Corny Olde Blogge: Here's One We Made Earlier

This is an article that sunk to the bottom of my TTB (‘things to blog’) list and surfaced again yesterday. When corn was juicy and in full season here in Sydney I whipped up a batch, and served them with some nice sticky Japanese short-grain rice and a peanut sauce.

corn fritters:

Indonesian Crispy Corn Fritters (Perkedel Jagung)

Although rice is the staple diet of most of the people of Indonesia, corn is
another important mainstay, especially in the drier eastern provinces, and also
during the dry season in the whole of Indonesia. Corn is prepared in many ways,
this being one of the most tasty. Serve crispy Perkedel Jagung alongside rice
dishes, accompanied with a sauce or relish, or alone with just a squeeze of lemon.

PREPARATION AND COOKING TIME: 40

Getting it Right

asafetida:

M from India writes:

“Kurma, I often wonder why you recommend yellow asafoetida? Is it better
quality?”

I replied:

Not necessarily. But it is of a standard mildness. Therefore if people want to follow my recipes and duplicate what I got in my test kitchen (and hence get as perfect an outcome as possible) I have specified the yellow asafetida, which tends to be fairly mild, despite the brand.

If I just said ‘1/2 teaspoon asafetida’ some people might have cooked recipes with too much asafetida since they select a stronger grey variety or even a very pure asafetida crystal (where only a pinch is required) and ruin the dish. It’s all about me transmitting the best recipe instructions over time and space under as many variant possibilities as possible via a cookbook.

Just like if I said “a cup of rice”, one inexperienced cook may choose a tiny coffee cup, another a giant mug, but if I say a ‘metric cup (250ml)’ we’re all on the same page. Hope this clarifies.

Roasted Capsicum, Peanut and Tomato Soup

Here in Australia the weather is cooling; despite residual warm days, the blaze of summer is a but a memory. So naturally, in this endless cycle of seasons, soup is starting to appeal yet again.

Roasted Capsicum, Peanut and Tomato Soup, appearing in my second book ‘Cooking with Kurma’, has had some rave reviews over the years. For an authentic flavour, I do suggest you try to hunt down some chipotle chilies. Latin American stores, specialty delicatessen, and mail order spice merchants (like Herbies Spices here in Australia) stock them. By the way, chipotles are none other than smoked jalapenos.

the soup:

Kirsten from Australia writes:

“I have your book but I am living interstate. I am craving your Latin American
tomato soup; you know the one with the peanut butter. I looked for it on your online recipes and it is not there. Could you please send it to me. I am going on a retreat and would love to cook it there. Thank you. Love and Light.”

My reply: Here’s the recipe. Happy cooking!

Roasted Capsicum, Peanut and Tomato Soup

This is a rich Latin American soup, with the smoky flavour of dried chipotle chilies, available at Mexican grocery suppliers. If chipotle chilies are unavailable, use Spanish smoked hot paprika powder along with fresh, red jalapeno chilies.

PREPARATION AND COOKING TIME: about 1

India/Malaysia 2010: Rebirthing

My son Nitai was born in the sacred town of Vrindavan, India, in 1996. When we returned to Vrindavan last month, one of the key items on our to-do list was to take Nitai on a sentimental journey to the hospital where he was born.

At the time of his birth, it was called the Aroghya Deep Hospital (aroghya means good health, and deep means light). It’s in the area called Davanala Kund, where Krishna performed his amazing childhood pastimes over five millenia ago by swallowing a forest fire.

off we go then:

We set off in a rickshaw mid-morning on the second day of our three-day stay in Vrindavan, past all the familiar sights – the hard working residents of Vrindavan, the wandering sadhus, and the cows.

familiar sights:

The rickshaw driver got tired, so Nitai took over. No seriously, he got lost, and being a man, would not ask for directions (sound familiar, ladies?)
After driving round and around, I convinced him to ask directions. While the rickshaw-driver was asking the seventh person, Nitai posed for this photograph.

rickshaw rickshaw!:

We discovered that the Arogya Deep was now known as Engineer Hospital, after the head doctor, surnamed Engineer. In fact it was Doctor Engineer who tended to Nitai’s mother in her later stages of pregnancy, and who performed the Caesarian Section one chilly night in December 1996.

