Dis Man Can Rap

Straiht Wikid Crew main man jason:

I just read the article below with interest on a website published by a dear friend of mine, Caru {not pictured above} who now lives in Spanish Fork, Utah (not far from Salt Lake City) with his good wife Vaibhavi. They designed, built and maintain this beautiful temple.


I visited them on their llama farm a number of years ago when I was interviewing for my book on the history of the Hare Krishna Movement in Australia. They even named a new-born llama Kurma in my honour (a thoroughbred, no less).

Caru and Vaibhavi were my earliest Hare Krishna mentors back in the good ole’ days in Sydney during the late sixties and early seventies when I was reaching the end of my school days and opening my senses to the dazzling world of spiritual reality.

Check out Caru’s website while you’re there.

Hare Krsna Rapper Releases New Album

April 26, 2006 (Muscatine, Iowa) – Straiht Wikid Crew,
a one-man project of Hare Krsna rapper Jason Fladlien {pictured above}
from Muscatine, IA, has released his debut album “Kali
Yuga Demolition Vol. 1”. The upbeat, catchy and fun
hip hop CD contains 11 tracks of the unexpected,
horribly delightful and unshakeable feel good music
that makes the listener feel, well…good.




Paul from UK asks, “Can you please tell me more about asafoetida or hing (as they call it in India) its properties, where it comes from, etc.”.

My reply: The ubiquitous asafetida, sometimes spelled asafoetida, finds itself in a great number of my recipes. What on earth is it? Read on…

Procrastinators of the World Unite!

My Margaret River Cooking Class went well the other day. Here’s the one-and-only photo I had time to take. It was the calm before the culinary storm, and our group of 20 local folks loved it. The photo is below.

I’ve been so busy preparing for my tour that time is short on the blogging front. Tomorrow I pack, and the day after I fly.

I was up bright and early this morning at 1.30am to complete the long awaited and slightly dreaded shopping list marathon. I have to do this for every tour, so I went to bed at 7.30 last night to get my minimum 6 hours sleep ready to face this task.

I have 16 sets of shopping lists, class notes and kitchen equipment lists to write and send out to all the 16 venues of my four-week teaching tour, and it is a very exacting job. Each cookery school and venue has a different requirement – a different menu, and a different type of kitchen; some are well-equipped, some are ill-equipped. Each class will have a different number of students – from 8 to 40; some are demonstration classes, some ‘hands-on’, some are daytime classes, some evening; some are held at cookery schools, some at private homes, and some at colleges and TAFE’s.

Margaret River:

The final fine-tuning has taken me a good part of 3 days, but when it’s done, it’s done, and then I can just pretty much just turn up at the venue to do my class. I like to get the hard stuff out the way before I fly off, then sail smoothly across the country, teaching all the while.

It’s generally not always my nature to do the hard bits first: I can procrastinate a bit, like we all can, and leave things to the last minute, but the hard work has to get done sometime, so it might as well be now.

I saw a tee-shirt the other day – “Procrastinators of the world unite – tomorrow!”.

There’s no time for that. Tomorrow is now.

Fry Me to the Moon

The ‘chippy night’, or more accurately ‘wedgie night’ (ouch!) has become a best kept secret (not any more) at my friend Trevor’s in Bayswater, Perth. I attended my last one recently, before I head off on my Long and Winding Road Tour that will take me across the country and across the planet.

Here’s some vision:

Trevor is serious about his wedge-making. Two industrial strength fryers adorn his stove top, poised to receive the potato motherload.

a tisket a tasket:

Only the best spuds are selected. These are the old Scottish pink-eyed Kestrels, purportedly Western Australia’s best chip-making spud.


The crispy, crunchy skins adorn the warm melty interior. Served with sour cream and chutney, is this potato heaven?


Wonderful Bitter Melon

A few days ago I was at my friend Trevor’s organic market garden down the street, admiring his handsome bitter melon vine that runs the full length of the street frontage. It’s very prolific, heavily foliated and green, with lovely yellow flowers, and replete with melons which hang invitingly under its sprawling leaves.


When I was living there a couple of years ago we had a bumper crop over summer of up to 10kg a day. A prolific and generous plant. And it self-seeds, as nature intended – the unpicked fruits that hide amidst the tangle of foliage ripen to a bright red and just sort of melt away, dropping to the ground and spilling their big, flat, jet black seeds for a guaranteed next-year crop.

sweet bitter melon:

Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia) is a member of the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family, and a relative of squash, watermelon, muskmelon, and cucumber.

