It's My Kitchen, I'll Karahi If I Want To


I’ve had two other requests similar to this one in the last week. It’s good to see my cookery DVD’s are out there and being seriously studied.

PK from Czech Republic writes:

“What kind of a wok you are using in your kitchen? I would like to buy
one, and I saw your video DVD cooking course and I like your wok. Can
you please recommend one?”

My reply:

I can’t exactly recall which wok I used on the DVD series. It was filmed in Los Angeles in 1988.

Now I use 4 varieties: For authentic Asian stir-frying over seriously hot flames I use a one-wooden-handled Asian steel round-bottomed wok.

I also use an Indian Karai (sometimes spelled karahi); it’s a bit thicker gauge than a wok, made of heavy black steel, round bottomed, with 2 large open ‘Mickey-Mouse ear’ handles. Mine is a Bengali version – deeper and constructed of thicker-gauged steel than the photo above – with rounder, chunkier handles. It’s practically indestructible, and I use it for deep-frying.

Thirdly, I use an electric wok for all my travelling cookery classes. It’s useful when space is limited and there are no gas flames available.

For most other wok cooking, I use a steel one-wooden-handled flat-bottomed Asian wok.

I trust this sheds some light. Oh, and apologies to Lesley Gore.

Wielki Ekstaza!

almost there:

Agnieszka from Poland wrote me today:

Hello Kurma, I heard from a friend that you visited our country last year to teach cookery. I am so sorry I missed the fun! When are you coming again?

My reply:

Possibly 2009. In the meantime, why not read the travel diary of my exciting trip to Poland’s Baltic Coast.

'The Most Delicious Cauliflower Curry'

Sarbani Basu of San Francisco, California writes:

“Once I had a cauliflower curry at a friend’s home. It was the
most delicious cauliflower curry I have ever had. Unfortunately she has not
been able to pass me the recipe, but told me that she got it from your book.
Would you please email me the recipe. I would really appreciate if you do. Just a hint if you have more than one recipe with cauliflower: this one had
tomato and potato, cumin and mustard seeds in it.”

My reply:
There are more than half a dozen cauliflower dishes in my books. Here’s the recipe you tasted, it’s from my first cookbook.

potato and cauliflower curry:

North Indian Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes

This is a popular North Indian vegetable dish. Combined with hot Puffed Fried Breads (Pooris) or rice, I could eat this any time of the day and on any occasion.

YIELD: enough for 4 – 5 persons

1/4 cup ghee or oil

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

2 hot green chilies, seeded and chopped

3 medium potatoes, cut into 1 1/4 cm (1/2-inch) cubes

1 medium cauliflower, cut into small flowerets

2 medium tomatoes blanched, peeled, and diced

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh coriander or parsley

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Heat the ghee or oil in a large, heavy saucepan over moderate heat. When the ghee is hot, add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the cumin and saute them until they darken a few shades. Add the ginger and chilies, saute for a few moments, and then add the potato and cauliflower pieces. Stir-fry the vegetables for 4 or 5 minutes or until the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomatoes, turmeric, garam masala, ground coriander, sugar, and salt.

Mix well, reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and, stirring occasionally, cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add water if necessary during this time but don’t over-stir the vegetables. When the vegetables are cooked, add the fresh coriander and the lemon juice. Serve hot.

My Sweet Lord

my sweet lord:

My Sweet Lord,
by George Harrison

My sweet lord

Hm, my lord

Hm, my lord

I really want to see you

Really want to be with you

Really want to see you lord

But it takes so long, my lord

My sweet lord

Hm, my lord

Hm, my lord

I really want to know you

Really want to go with you

Really want to show you lord

That it won’t take long, my lord (hallelujah)

My sweet lord (hallelujah)

Hm, my lord (hallelujah)

My sweet lord (hallelujah)

I really want to see you

Really want to see you

Really want to see you, lord

Really want to see you, lord

But it takes so long, my lord (hallelujah)

My sweet lord (hallelujah)

Hm, my lord (hallelujah)

My, my, my lord (hallelujah)

I really want to know you (hallelujah)

Really want to go with you (hallelujah)

Really want to show you lord (aaah)

That it won’t take long, my lord (hallelujah)

Hmm (hallelujah)

My sweet lord (hallelujah)

My, my, lord (hallelujah)

Hm, my lord (hare krishna)

My, my, my lord (hare krishna)

Oh hm, my sweet lord (krishna, krishna)

