Signing Off for 2007

I came a across a very nice correspondence in the Bhaktivedanta Archives, in a collection of all the letters written by my guru, Srila Prabhupada.

This is my last post for the year. Wishing you all a wonderful 2008.

Srila Prabhupada, early days:

My Dear Ann Clifford,

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated July 25, 1969, and I have noted the contents carefully. I am pleased to learn that you have become interested in Krishna Consciousness through living at the Krishna House in Montreal and associating with the devotees there. Your return address is not at this Krishna House, and I hope that you are attending the Kirtanas which are held at the temple on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

The chanting of Hare Krishna Mantra will clear away all of the difficulties that you have mentioned. Actually, as pure spirit soul, there is no difficulty; the cause of all problems is that we are forgetful of the fact that we are part and parcel of Krishna, and we are trying to enjoy the material nature through these material bodies. But the laws of material nature are so stringent that in spite of all attempts for enjoyment, the living entity in the material world must always come to the platform of suffering.

This chanting of the Hare Krishna Mantra is especially recommended for chanting in this age of Kali yuga so that any sincere soul who takes to it will very soon regain his memory of being the transcendental loving servitor of the Lord, or Krishna.

Regarding your question about why we do not eat meat and yet we eat plant
life, the answer is that we do everything as Krishna recommends. Everything
we eat is first offered to Lord Krishna, and because Krishna does not eat
meat, therefore we also do not eat meat.

The fruits, grains, and vegetables which we offer to the Lord are not caused any suffering by our offering them to Krishna. Rather they are greatly benefited because to be offered for the pleasure of the Lord will grant for the living entity within the plant body certain liberation in the near future.

Everything that we do in Krishna Consciousness is ultimately beneficial to all living creatures because we are working under the recommendations of the Lord Himself who is the well-wisher of all His part and parcel children. I hope this will sufficiently clear up this matter for you.

I hope this will meet you in good health.

A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami


2 August 1969

Last Tango in Western Australia

Saturday was spent in Perth’s fashionable suburb of Floreat, at the home of Heidi and Darren. Heidi had invited a group of friends and relatives to attend a cookery class/lunch, and I was to be the facilitator.

lunch with heidi:

This was our menu:

Indian Regional Curries

Moghul Spicy Rice with Saffron (Pullao)

Bengali Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

Simple & Sublime Gujarati Pumpkin

Mixed Vegetables in Creamy Gujarati-style Karhi Sauce

Grilled Fresh Panir Cheese with Spinach and Cream (Palak Panir)

Puffed Flaky Fried Breads (Poories)

Pineapple Kosumalli

Creamy Cardamom-infused Condensed Yogurt Dessert

with Pistachios & Saffron Syrup (Shrikhand)

palak panir:

I tried out a new recipe, Pineapple Kosumalli. Basically this was a pineapple salad, folded with mint leaves and fresh coriander, a little salt and lime, and dressed with a fried seasoning of oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and green chilies. It was a winner!

cutting pineapple:

It’s the peak of pineapple season in Australia, and there are some very sweet specimens appearing at the markets. We showed the crew the special spiral-cut technique that removes all the eyes of the pinepple and also makes a decorative design when the fruit is opened.

greens:

The fresh spinach and panir cheese cooked in a homemade spice paste and folded with double cream, Palak Panir, was a success as usual. Western Australia’s sweet and butter-soft Ord River chickpeas, the best I have ever tasted, formed the basis of our Bengali Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry.

steamed chickpeas:

Talking of Western Australia, yesterday also marked the date of what might well be my last class in Western Australia. I have new plans afoot, but there is time separating my disclosing them. I think it was the sage Chanakya who recommended that a gentleman not disclose his agenda before it is executed, lest it be spoiled.

shrikand:

I’ll let you know what’s going on in the next couple of weeks.

The SEARCH Box Rules!

Rickie Chang from Singapore wrote me this morning asking about Baharat. He or she (sorry, not sure) told me how hard it was to track down. I explained that it’s better to make your own anyway.

I knew I had answered a query like this before, so I keyed in the word and clicked on the SEARCH box on the top right of my blog home page, and sure enough, here’s an earlier post that says it all. No need to re-invent the wheel:

baharat:

Francesca Ferraro wrote:
“I wish to make my own baharat blend. I believe it is made up of pepper,
cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, paprika and nutmeg. Do you
use equal quantities of all the ingredients? Your help would be very much
appreciated. Thanking you in anticipation.”

My reply:

‘Baharat’ is the Arabic word for ‘spice’, (based on the word ‘bahar’ meaning pepper). It is sort of an Arabic garam masala if you like, an all-round hot-sweet spice mix. Here’s my favourite homemade baharat spice, plus a few others. I tend to make small amounts. Fresh is best.

