Is Kurma Dasa Actually 'Asafetida Man'?

Franceen from Oklahoma City sent me a letter yesterday:

“Please tell me more about asafoetida?”


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

Asafetida Man:

It’s phenomenal just how many letters I receive about asafetida! It is definitely the most asked question I encounter.

Perhaps it’s true that mild-mannered Kurma Dasa actually doubles as Asafetida Man at night. Have you seen him in his tight-fitting yellow leotards, a large “A” emblazoned on his chest, tirelessly stocking grocery shelves around the world with little tubs of this pungent delicacy like a spice-wielding Santa?

Sunrise Meditations


Here in Perth, Western Australia, its very hot. The mercury has been climbing to close to 40 degrees Celcius every day for what seems like weeks.

My fifty-fourth birthday came and went this week, without much ado. As the years fly by, birthdays lose their thrill.

My new home faces East, apparently good from a Feng Shui and Vastu point of view. Every morning the blazing sun shines into my office window. I recall some verses, mundane and supra-mundane, about the sun and its relation to our lives.

Allow me to share them with you:

“And you run and you run to catch up with the sun,
but it’s sinking/
And racing around to come up behind you again./
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older/
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.”
– Pink Floyd

“With every rising and setting of the sun, a day passes and is lost. Why then do you remain idle and not serve the Lord of the heart?”
– Arunodaya-kirtana, songs to be sung at dawn, from Gitavali by Bhaktivinoda Thakur

“Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.”
– Srimad Bhagavatam

“The sun, full of infinite effulgence, is the king of all the planets and the image of the good soul. The sun is like the eye of the Supreme Lord. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, in pursuance of whose order the sun performs his journey, mounting the wheel of time.”

-Sri Brahma Samhita


Collard Greens:

I received a letter yesterday asking about ‘Collards’, pictured above.

Andrew from Prahran in Victoria asked:

“What are they? I found a nice recipe from Southern USA and wondered if I could replace them with other greens since I have not seen them in the shops here in Australia?”

My answer:

“Hi Andrew. Collards, also called collard greens, are various loose-leafed cultivars of the cabbage plant. The plant is grown for its large, dark-coloured, edible leaves and as a garden ornamental, mainly in Brazil, Portugal, the Southern United States, many parts of Africa, Montenegro, Spain and in Kashmir as well. They are classified in the same cultivar group as kale and spring greens, to which they are extremely similar genetically.

The Cultivar Group name Acephala (“without a head” in Greek) refers to the fact that this kind of cabbage does not have the usual close-knit core of leaves (“head”) of regular cabbage.

Collard leaves are rich in calcium, and as you have noted, are a staple of southern USA cuisine. They are often prepared with other similar green leaf vegetables, such as kale, turnip greens, spinach, and mustard leaves in “mixed greens”. So there is ample scope for replacement.

I also have not seen them commercially available in the shops in Australia, so I would say that silverbeet or in fact any green leafy vegetable would be very appropriate as a substitute. I would suggest spinach, silverbeet, turnip leaves, radish leaves, beetroot leaves, mustard greens, bok choy leaves, choy sum leaves, or kale if you can find it. These would all be suitable replacements, and you can easily just use a mixture of whatever is available.”

More on Turmeric

Peter from Germany asks:

“I would like to know if colour determines the quality of turmeric. Some people say that if the ground turmeric has rich orange color, it is good quality. Others say the opposite, pale colour reflects high quality.
Could you please reveal the truth.”

fresh turmeric:

My reply:

“Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is grown throughout Southeast Asia and varies immensely in it’s subtleties.

Thai turmeric is used fresh, and is often sweeter and more aromatic than that grown in India. In Thailand, the fresh turmeric is grated and added to curry dishes, soups, stir-fries, fried foods, snacks, and desserts; in eastern Indonesia it goes into stews and curries.

Dried turmeric is earthier and slightly bitter, with notes of mustard and horseradish, and if overused can have medicinal, powdery aftertaste.

In India, Turmeric has been valued for over four thousand years, where it is essential for many dishes, but is also used as a cosmetic, as a dye, in traditional remedies, and in religious ceremonies. It is used both fresh and dried.

There are two main types of Indian dried turmeric powder: Light yellow Madras turmeric is most commonly available and is used primarily for curries, pickles, and mustard; Alleppey turmeric is darker in colour due to a higher portion of curcumin (turmeric

Not Happy, Kurma!


I received this letter last night, from D.B. in Melbourne. She probably wouldn’t approve of me publishing her letter, but it’s been rendered anonymous:

I was shocked and disappointed with yesterday’s blog entry of Shakespearean Insults. I was under the impression you were a spiritually-minded man, but seeing this side of you has made me quite disappointed. I don’t think it’s very appropriate of you to publish this sort of scurrilous stuff on your blog.”

My response:

“Well, what to do? I find laughter very medicinal, and I laughed out loud with that list. I really don’t intend to use any of those insults against anyone. I just thought it was ok to have a laugh now and again. But being a bit of an artless, boil-brained gudgeon, I guess I miscalculated”.

Shakespearean Insult Kit

Next time that you are at a loss for a good insult, use this
handy table to construct a Shakespearean insult. Combine one
word from each of the three columns below.

Remember to preface it with the word “Thou”:

|Column 1______|Columm 2________|Column 3________|
| artless | base-court | apple-john |
| bawdy | bat-fowling | baggage |
| beslubbering | beef-witted | barnacle |
| bootless | beetle-headed | bladder |
| churlish | boil-brained | boar-pig |
| cockered | clapper-clawed | bugbear |
| clouted | clay-brained | bum-bailey |
| currish | crook-pated | clack-dish |
| dankish | dismal-dreaming| clotpole |
| dissembling | dizzy-eyed | coxcomb |
| droning | doghearted | codpiece |
| errant | dread-bolted | death-token |
| fawning | earth-vexing | dewberry |
| fobbing | elf-skinned | flap-dragon |
| froward | fat-kidneyed | flax-wench |
| frothy | fen-sucked | flirt-gill |
| gleeking | flap-mouthed | foot-licker |
| goatish | fly-bitten | fustilarian |
| gorbellied | folly-fallen | giglet |
| impertinent | fool-born | gudgeon |
| infectious | full-gorged | haggard |
| jarring | guts-griping | harpy |
| loggerheaded | half-faced | hedge-pig |
| lumpish | hasty-witted | horn-beast |
| mammering | hedge-born | hugger-mugger |
| mangled | hell-hated | joithead |
| mewling | idle-headed | lewdster |
| paunchy | ill-breeding | lout |
| pribbling | ill-nurtured | maggot-pie |
| puking | knotty-pated | malt-worm |
| puny | milk-livered | mammet |
| qualling | motley-minded | measle |
| rank | onion-eyed | minnow |
| reeky | plume-plucked | miscreant |
| roguish | pottle-deep | moldwarp |
| ruttish | pox-marked | mumble-news |
| saucy | reeling-ripe | nut-hook |
| spleeny | rough-hewn | pigeon-egg |
| spongy | rude-growing | pignut |
| surly | rump-fed | puttock |
| tottering | shard-borne | pumpion |
| unmuzzled | sheep-biting | ratsbane |
| vain | spur-galled | scut |
| venomed | swag-bellied | skainsmate |
| villainous | tardy-gaited | strumpet |
| warped | tickle-brained | varlet |
| wayward | toad-spotted | vassal |
| weedy | unchin-snouted | whey-face |
| yeasty | weather-bitten | wagtail |