Oh-uuh-uh (hare hare)

Now, I really want to see you (hare rama)

Really want to be with you (hare rama)

Really want to see you lord (aaah)

But it takes so long, my lord (hallelujah)

Hm, my lord (hallelujah)

My, my, my lord (hare krishna)

My sweet lord (hare krishna)

My sweet lord (krishna krishna)

My lord (hare hare)

Hm, hm (Gurur Brahma)*

Hm, hm (Gurur Vishnu)

Hm, hm (Gurur Devo)

Hm, hm (Maheshwara)

My sweet lord (Parabrahma)

My, my, my lord (Tasmayi Shree)

My, my, my, my lord (Guruve Namah)

My sweet lord (Hare Rama)

(hare krishna)

My sweet lord (hare krishna)

My sweet lord (krishna krishna)

My lord (hare hare)


*Guru Brahma Gurur Vishnu

Guru Devo Maheshwaraha

Guru Saakshat Para Brahma

Tasmai Sree Gurave Namaha

(Guru is verily the representative of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He creates and sustains knowledge and destroys the weeds of ignorance. I offer my obeisances to such a Guru.)

Agnyaana Timiraandhasya

Gnyaana Anjana Shalaakayaa

Chakshuhu Unmeelitam Yena

Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha

(The Guru can save us from the pangs of ignorance (darkness) by applying to us the balm of knowledge of the Supreme, I offer my obeisances to such a Guru).

Carpe Diem

govindas 2: Govinda’s ‘Cooking with Kurma’ class, October 2007

Last night I attended a wonderful kirtan (chanting) session at the Sydney Govinda’s Restaurant’s downstairs ‘temple space’ in Darlinghurst. These sessions, as well as other events like yoga and philosophy, are regulars on the Govinda’s calendar.

Talking of regular events, places at my scheduled cookery classes at Govinda’s Sydney are filling fast. In fact, my Saturday May 10 class is totally booked out, and vacancies in my Saturday June 7 classes are going fast.

So for those who are thinking of coming but are waiting to book a spot, the motto is Carpe Diem – Seize the Day!

Actually ‘Carpe Diem’ is a phrase from a Latin poem by Horace. It is popularly translated as ‘seize the day’, although a more literal translation of carpe would be ‘harvest’ (‘harvest the day’), as in the harvesting of fruit.

The exact quote is ‘carpe diem quam minimum credula postero’ – ‘Seize the day, trusting little in the future.’

So if this stirs something inside you, go to the Govinda’s website and make a booking, right now.
Govinda’s Restaurant in Sydney.

Let Them Eat (Vegan) Cake


A few people took exception to my comments to Danny of Randwick the other day.

Joseph McBride from the USA writes:

“This is really surprising, even as a joke. I don’t know any vegans who would be
tempted by this dairy-rich cake any more than vegetarians would be tempted by a
meat-rich main course.

Once you understand how much cruelty there is in the
dairy industry, which includes the veal industry as an off-shoot, dairy
completely loses its appeal.

There is more suffering in a glass of milk than
there is in a piece of steak. Add to this the fact that that on average there
are 322 million pus cells per liter of milk, or between one to seven drops of
pus per glass, and the myriad health problems caused by dairy, and milk and its
products just become completely repulsive.

The pus is caused by the udder
infections – mastitis – that are rampant amongst cows with swollen udders who
are forced to produce an unnatural amount of milk by giving them bovine growth
hormone. It’s a shame so many vegetarians are ignorant of these sad facts.

not surprising since the information isn’t exactly freely available. Anyone who
really cares about cruelty to animals will stop eating dairy once they find out
the truth about it. Give me the vegan cake any day.”

holy cow:

I replied:

Thanks for your comments Joseph. Of course, I was joking in my exchange with Danny of Randwick. In fact I sent him a vegan cake recipe by email. Here it is.

4 tablespoon of carob powder

1 1/2 cup plain flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup oil

3 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate soda

3 Tablespoon of vanilla essence

3 Tablespoon of imitation chocolate essence

1 cup water

Sift flour and add all dry ingredients together. Mix all liquid ingredients
and add to dry ingredients. Mix well. bake in 8″ cake tin for an hour at 180


I am aware of horrors in the dairy industry and I have had much exchange on my blog about this subject with serious vegans like yourself.

If you key in search words in my blog page SEARCH box you will find numerous of these conversations in my archives.

Here’s a nice one, for instance.

