frozen fruits when thawed in this manner;

12. Microwave emission caused alteration of the catabolic [metabolic breakdown] behavior of plant alkaloids [organic nitrogen based elements] when raw, cooked, or frozen vegetables were exposed for even extremely short durations;

13. Cancer causing free radicals [highly reactive incomplete molecules] were formed within certain trace mineral molecular formations in plant substances, and in particular, raw root-vegetables; and,

14. In a statistically high percentage of persons, microwaved foods caused stomach and intestinal cancerous growths, as well as a general degeneration of peripheral cellular tissues, with a gradual breakdown of the function of the digestive and excretive systems.

More good reasons to revert to good old home-style slow cooking in the way nature intended!

Message for a Suffering World

Have been reading about Bhismadeva, the amazing warrior/saint of India’s epic Mahabharata fame. Not only was he a righteous king and pure hearted devotee of God, but a sage whose teachings are profoundly applicable today as they were five thousand years ago. His amazing teachings were conveyed on his deathbed whilst his body was pierced by a host of arrows. As a powerful yogi, he decided the right time to die, and in the meantime, conveyed his crystal clear teachings.


Bhismadeva advised for all human beings nine qualifications:

1. Not to become angry

2. Not to lie

3. To equally distribute wealth

4. To forgive

5. To beget children only by one’s legitimate wife

6. To be pure in mind and hygienic in body

7. Not to be inimical toward anyone

8. To be simple

9. To support servants or subordinates.

Bhismadeva also advised:

To get freedom from anger, one should learn how to forgive.

To be free from unlawful desires one should not make plans.

By spiritual culture one is able to conquer sleep.

By tolerance only can one conquer desires and avarice.

Disturbances from various diseases can be avoided by regulated diets.

By self-control one can be free from false hopes.

Money can be saved by avoiding undesirable association.

By practice of yoga one can control hunger.

Worldliness can be avoided by culturing the knowledge of impermanence.

Dizziness can be conquered by rising up.

False arguments can be conquered by factual ascertainment.

Talkativeness can be avoided by gravity and silence.

By prowess one can avoid fearfulness.

Perfect knowledge can be obtained by self-cultivation.

These are described in the 18,000 verse Sanskrit epic called Srimad-Bhagavatam, in the First Canto, Chapter Nine.