around and around:

We had actually driven past it, and since the name of the hospital was written in Hindi, and perhaps since the rickshaw driver couldn’t read, we had missed it three times.

found it!:

We alighted on our journey of re-discovery. Nitai was a little nervous, so we sat down, took a deep breath, and prepared ourselves.

nervous:

I showed Nitai the post-natal room where we stayed for a couple of nights before heading back to the maternity rooms for a month of recovery. Now it was time to enter the hospital proper.

post natal room:

Nitai’s uncle Iksvaku and his cousin Gopal were with us. We posed for one last shot before we took the plunge. I explained to an orderly why we were there and he allowed us in. He was eager to tell the Doctor of our return.

ready:

I remembered it all so well. That icy cold night in mid winter, the concrete hallways, the plastic chairs outside the birthing room…

light at end of tunnel:

And there at the end of the hallway was the door. We slowly walked towards the light.

go to the light:

Nitai stood for a while outside the unmarked door to the theatre, taking it all in. We chose not to enter, but rather stood and contemplated many things.

rebirthing:

The orderly returned and, breaking our reverie, informed us that the doctor was eager to see us. Doctor Engineer invited us into her office and cordially sat us down. She looked the same as I remembered her, she remembered me and Nitai’s mother well, spoke for some time and kindly asked for a photograph to be taken.

Nitai and Doctor Engineer:

We chatted with the staff, I signed the guest book and left my contact details, and then we were off.

meeting the staff:

Nitai was awash with a mix of emotions, but mainly satisfied that his ‘lifelong’ wish had been fulfilled.

farewell to that:

Our mission accomplished, we return by another bumpy rickshaw to our home base, Krishna Balarama Temple.

Kings of the Wild Frontier

DC from Melbourne, Australia wrote:

“I frequently enjoy lunch at Gopals in Swanston Street. One of my favourite
items are the bean croquettes. Are you able to provide me the recipe?”

My reply:

These have been on the restaurant menu since Gopals’ pioneering days of the 80’s! They seem to be one of the last remaining intact Kurma-era recipes to be found there. At least I think the recipe is intact. Cooks tend to speculate and change things over time; especially some of the Indian cooks who want to put turmeric and chili in everything, even Anglo Saxon recipes like Shepherd’s Pie, grrrrrr…

Lima-Bean and Cheese Croquettes were invented by Trayadisa, one of our early stalwart cooks who now is head chef at Govinda’s in Burleigh. And they appeared in my first cookbook ‘Great Vegetarian Dishes’. Here’s the original recipe. See how they compare to what’s on the menu at Gopals.

croquettes:

Lima-Bean and Cheese Croquettes

Serve these croquettes with a home-made sauce, chutney or fresh yogurt.

BEAN SOAKING TIME: overnight,

PREPARATION TIME: about 25 minutes,

FRYING TIME: 15 to 20 minutes,

YIELD: 1 dozen large croquettes.

Croquettes

1 cup lima beans, soaked overnight in 3 cups cold water,

1/2 cup carrots, coarsely shredded,

3/4 cup cooked corn kernels,

1/2 cup zucchini, coarsely shredded,

2 1/2 cups wholemeal bread crumbs,

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese,

2 cups cold mashed potatoes,

1 tablespoon ground dry-roasted sesame seeds,

11/2 teaspoons yellow asafoetida powder,

21/2 teaspoons salt,

1/4 teaspoon black pepper,

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg,

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice,

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley,

1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander leaves,

ghee or oil for deep-frying,

Batter

1 cup plain flour,

1 1/2 cups water,

1/2 teaspoon salt,

1/2 teaspoon yellow asafetida powder.

Drain the lima beans. Boil them in unsalted water until soft. Drain them and mash them coarsely.

Combine all the croquette ingredients (except 1.5 cups bread crumbs) in a large bowl. Mix well. Form into 1 dozen croquettes about 6.25 cm x 2.5 cm x 2.5 cm (2.5 inches x 1 inch x 1 inch).

Combine the flour and salt and add enough cold water to whisk into a smooth batter with the consistency of thin cream.

