Vegi Burger King

Michelle from Australia’s Gold Coast wrote:

“Dear Kurma, I would like to request if you could do me a favour. I am cooking your wonderful Vegie Nut Burgers for 300 people! Are you able to provide me with quantities for 300?

I love this recipe and have been feeding my family these burgers for years.
However this recipe is in mls….oh a little tricky to convert. Much blessings from a hopeful recipient…”

The Big K Burger:

My Reply:

My original recipe makes 16 burgers. 300 divided by 16 = 18.75. Rounding up, you’ll need to multiply the recipe by 20 to cover it. The recipe multiplies exactly. So that’s:

20 cups cooked short-grain rice (it should be sticky) ,

30 cups cooked brown lentils, thoroughly drained ,

10 cups carrots, coarsely shredded ,

30 cups bread crumbs ,

10 cups peanut butter ,

800ml soy sauce (3 cups + 2 tablespoons) ,

100ml Chinese sesame oil (scant half cup) ,

3/4 cup dried basil ,

1 1/4 cups dried oregano ,

20 teaspoons salt (heaped 1/4 cup – careful) ,

heaped 1/4 cup yellow asafoetida powder ,

10 cups chopped fresh parsley ,

heaped 1/4 cup sweet paprika

Proceed as per the recipe. Best wishes, Kurma.

Kurma Blog Re-runs: Cereal Killer

Yadvah from India asks:

“Many people would argue that we do not eat meat because we believe in the ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence) principle, i.e we should not kill any living things. Then why do we eat plants, they too are living things and we kill them when we uproot them, don’t we?

I know Lord Krishna has said in the Geeta that He will accept plants and
fruits and water offered to him, but is there any scripturally related
scientific reason as to why we may ‘kill’ (eat) plants? Is it something to do with the different elements they’re made up of versus the five elements that animals and human beings are made up of? I would appreciate if you could kindly share your thoughts on this sir.”


My answer:

“Well, I don’t think the answer has got anything to do with the elements that plants and animals share in common. Rather, you answered your own question in quoting from the Gita verse. I can add that out of plants, fruits and water, of course, water and fruits are pain free. Although if you want to get picky, there are millions of microscopic creatures killed when we drink water and even breathe air.

But since you mention vegies, I would like to make a distinction: in the non-violent, pain-free category would be the eggplants, tomatoes, chilies, broccoli, zucchini, pumpkin, green beans, fresh peas etc etc etc – the list is vast – where the plant is not killed by plucking the vegetables. These vegetables are botanically the fruits of these plants, and these plants continue to live after we pluck their offspring. Just like I have a kumquat tree growing in my garden, and the tree happily (well I guess it’s happy) allows me to pick the fruits, then gives more next year. Same with my lemon tree, my strawberries, my chilies, and all my herbs.

That just leaves things that are killed actually, like potatoes, grains, carrots, greens that are pulled out by the roots, killing the plant and releasing the soul that resides there. And, I might add, if we wanted to get botanically correct, potato plants, and most other root vegetables, and many if not all grain- and legume- plants actually die off before we take the harvest. And of course tree nuts are a yearly gracious gift of trees that live for decades.

So my perspective is this: There is a Sanskrit aphorism which states “Jivo Jivasya Jivanam”, which means that by nature’s arrangement one living being is food for another.

If we wish to tread more lightly on Mother Earth, and in doing so also create as little karmic debt as possible, we should kill as little as possible, and if we have to kill, then only kill those creatures that have the least developed nervous systems, and that hence feel very little pain, like the vegetables. And to be excused even for that killing, one should offer all his food to God first, before eating and by doing so he will be relieved of even the residual offense in killing the vegetables.

Kurma Blog Re-runs: In Search of The Perfect Chip

Bhanu from UK writes: ‘How to make potato chips at home that are crisp on the outside?’

My reply: Here’s the step-by-step process:

perfect chip:

Step One

Begin by choosing the right kind of potatoes. This is the most important step. In different countries the ideal chip potato has different names. The best potato for chips should be neither too watery nor too high in sugar, which respectively give it a crispy texture and a light golden colour. In Australia, many feel Bintjes are the best, in UK it’s King Edward. Not sure about USA. You get the picture. Whatever the name, choose a floury potato.

Step Two
Peel the potatoes, slice, and cut the slices into even batons. In different countries, the preferred chips can be thin or thick. Again, it’s a matter of taste.

