Hummus bi Tahina

creamy hummus:

Georgie from London writes: “Hello Kurma, do you have a hummus recipe without garlic? I want to whip some up for New Year’s Day”

My reply: “Yes, here’s my recipe. Creamy!”

Chickpea and Sesame Paste Dip (Hummus bi Tahina)

Homemade hummus is much, much better than any shop-bought version, unless you are purchasing the freshly made product from a traditional middle-eastern suppler. Truly authentic hummus is made from freshly soaked, boiled and peeled chickpeas – not as daunting as it sounds! If that’s all too hard, buy canned chickpeas, and proceed from there; but the result will definitely be inferior.

Here in Australia, I use the Ord River chickpeas from Western Australia. When cooked they produce big, soft creamy-textured chickpeas, ideal for hummus. Overseas readers should locate the largest chickpeas they can find. Big is beautiful in the chickpea world, I have discovered. This recipe makes 1½ cups.

200g dried chickpeas, that’s one very heaped metric measuring cup

¼ cup lemon juice

½ teaspoon yellow asafetida powder (to replace two cloves garlic)

¼ cup tahini

1 teaspoon salt

Soak the chickpeas in cold water overnight or at least 6 hours. Drain and throw away the soak water. Place the chickpeas in a large saucepan. Cover with fresh, unsalted cold water, about three times the volume, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour or until the chickpeas are very tender, topping up with water if necessary.

Drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid. Cool slightly then rub the chickpeas well to loosen the skins. Cover with cold water and the loose skins will rise to the surface. Scoop them off and discard. The chickpeas that didn’t give up their skins should be peeled for the best, creamiest hummus. Patience!

Place the peeled chickpeas in a food processor with the lemon juice, asafetida, tahini and half of the salt. Process to a smooth puree, adding some of the reserved cooking liquid if necessary to achieve a smooth result. Add the remaining salt if it needs it.

5 Good Reasons to Eat Your Dog

why not:

By the end of this “festive season” (not festive for the animals) carnivorous humans will be bloated with the fat and flesh of cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys, and all things that used to live in the sea.

If you know anyone like this, and think you’d like to give them a little push along towards turning vegetarian, this is the link for you.

Warning: extremely graphic images.

Vegetarian is the New Prius

vegie barbecue:

Vegetarian is the New Prius

The Huffington Post, 28 December 2009

President Herbert Hoover promised “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” With warnings about global warming reaching feverish levels, many are having second thoughts about all those cars. It seems they should instead be worrying about the chickens.

Last month, the United Nations published a report on livestock and the environment with a stunning conclusion: “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”

…read the whole article…



I haven’t seen the movie, but I know enough about it to fully endorse this interesting perspective by my favourite blogger.

Kripamoya writes:

“The word avatar has a very specific meaning and it is one of the frequently used terms in the theology of Vaishnavism. It means

Colour my World

Some new crops from my garden.

Big Red:

The first of my red chilies. I think these ones are Scotch Bonnet, or Caribbean Red Habaneros.


It’s Frangipani season in Sydney. When cut for vases, the house is filled with intoxicating fragrance.

Who can deny that these are the works of a Supreme Artist?

Egg Replacement in Cakes

Kurma's black forest sponge cake:

I receive more correspondence on this subject than any other. So here we go again:

HP dasi from London writes:

“I love baking, especially cakes. I have gone through all your books and tried almost all your baking recipes. What is the best subtitute for eggs in cakes.”

My reply:

There are a number of substitutes. In the Black Forest Sponge Cake above I use soured milk as a substitute for eggs (I simply add lemon juice to cold milk). Other’s swear by sour cream as an egg-replacer.

Here’s three more: To replace 1 egg…

2 tablespoon flour + 1/2 teaspoon oil + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder + 2 tablespoons liquid (milk, cream, buttermilk, diluted yogurt, or dairy free alternatives like coconut milk, soy milk, etc) beaten together until smooth.


2 tablespoons water + 1 tablespoon oil + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, beaten together until smooth.


1 tablespoon ground flax seeds + 3 tablespoons warm water, beaten together until smooth.

Baked Cheesecake

baked cheesecake:

Sandra from Bendigo, Victoria wrote me:

“I love your first book so much it is nearly worn out, though sadly I have
lent it or lost this book. Is it possible to send me the recipe or ingredients of Baked Cheesecake. If you can, I will be forever in your debt.”

My reply: Here is my recipe from Great Vegetarian Dishes.

Baked Cheesecake

Baked cheesecakes are rich and opulent and are a treat served with whipped cream and fresh sliced fruits.

Preparation time: 20 minutes,

Baking Time: at least 1 1/4 hours,

Refrigeration and setting time: 24 hours,

Yield: one 25 cm (10-inch) cheesecake.


1/4 cup softened butter,

1/4 cup sugar,

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract,

1 cup unbleached plain flour,

1 teaspoon baking powder.


500g ricotta cheese,

500g softened cream cheese,

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice,

1 1/2 cups sugar,

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder, or 1 tablespoon cornflour,

1 1/3 cups fresh cream,

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

To prepare the crust: cream the butter and sugar and add the vanilla. Sift the flour and the baking powder. Combine the flour mixture with the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Pat it into the bottom of a buttered 25 cm (10-inch) cheesecake pan.

To prepare the filling: place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a beater until light and fluffy. Do not over-mix. Spoon the mixture into the pan on top of the uncooked crust.

Bake in the middle of a preheated 180°C/355°F oven for 1 1/4 hours or until lightly golden brown on top. The cake is done when the entire surface is golden brown.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven; allow it to cool. Refrigerate it for at least 20 to 24 hours before serving. Decorate it with cream and fruits if desired.

