Afiyet Olsun!

spice bazaar:

My old friend S from Turkey fondly remembers my cookery adventures in Istanbul.

He offered to translate some of my recipes into Turkish. We tried installing Turkish fonts, but it was incompatible with this blog, so he kindly transliterated the text.

I appreciate that this will have little appeal for those unable to actually speak Turkish, but if there any Turkish readers out there, I wish you Afiyet Olsun!

Mayapur stili Sebzeli Hamurlar (Samosa)

Bir defasinda birisi soyle demisti:



Belgian city plans ‘veggie’ days

Tuesday, 12 May 2009 BBC News, Ghent

“The Belgian city of Ghent is about to become the first in the world to go vegetarian at least once a week.

Starting this week there will be a regular weekly meatless day, in which civil servants and elected councillors will opt for vegetarian meals.” More…

Lovin' Plateful

I’m back from my weekend interstate teaching trip to two of La Trobe University’s campuses.

My plate is full at the moment, so more on my cookery adventure tomorrow. Oh, by the way, my chilies did fine without me. Here’s the latest plateful.

hello my children:

From the Archives: Memory Lane #5


Andrew Kang from South Australia wrote:

Kurma, please tell about rennet. What’s it for, what does it do?

I replied:

Hello Andrew,
Rennet is an essential ingredient in cheese making. It’s an enzyme that coagulates milk proteins, thus setting the curd.

Hey Presto! It's Kurma's Pesto

My two huge basil plants have passed their prime and are fast approaching the herbal version of their ‘twilight years’. I couldn’t think of a better way to preserve their leaves than making pesto.

The original recipe from my first cookbook is simple and delicious, so I used that.

pesto ingredients:

Genoa, Northern Italy, is the home of the famous Pasta Pesto alla Genovese – pasta with a pungent sauce called pesto, made primarily of fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts.

Pine nuts are quite expensive at the moment, and the glut of cheaper Chinese pine nuts I find to have a turpentine flavour. So I decided to use half-and-half toasted unblanched almonds and toasted brazil nuts – about a scant cup in total (not all the nuts in the photo above!) – which I ground to a rough crumbly powder.

I grated 250g Grana Padano without any calf rennet (from the local kosher deli).

Three ever-so-tightly-packed cups of basil leaves (that whole bowl full above) and 2 teaspoons Himalayan salt along with a cup of extra-virgin olive oil and a scant teaspoon yellow asafetida heated in a little olive oil rounded out the recipe.

hey presto:

I macerated it all in my food processor, and spooned it into 3 jars. It’s great on toast, stirred into hearty minestrones, or folded through pasta trenette or linguine. Oh, by the way, it freezes well.

The day after I finished making the pesto, I received a gift of first-class organic olive oil in the post. So I picked more leaves and made another batch this morning. I’ve got quite a stock now. Pesto ahoy!

From the Archives: Memory Lane #4

World’s Oldest Living Man

I read today of the world’s oldest living man: Emiliano Mercado Del Toro, who lives in Puerto Rico, and was born on August 21, 1891. That makes him 114 years old.

But, with respect, I say ‘move over Emiliano’, you’re a new kid on the block:

‘By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together form the duration of Brahma’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.’

“The duration of the material universe is limited. It is manifested in cycles of kalpas. A kalpa is a day of Brahma, and one day of Brahma consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas, or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali.

The cycle of Satya is characterized by virtue, wisdom and religion, there being practically no ignorance and vice, and the yuga lasts 1,728,000 years. In the Treta-yuga vice is introduced, and this yuga lasts 1,296,000 years. In the Dvapara-yuga there is an even greater decline in virtue and religion, vice increasing, and this yuga lasts 864,000 years. And finally in Kali-yuga (the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years) there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion and vice, true virtue being practically nonexistent, and this yuga lasts 432,000 years.

In Kali-yuga vice increases to such a point that at the termination of the yuga the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki avatara, vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees, and commences another Satya-yuga. Then the process is set rolling again. These four yugas, rotating a thousand times, comprise one day of Brahma, and the same number comprise one night. Brahma lives one hundred of such “years” and then dies. These “hundred years” by earth calculations total to 311 trillion and 40 billion earth years.


By these calculations the life of Brahma seems fantastic and interminable, but from the viewpoint of eternity it is as brief as a lightning flash. In the Causal Ocean there are innumerable Brahmas rising and disappearing like bubbles in the Atlantic. Brahma and his creation are all part of the material universe, and therefore they are in constant flux.”

– Bhagavad-gita As It Is, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

From the Archives: Memory Lane #3

Why no Onions and Garlic?