Step Three
Once you have cut the chips you should rinse them thoroughly to remove the excess starch. Pat them dry with a clean tea towel or paper towel. Some even soak them in water first, before rinsing. Either way, they must be completely dried.

Step Four
This step is called blanching; the chips are fried at 160°C (some prefer 170°C) for 4-6 minutes and lifted out just as they start to colour. Make sure you use clean oil to fry in (sunflower is good as it has a high smoking point). Personally, I like ghee. It has an even higher smoking point, and tastes divine. Not cheap, but the very, very best, taste-wise.
To assure the correct oil temperature: if you do not have a mini deep-fryer at home it’s worth investing in a thermometer to take out the guesswork.

Step Five

So we’re frying the chips in batches, allowing the oil to recover its heat before submerging the next batch. Don’t overcrowd. The chips will be cooked on the inside but not crisp. Crisping comes next.

Step Seven
After the initial batches of chips are all fried and set aside, increase the oil temperature to 180-190°C.

Step Eight
Cook the chips a second time, again in batches, allowing the oil to recover its heat in between batches.

Step Nine
Continue to fry until the chips have a nice crispy golden exterior.

Step Ten
Drain on some paper towel, lightly season with sea salt and serve immediately.

Kurma Blog Re-runs: "Shoots, Roots & Leaves"

Relax, I’m not about to tell you one of those risque jokes about the panda with the sub-machine gun who walked into a bar. This is a serious posting (‘yeah, sure’, I hear you say).


No, I mean it.

Archana from Singapore wrote me this morning:

“I just bought fresh bamboo shoots from the supermarket. How do I cook it? I
heard some contain cyanide and have to be leached out? Can you please explain how
this is done.”

My reply:

Yes, you are correct about the cyanide. Here’s some information from the Australian Department of Public Health:

bamboo shoot:

What are bamboo shoots? – Bamboo shoots are a traditional component of Asian cuisine. Fresh bamboo shoots are cut, the outer leaves are peeled away and any fibrous tissue at the base is trimmed. They are sourced from the underground stems of the bamboo plant. There are many species of bamboo, of which only a small number are used as food.

Where do bamboo shoots come from? – Most of the bamboo shoots imported into Australia and New Zealand come from China, Taiwan, Thailand and other South East Asian countries.

Are raw or fresh bamboo shoots safe to eat? – Bamboo shoots are safe to eat providing that they are prepared properly.

Fresh bamboo shoots that have not undergone any processing can be a potential public health and safety risk due to the presence of cyanogenic glycosides. This can lead to hydrogen cyanide exposure and its related toxicity.

How do I make bamboo shoots safe to eat? – Fresh bamboo shoots should be sliced in half lengthwise, the outer leaves peeled away and any fibrous tissue at the base trimmed. It should then be thinly sliced into strips and boiled in lightly salted water for eight to ten minutes.

bamboo julienne:

The most common preparation involves boiling the shoots in stocks, soups or salted water for use in assorted dishes.”

Kurma Blog Re-runs: The Big Salad

The Big Salad:

Many years ago, when I was travelling the world, interviewing expatriate Australian Hare Krishna devotees for my historical book, ‘The Great Transcendental Adventure’, I found myself in Colorado. I had tracked down some old friends, Vidyaranya and Dipak, who lived in Boulder and Basalt respectively.

My home base was in Denver, at the Hare Krishna Temple, and everyday I would have lunch at Govinda’s on Cherry Street. It’s still there, by the way, and highly recommended.

I picked up quite a few recipes on the road, and some of them made their way into my subsequent cookbooks.

govindas cherry street:

Yesterday I received this letter from Pamela in California, and it got my culinary memory juices flowing:

“I am asked to make Almond salad dressing for our next home program.
Would you please give me the recipe. Thank you.”

Here’s my reply:


The Hare Krishnas of Denver, Colorado, run a very popular restaurant, Govinda’s, on Cherry Street. One of their salad dressings particularly appeals to me; as the name suggests, it’s packed with strong flavours. Nutritional or brewers yeast is available at health food stores.

PREPARATION TIME: a few minutes

YIELD: 2 cups

1 cup blanched almonds

1 cup cold water

1 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast or brewers yeast

Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until completely smooth. That’s it.

It’s a great dressing, especially on ‘big salads’.