Festival of Appreciation

A Festival of appreciation, gratitude and thanks was organised by the inspirational Vara-nayaka at the North Sydney Hare Krishna Temple last Sunday. I was requested to cater for the function, and I did. I spent all of Saturday and half of Sunday with a large crew of assistants.

I’ve had a lot of experience cooking for big events, and I know that it takes a huge amount of pre-planning. Here’s a fragment of my ‘writing on the wall’. I’ve been described by many adjectives before, but ‘listless’ is not one of them.

writing on the wall:

We cooked deep-pan lasagna, a ‘main course’ on a one plate selection.

mature age teamwork:

These are just a few of the key players in Team Lasagna. On the bottom of the photo is Krishna, a head chef from the Ashok Hotel chain. Without his help, I would not have been able to assemble the 30 large lasagnas (600 pieces).

more lasagna:

More lasagna assembly. 40 kilos of cheese, 20 kilos of lasagna sheets, 70 litres of herbed tomato sauce, 60 litres of bechamel, 20 kilos red peppers, 20 kilos eggplants, 5 litres olive oil, 30 kilos spinach… It was the biggest lasagna I have ever attempted.

spinach story:

We also prepared an intricate salad of many opulent ingredients like rocket leaves, broccoli florets, feta, grape tomatoes, chickpeas, Lebanese cucumbers, avocado, asparagus, feta, kalamata olives, all drenched in a tahini-and lime-infused dressing.

Another star contender in the menu were the delectable panir cheese pakoras.

cheesy grin:

One of our main men, panir in hand. 25 kilos of panir was used. The time-honoured cauliflower pakoras were also there, a date and tamarind chutney, and an extremely opulent Bengali Royal Rice (Pushpana).

I wanna be sedated:

This is the stalwart Jitendriya, who, despite his t-shirt, did not want to be sedated.

the ever-smiling Tatiana:

And who can forget the ever-smiling, never-complaining Tatiana?

team parfait:

A multi-layer parfait of cardamom rice pudding, strawberries, vanilla custard, miniature anise doughnuts, mango, whipped cream and pecans.

tres parfait:

And to refresh: 150 litres of icy cold saffron lemonade.

balancing act:

And finally it was done. The cheeky Jambavati shows us just how to enjoy a feast. And that’s well-known bhajan singer extraordinaire Carmella Baynie carrying what Jambavati was not humanly able to transport.

hungry, happy punters:

They reckoned they were carrying plates for four girls. I’m not so sure…

banquet hall:

An aerial view of a small portion of the eating area.

quietly enjoying the feast:

Some, like these troupe-members from Le Carnaval Spirituel, chose to enjoy the feast in a more leasurely fashion. After 500 happy punters were replete with the festive fare, they enjoyed the rest of the afternoon’s entertainment. My mission was complete. Thanks to all. I ‘appreciate’ it.

What's New in Kurma's Garden

Summer is well and truly here, and things are moving along nicely in my tiny patio garden. While Europe and parts of North America are buried in snow, Sydney shimmers in blasting heat. Such are the dualities of this strange world.

wild side:

My tasty, semi-bitter rocket is …rocketing! I just pick a few leaves and have with any savoury sandwich, or salad selection. Healthy bitter greens stimulate appetite and keep the pancreas ‘well-oiled’.

first-born Habaneros:

The first ripe Yellow Habaneros for the season. Many more are ripening on the bushes. These chilies have an exquisite flavour and fragrance and are blisteringly hot – 30 times hotter than a Jalapeno, in fact. But you’ve got to love them for their beauty.

fragrant lemongrass:

Lemongrass is such a reliable herb. I use the leaves for tea. Very soothing on the stomach, and delicious! Just cut, pour boiling water on top, leave to brew, then drink.

homegrown berries:

A humble offering from my humble strawberry plant.

new kids on the block:

Seeds of last season’s Habaneros and Red Savinas are reaching adolescence. Won’t be long before they will also be ‘with child’.


Rosemary is a new addition to my herb collection. Great with potatoes!!!

Kumquat's ripening in the summer sun:

The first flush of kumquats came and went many months ago. I was able to make nine kilos of kumquat marmalade from the small yield. It is truly astonishing just how few fruit you need for a large jar of jam. Just six of my large-ish kumquats yield a one-kilo jar of marmalade. These have got quite a few weeks to go. There are literally hundreds of fruits this season. That’s a truckload of marmalade.

Le Carnaval Spirituel

I visited Le Carnaval Spirituel on Wednesday night at the Bondi Pavilion Theatre. Here’s a mini photgraphic report.

This is Sivanjali from Moscow’s Rasika Dance Company performing some traditional Bharat Natyam Classical Indian Dance.

bharata natyam 1:

The four-headed Lord Brahma makes an appearance in a scene from the contemporary stylized drama of the great Indian spiritual classic Bhagavad-gita.

four-headed brahma:

Sanatani with more classical Indian dance.

bharata natyam 2:

Some more of Sivanjali and Sanatani with some Kantipuri dance.


The Shyam Dance, a Rajasthani village folk dance celebrates our search for connection with the Divine Couple.

radha krishna:

The tribal drummers of Manipur were a sensation.

tribal drums:

The drum act was breathtakingly acrobatic.

Manipur dance:

After the show, the leader of the troupe Indradyumna Swami poses with my Dad, who thoroughly enjoyed the performance.

Maharaja and Dad:

If you live in Sydney and want to attend some more concerts, they’ll be in Randwick this weekend, then Mona Vale, Manly, Cronulla, Newtown, Balmain and Leichardt.

Le Carnaval Spirituel will also be performing at other New South Wales venues, and in Queensland.

For all the venue details…