Whilst I do not agree with all your points above, I respect the vegan view, though I have chosen not to be one myself. For more of my views on the vegan perspective, click on some of those links above. Best wishes, Kurma.

Processed Food – Some Observations

From an article in the SMH the other day…

In Defense of Food: How Processed Fare Affects Us

By Paula Goodyer for The Sydney Morning Herald on 12 Feb 2008

a colourful breakfast:

‘For a great example of how our modern food supply got into such a mess, look no further than the history of bread. Back in the late 19th century mechanised roller-milling replaced the older, slower system of grinding grains between big stone wheels – a giant leap forward for food processing, and a step backward for human nutrition.

With faster, finer milling came softer, whiter, more refined flour with a convenient longer shelf life – but minus the wheatgerm with its package of B vitamins, including folate, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. What followed next were epidemics of pellagra and beri beri – diseases cause by lack of B vitamins that sent he flour industry into damage control, adding B vitamins to refined flour in the 1930s.

More recently, the fact that many people are low in folate, lead to US flour being fortified with folate in the 1990s – a move which is also going ahead in Australia.

The moral of this story – that humans do better on food that’s as close to its original state as possible – is the subject of In Defence of Food the latest book from US writer Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

In Defence of Food is partly about how progress in food processing created the western diet which in turn helped fuel new epidemics – like diabetes – which modern medicine is now trying to fix.

The book is also about what he calls the rise in nutritionism – our habit of focussing on what single nutrients or components in food – like fibre – can do for us rather than on the benefits of eating the whole food itself.

‘Nutritionism’ makes us think that you can make a processed food healthy simply by tossing in some extra nutrients – think refined breakfast cereals with some added fibre and vitamins.

An example of why whole foods are so hard to beat is the 2003 study, described by Pollan, that found that none of the individual nutrients in whole grains could fully explain why wholegrain eaters lived longer than other people. Even when people got the same amount of fibre, vitamins and minerals and so on from eating other foods with the same nutrients in them they still weren’t as healthy as the wholegrain eaters.

What the researchers concluded was that there was something else at work and that it was probably food synergy – some kind of interaction between all the different components in wholegrains was creating an extra beneficial effect.

“Fortifying processed food with missing nutrients might be better than leaving them out,” Pollan writes. “But food science can add back only the small handful of nutrients that food sciences recognises as important today. What is it overlooking?

“As the whole grain food synergy study suggests, science doesn’t know nearly enough to compensate for everything that processing does to whole foods. We know how to break down a kernel of corn or grain of wheat into its chemical parts, but we have no idea how to put it back together again. Destroying complexity is a lot easier than creating it.”

As for escaping from a diet of highly processed food, Pollan’s advice includes:

Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.

Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable c) more than five in number.

Avoid food products that make health claims (food products making health claims are in packets and more likely to be processed, he points out).

Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle – processed foods dominate the center aisles, while fresher food is around the walls.

Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. Pollan’s advice here is to try and shop at farmer’s markets whenever you can.’

More on Chapatis

Radha Priya Devi from USA asks:

“Is there some secret to making nice, soft chapatis, which can be easily
torn with one hand on a regular basis?”

My Reply:

Well to start with, I am not an expert chapati-maker because I don’t cook them often. Poories – yes; chapatis, well they are much harder to regulate.

first class chapati:

All these factors should be taken into consideration:

* Using the right flour and the same flour each time: The flour must be first-class atta, imported from India or a pukka local brand.

* You must use the right amount of water in the dough, and the water temperature must be correct.

* You must utilise correct kneading procedures and knead for the correct duration.

* Resting time and place for the dough must be considered.

* You must execute the correct technique in rolling. This includes optimum thickness of the discs, using the same pin each time, knowing how much flour to dredge them in and then pat off before griddle-baking.

* Regulating the baking on the griddle: correct heat under the pan, same pan each time, time baked on each side, and the proper utensil to turn the chapati and then hold the chapati over the flame, duration on the flame.

* Finally, puffing all the air out of the chapati and correct stacking and serving.

There’s a lot to consider here, and in the real world, perfect conditions do not always take place. So the chapati police won’t be knocking on your door if your chapatis are less than perfect.

chapati police:

Oh, by the way:

I’ve had a lot of nice feedback about that amazing puffed chapati. Just letting you know that I didn’t take the photo.

It belongs to Manisha. Visit her blog.

Some more great breads, with recipes and step-by-step photos.