Kurma’s Baharat Spice Blend

2 level teaspoons whole black peppercorns

2 level teaspoons whole cumin seeds

2 level teaspoons whole coriander seeds

1 piece cinnamon stick half the length of your top little finger joint

3 whole cardamom pods

4 whole cloves

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

Dry roast the first 6 spices over low heat in a heavy frying pan until they become slightly darker and aromatic.

Grind them in a mortar or electric spice grinder.

Combine with the nutmeg and paprika and store in a sealed jar. Makes about 3 tablespoons.

Syrian style Baharat

2 teaspoon ground allspice

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1½ teaspoon ground cloves

Gulf States Baharat

4 teaspoons ground red pepper

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground noomi basra (dried lemon or lime)

Tunisian style Baharat

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Levant style Baharat

1/4 cup ground black peppercorns

1/4 cup ground allspice berries

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and Breadmaking

PB from Bangalore, India wrote me today:
Hare Krishna! I wanted to ask… is it necessary to add oil or salt while making
atta flour dough for chapatis? My husband has read that we should avoid using salt & oil while making it. Why do we add salt to the dough & is it required?”

the magic chapati:

My reply: It is a matter of personal taste whether you add oil or salt in chapatis. Salt improves the flavour of the breads, there is no doubt. It accentuates the natural sweetness of the grain, even. Saltless bread is very bland. And the salt also improves the dough texture due to chemical changes with the gluten.*

Oil or ghee inside the chapati dough makes the breads softer and more tender. I prefer to leave out any oil or ghee, and spread the hot chapati with a little ghee after cooking.

(*When salt is added to a dough, some of the negatively-charged chlorine ions will bond with the positively-charged sites on the gluten protein, neutralizing the overall charge. With the repulsive forces eliminated, the web will tighten, compact, and bond with itself more strongly. A more bonded, compact gluten web can better withstand the force exerted by the swelling air bubbles in an actively fermenting dough, and thus will expand more slowly).

And for those who thought that adding/not adding salt in bread was an insignificant choice, think again. Read this interesting article.

'Dhoodh, Where's my Recipe?'

recipe:

Sankarsan from Sofia, Bulgaria writes:

“Dear Kurma I have a question. I have opened a restaurant in Sofia, Bulgaria. Your books are guide for me…One costumer asked me if I know how to make a
‘dhoodh’. I never heard this before. In Yamuna’s cook book I saw that this
means milk. Do you know anything about it? How to prepare, some recipes,
some details?

My reply:

My response to people who ask me such questions is: ‘Tell me more details of the recipe you are referring to.’ Put the responsibility back on them to explain. Get them to describe to you what they are talking about.

Dhoodh is the Hindi name for milk, yes. Maybe they are confused and thinking of something else, like dhoodh pak, for instance (a sweet made with milk).

If they actually do just want a recipe for hot milk (garam dhoodh), tell them all the different things you can add, like cardamom, saffron, turmeric, nutmeg, sliced pistachios, almonds etc, plus, of course, a little sugar. Hope this helps.

Far Out, Mung Bean Sprout

Tommaso from Verona, Italy writes: “I recently tasted a nice salad of mung bean sprouts and potato on my trip to North India. It was healthy and very tasty. Can you send me a recipe?

sprouted mung:

My reply:

Hello! Yes, sprouted mung are indeed very healthy! I love to make my own. You won’t get them as long as the ones you buy at Asian markets, but short-tailed homemade sprouts like the ones pictured above are bursting with juicy succulence and crisp nutrition. How’s that for a mouthful!

You can sprinkle them in salad, eat them straight with a sprinkle of sea salt or Indian black salt and a squeeze of lime juice, or cook with them.

Here’s a delicious favourite recipe of mine that includes sprouts.

Delhi-style Sprouted Mung Bean Salad

Known as moong ki chat, this very popular salad is eaten as a
road-side snack in India, especially in Delhi. The chili, lemon, and tongue-tingling spice combination chat masala give it a pleasant bite. Home sprouted mung beans taste best. Serves six.

1 medium potato

1 small green chili, minced fine

1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped fine

250g (9 ounces) sprouted mung beans, about 1¾ cups

Fifty Five, Not Out

In life’s big cricket match, today I’m 55, not out.

Yes I know, there has been a bit of silly mid-on; and although I have been caught-out more than once, I’m confident of reaching the next Boxing Day Test.

cricket:

My partnership average has been poor, and with all those sticky wickets, I’ve almost been bowled out on a number of occasions.

Fortunately there’s more than one innings, so my batting average might get me through. Hopefully, when I reach Life’s Final Test Match, I won’t be stumped.

Howzat!

Santa Coke

santa coke:

Aaaargh! Christmas is upon us again.

Have you ever wondered where the enduring image of the ruddy-cheeked, jolly, chubby, white-bearded and red-jacketed Santa Claus comes from? Ancient pagan tradition? Medieval Europe? Try the Coca-Cola company, in one of it’s most successful advertising campaigns. Read more…