There are different types of this healthy vegetable. Trevor grows what I can ascertain to be the Thai variety, pictured below.

bitter melon:

The one grown in India appears more slender and spiky, being saw-toothed like crocodile skin, with seeds that are small and tightly packed in the flesh, as pictured below next to it’s bigger cousin.

more bitter melon:

Here’s a link to a great bitter melon page with photos and nice Bengali recipes, by the way.

So it was timely that Madhava Ghosh from somewhere in West Virginia just wrote:

“My wife has type 2 diabetes and bitter melon is recommended to help
normalize glucose levels. Now, we just sautee it and have it as a side dish, unspiced. Are there any simple recipes you know to vary the way we eat it?”

Here’s a nice traditional way:

Fried Bitter Melon Chips (Karela Bhaji)

In the ancient Indian medical science, Ayurveda, bitter melons are well-known for their ability to cleanse the blood, aid digestion, help cure diabetes and encourage a failing appetite. Fried chips of bitter melon are well-loved in India, and are generally eaten in small appetiser quantities at the outset of a full lunch or dinner. To reduce their bitterness, the melons are rubbed in salt before cooking. You’ll find bitter melons in Asian and Indian food stores. Always look for small melons that are dark green in colour and heavy for their size.


COOKING TIME: 10 minutes

YIELD: enough for 4-6 persons

4 small or 2 medium-sized bitter melons, about 250g


1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons rice flour or 1 tablespoon rice flour and 1 tablespoon chickpea flour

Trim the ends off the bitter melons. Slice them in half lengthways, remove the seeds and then slice them lengthways into long strips, 0.5cm (1/4-inch) wide. Cut the strips into lengths about 3.75cm (1/1/2 inches). Alternatively, cut each half crosswise to yield semi-circular strips of melon.

Place the bitter melon pieces in a bowl, sprinkle liberally with salt and place a weight on them. Set them aside for at least half an hour.

Rinse the melon pieces under running water and drain them. Pat them with paper towels until they are almost dry.

Pour 5cm (2 inches) oil or ghee into a deep-frying vessel. Place the pan over moderate heat and bring to a temperature of 190 C/375 F.

Sprinkle the turmeric, cayenne and flour over the melon pieces and toss gently to coat. When the oil is hot, drop in a small handful of flour-coated melon chips. Fry them for about 2 1/2 minutes, or until crisp and golden.

Remove and drain them on paper towels. Fry the remaining bitter melon chips in batches. Serve hot, warm or room temperature. For extra crispness, I like to double-fry the melon chips: allow the cooked chips to cool, then fry again briefly in hot oil.

Big Night in Bunbury

Last night’s class at Aspenz cooking school in Western Australia’s City of Bunbury was a grand success.

mis-en-place time:

My gracious hostess Liz (right) and her associates (left to right) Heather, Kathy and Jess made it, as always, an upbeat, pleasurable and educational night.

The gang at Aspenz:

Here’s most of our twenty eager attendees, poised for their tasty night ahead.

ready and raring:

Our menu for the night:

The Healthy Feast – Beans, Grains & Legumes

Masoor Dal with vegetables served with Turkish Bread

Mauritian-style Dal Rissoles (Gateaux-Piments) served with Home-style Tomato Chutney

Punjabi Red Bean Curry (Rajma) served with Basmati Rice

Pakistani-style Creamy Vermicelli Dessert (Kheer Sevian)

Here’s the ingredients for our succulent dal dish. I explained that red lentils, or pink lentils, are very popular in India

Inycsiklando Vegetáriánus Etelek

You may be interested to know that my original cookbook, ‘Great Vegetarian Dishes’, first published in 1990, is enjoying it’s 7th print run and almost three-quarters of a millionth copy. It has been translated into a few languages, including Italian.

Here’s the latest addition. The definitive Hungarian edition, “Inycsiklando Vegetáriánus ételek.”

Great Vegetarian dishes, Hungarian Edition:

Palak Panir Dreaming

I travel by train today, down South of Western Australia to Bunbury, to teach a cooking class. Tomorrow I will bus to Margaret River for another session.

heading down south:

Bunbury isn’t on this map, but it’s between Perth and Margaret River. There are a few more places to visit in Western Australia than this map suggests, but compared to many states, it is very sparcely populated.

Last time I visited Margaret River, the response was overwhelming. Jan Osborn, one attendee, wrote after the class, “I loved your Margaret River class and have since made my own panir! Served my family an Indian feast on Saturday evening and though they all enjoyed it. For me it lacked the magic I tasted in your food, Kurma. After the class, I woke several times during the night dreaming of Palak Panir!! Divine.”

I’ll keep you posted on how the mini-tour goes. Let’s hope it leaves another lasting impression.