Goodbye Sunshine Coast, Hello Townsville

Yesterday’s class at the Dome House was a relaxed, pleasant affair.

the crew at the Dome House:

That was my last class on the Sunshine Coast.

Dome lunch:

Tropical Townsville was one of my favourite spots during my early-in-the-year tour, and I’m back here again.

Mike and Adaline Rohan run the very successful de Studi Kitchen Appliance Studio in Townsville’s Charters Towers Road, specialising in high quality cooking equipment.

My hosts have set up a unique luxury kitchen at the back of their store, running regular classes for Townsville food lovers.

I’m holding three classes here over the next three nights, starting Tuesday. There’s still a few vacancies. Here’s the menus:

The Global Vegetarian #1, Tuesday 14


Crystal Waters

Back in 1976, Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren developed permaculture, a philosophy of sustainable agriculture and culture, grounded in practical design principles. Their ideas have had a big impact on the world of sustainable agriculture, and the eco-village concept.

Yesterday we held a very successful afternoon and evening cookery class and dinner at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village in Queensland.

Crystal Waters night:

It was a big group – 25 in all. Here’s some of us feasting on the results of our afternoon’s labour, in the lovely home of our hosts Ken and Linda.

In a nutshell, the philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with nature rather than against it.

To find out more on the subject and to view a flash movie click here

A Night at New Farm

I’m writing this report in a wooden cabin, deep inside the Crystal Waters Permaculture Village in Canondale, Queensland.

The frogs are singing a chorus, and many weird and wonderful creatures are joining in the fun. There’s possums out there, lots of wallabies, crickets, and even a few koala scratching around.

The classes are coming thick and fast. Last night I taught and cooked for 12 at Valerie’s place in New Farm, a trendy Brisbane inner-city suburb.

We had a ball, as usual, and I was so immersed that I forgot to take photos.
It wasn’t until the girls were washing up with such soapy gusto that I remembered to whip out my Canon Power Shot and capture their sudsy enthusiasm.

washing up:

Tomorrow afternoon we’re holding a class here in The Village. Can’t wait.

Dinner at Lynette's

Ferocious storms lashed much of Queensland yesterday and last night, sending hail, torrential rain and strong winds.

The internet’s still down at the Hare Krishna Temple at Graceville, so I’ve taken to wandering the streets looking for a unsecured wireless connection. I’m only joking, but it did cross my mind. Actually I’m sending this daily report from a friend’s house around the corner where things are in order.

The cookery class and dinner at Lynette’s gorgeous house in the Brisbane suburb of Nundah went wonderfully well. The ebullient hostess made sure everything was in order in her custom-built kitchen. Things proceeded like clockwork.

Here’s our team rallying around Ben as the spice paste reduces.

doin' 'the spice paste':

I predicted we would eat around 9.00pm, and sure enough, as the clock struck nine we sat down to hot, Cashew-Studded South-Indian Steamed Semolina Breads
(Rawa Idlis) served with a magnificent Spicy Hot-and-Sour Toor-dal Soup (Sambar) and Fresh Coconut Chutney

The main course was Basmati Rice with Saffron, Peas & Fresh Coriander,
Creamed Spinach with Fresh Curd Cheese (Palak Panir), and Hearty Koftas in Tomato Sauce.

There wasn’t much room for dessert, but we managed to squeeze in a few
Succulent Milk Fudge Balls in Rose-scented Syrup (Gulab Jamuns) and sipped on dainty cups of Hot Spiced Tea (Masala Chai).

Dinner at Lynette's:

The storms subsided as the night went on. Back in Graceville, I looked out of my riverside window to see the last glimmers of a distant lightening storm flashing on the dark Queensland skyline. I crawled into bed just before midnight.

Northern Pastimes

The long and winding road leads me to Brisbane this morning. I’ll be staying in the very pleasant riverside suburb of Graceville, and conducting two evening classes on Wednesday and Thursday nights in Nundah and New Farm.

Then I’m off to the Sunshine Coast for another double-header cookery weekend in Maleny and Mount Coolum. If you want to locate that on the map above, those two places are near the Glasshouse Mountains/Maroochydore/Noosa region, above Brisbane. Note the scale of the map. Queensland is a very big state!

After that it’s way further North to tropical Townsville for a triple-header next week.

Keep your finger poised to hit that spinning globe!

A Pleasant Way to Spend a Sunday

Day at Fitzroy:

The class at the inner-city apartment of Steven and Johanna (right of picture) went very well. Their lovely kitchen was airy and bright, and the clever design meant everything was practically at arm’s reach.

Here’s our group just before lunch. We had proportionately more men in this class than I have ever had in a class before.

That’s Johanna’s Mum Pauline in the spotted apron, and Steven’s Mum Sue to Pauline’s left.

If you’d like a pleasant cookery experience at your home, click here.

yummy lunch with kurma:

Breakfast of Champions

I’m in Melbourne at present, still on tour. My abode is the wonderful Hare Krishna Temple in Albert Park, in one of the guest rooms. This is truly my spiritual home.

Melbourne  Hare Krishna Temple:

Breakfast this morning is khichari, along with other delicacies. If you are not familiar with this delightful dish, here’s some more information.

Anjali Mahendra writes:

“I came upon your nice web site while doing a Google search. One thing I cook up quite often when I’m tired, or just in the mood for simple, good food is khichari.

I agree with what you say on your web site about it being one of the most economical, simple, and nutritious meals to prepare. But I am used to making khichari with rice and dal only. The photo on your web site shows an interesting preparation with lots of veggies. Could you send me the recipe?”

My answer:

Well you know you can just add any vegies you like to khichari and it really shines. My favourites are peas, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, tomato, sweet potato spinach and my favourite, broccoli. Here it is:

eat yer vegies!:

Hearty One-pot Melange of Mung Beans, Rice & Vegetables (Khichari)

Khichari (pronounced “kitch-eri”) is such an important dish for vegetarians that I have included a different recipe for it in each of my cookbooks. The flavoursome, juicy stew of mung beans, rice and vegetables is both nutritious and sustaining. It can be served anytime a one-pot meal is required You can practically live on khichari, and in fact, some people do. I eat it accompanied by a little yogurt, some whole-wheat toast, lemon or lime wedges and topped with a drizzle of melted ghee. Bliss! Serves 4-6.

½ cup split mung beans, washed and drained

6 cups water

1 bay leaf

1.5cm (½-inch) chunk ginger, chopped fine

1 small green chili, seeded and chopped

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons coriander powder

1 cup Thai rice, or other long grain rice of your choice

1 packed cup each broccoli, potato cubes and quartered Brussels sprouts, or vegetables of your choice

2 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1½ teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons ghee or oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

small handful curry leaves

½ teaspoon yellow asafetida powder

½ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves

wedges of lemon, some chilled yogurt, and extra ghee for serving

Bring to a boil in a saucepan the mung beans, water, bay leaf, ginger, chili, turmeric and coriander, then reduce to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, for about 15 minutes, or until the beans start to break up.

Add the rice, vegetables, tomatoes and salt, increase the heat, and stirring, bring to a boil, then return to a simmer, covered. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10-15 minutes, or until the rice is soft.

Season: heat the ghee in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Sprinkle in the cumin seeds, fry until a few shades darker, and add the curry leaves – careful, they crackle. Sprinkle in the yellow asafetida powder, swirl the pan and empty the fried seasonings into the khichari. Stir the seasonings through, then return to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes or so, or until the rice is fully swollen and soft. If you desire a moist khichari, add a little boiling water now.

Serve: fold in the fresh coriander, and serve the khichari piping hot with a drizzle of warm ghee, and the accompaniments suggested above.