This is my most-often-asked question. Today Miss Harsha Advani from Pune, India, wrote and asked it again:

“…my query is why shouldn’t onion and garlic be consumed in sattvic diet? what
are it’s side effects or consequences?”

onions and garlic:

My reply:

Dear Miss Advani,

You may know that onions and garlic are botanical members of the Allium family – along with leeks, chives and shallots. According to Ayurveda, India’s classic medical science, foods are grouped into three categories – sattvic, rajasic and tamasic – foods in the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. Onions and garlic, and the other Alliums are classified as rajasic and to some extent tamasic, which means that they increase passion and to some degree ignorance.

Those that subscribe to pure brahmana-style cooking of India, including myself, and Vaishnavas – followers of Lord Vishnu, Rama and Krishna – like to only cook with foods from the sattvic category. These foods include fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, dairy products, grains and legumes, and so on. Specifically, Vaisnavas do not like to cook with rajasic or tamasic foods because they are unfit to offer to the Deity.

Rajasic and tamasic foods are also not used because they are detrimental to meditation and devotions. Of course some of the Alliums have specific health benefits; garlic is respected as a natural antibiotic. In recent years, the cardiovascular implications of vegetable Alliums has been studied in some detail, although the clinical implications of onion and garlic consumption from this point of view are not well understood (Block 1992; Briggs et al. 2001). Nevertheless, despite medical comings and goings, alliums are still avoided by spiritual adherents because they stimulate the central nervous system, can act as a natural aphrodisiac, and disturb meditation.

You may be aware that strict Buddhists also do not eat any of the Alliums for the same reasons as adherents of India’s Ayurveda – they disturb meditation. If you visit any strict vegetarian Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, or Japanese restaurant anywhere in the world you will most likely find no Alliums in any of the cooking.

One reason is because in ancient Tao writings, one sage Tsang-Tsze described the Alliums as the “five fragrant or spicy scented vegetables” , and that each have a detrimental effect on one of the following five organs – liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, and heart.

Tsang-Tsze said that these pungent vegetables contain five different kinds of enzymes which cause “reactions of repulsive breath, extra-foul odour from perspiration and bowel movements, and lead to lewd indulgences, enhance agitations, anxieties and aggressiveness,” especially when eaten raw.

That in a nutshell is why I don’t cook with garlic and onions.

From the Archives: Memory Lane #2

Khichari to the Rescue

Khichari – the delectable, nourishing, succulent stew of rice, dal and vegetables has been the mainstay of millions since the dawn of creation.

spices for khichari:

Here’s a letter from another appreciative recipient of the soothing balm which is khichari:

Dear Kurma,
Wow!!! Thanks for that Khichari recipe in “Vegetarian World Food”. I feel
like I have been looking for this recipe for 20 years and finally found it.
Home with the flu and trying to get better, I thought I would check out some
healthy recipes and found Khichari. By luck, I had most of the ingredients
here at home.

Whole-hearted thanks for your wonderful book and great intentions to offer
delicious, nutritious recipes shared by peoples around the world.

Absolutely delicious! Perfect! Fantastic!


San Francisco, California, USA


So, here’s the recipe:

Mung Beans, Rice & Vegetables (Khichari)

Khichari (pronounced

Vegie Pets

vegi pet:

I am not a pet-owner. But I often speak with vegetarian pet-owners who struggle with the issues discussed below. After years of blogging, I pretty much know which topics will stimulate loads of letters; this is one of them, I am sure. Anyway, here goes:

Friederike from Australia writes:

“We have two dogs and a cat. I feed them tinned meat and kangaroo bones,
because the kangaroos are killed anyway in Australia. But I do not like
it. Do you think it is OK to feed meat to pet animals? I know that dogs
can live without meat, but cats are said to die without it. What are the
alternatives, apart from very expensive special vegetarian pet food?”

My reply: Big subject! The animals do not incur any karma for eating flesh. It is their natural condition. In fact, animals incur no karmic result for anything they do. Humans however do. So if you feed your pets meat (which involves buying it and thus supporting the meat industry) you do incur involvement in the complex and strict karmic chain of killing.

I know many vegan/veg pet-owners who have so-called vegetarian dogs. And yes, the concept of a vegetarian cat is indeed a challenge. Best I can suggest is that you visit the numerous discussion groups and internet sites for vegan/veg pet owners. There are many. Or wait and read the readers’ letters this blog generates.

If I had a cat (never have, never will) I would feed it veg food and if it wants meat it will go and kill some itself. Hence I would incur no part in the nasty business of mass slaughter of animals for food.

Ok all you vegetarian pet-owners out there, tell me what you do (click on ‘comments’ below). And please, dear vegans, no roasting me for using dairy products today, please. Keep to the topic.

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