Heat the oil or ghee in a deep wok or pan. When the ghee is hot 185°C/365°F, dip a few croquettes in the batter, shake off the excess, roll them in bread crumbs, and carefully lower them into the hot oil. Deep-fry until golden brown and crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the croquettes are fried. Serve hot.

And by the way, if you’re wondering about the title of this blog, it sort of goes like this: DC of Melbourne is a real person. I thought of croquettes, pioneering days, and then DC, and it reminded me of (click at own risk) Davy Crockett, and this song came flooding back to me. Now I can’t get the song out of my head. My fault; the unbridled mind is a dangerous machine.

Happy Birthday GVD & Blueberry Cheesecake

fresh blueberry cheesecake:

Yesterday I taught a cookery workshop at Gopal’s Restaurant in Melbourne. Over dinner, we got to talking about the timeline of events that brought me to where I am today.

I spent 10 years cooking at Gopals – 1980 to 1990 – and towards the end of 1989 I started to think that it was time for me to write a cookbook. I took a year’s leave of absence in 1990, and by the end of the year, Great Vegetarian Dishes had been born. That was the start of a cookbook writing decade, with another 3 titles following, but that’s another story to be told another time.

Fast-forward 20 years, with almost a million of my books in print worldwide (including translations into Hungarian, Italian and Farsi) and I am starting to meet second generation users of my books; by that I mean boys and girls in their 20’s and 30’s whose parents cooked for them from my books, and who have since grown up and are now cooking themselves.

Here’s a fabulous website created by one such person, a very talented lady called Sanjana. I think you’ll enjoy this link.

Kurma's Curried Malay Noodles (Laksa)

the laksa:

I guess I brought it on myself when I suggested to my readers that they could twist my arm for the recipe for my laksa. After a good deal of cyber-twisting, here it is.

There’s a bit of work involved, and a lot of the success in this dish is the presentation. There are three distinct layers: the noodles, then the juicy, chunky fragrant broth, then the lovely toppings, all carefully piled up as high as you can. You’ll need deep laksa bowls to serve it in, to get the “meal in a bowl” look, not miserly little soup bowls.

By the way, if you have a copy of ‘Cooking with Kurma’, you’ll find the recipe there in full technicolor.

And if you are reading this on Facebook, you might find it easier to follow on my blog, where there are better line breaks. It seems Facebook is a bit stingy on proper page layout.

Curried Malay Noodles (Laksa)

Laksa is a taste sensation

Hari Food Up Norf

S K wrote to me:

“A group of us, all friends, will be visiting Australia in May for a few
days. We are all vegetarian…We are likely to be on the Gold Coast for a few days. I would be really grateful if you could give us names of a few
restaurants.”

I replied:

There are a number of excellent Hare Krishna Restaurants in the region you are visiting. Here is a complete list. Happy eating!!

Govinda's Burleigh:

Govindas (Burleigh),

20 James St, Burleigh Heads,

07 5607 0782,

http://www.govindas.net.au/.

Govindas (Surfers Paradise),

134 Centro (old Paradise Centre, behind Gloria Jeans and Starshots,

Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast,

07 5538 3788,

http://sites.google.com/site/govindasvego/.

Govinda's Catering 2:

Cardamon Pod (Byron Bay),

Lawson St, Byron Bay,

02 6672 7383,

http://www.byronvegetariancafe.com.au/.

Govindas (Brisbane City),

99 Elizabeth St, Brisbane

07 3210 255,

http://www.brisbanegovindas.com.au/.

Govinda's Catering 1:

Gopals (Brisbane Suburbs),

1/600 Sherwood Road, Sherwood,

07 3379 1714,

http://www.gopals.com.au.

Govindas Cafe (Brisbane Suburbs),

Shop 2, 302 Logan Road,

Stones Corner,

07 3160 6374.

Back to the Farm

After a brief few days recuperation from my overseas travels, it was soon time to get back to my main pastime – cookery classes. No rest for the wicked!

Last Saturday and Sunday was spent at The Company Farm in Wauchope, in country New South Wales. It’s one of my favourite places for a cookery class weekend.

getting ready for Wuachope class:

We chose a new menu to preview over both days. As usual, many hours were spent setting up all the ingredients.

more mis en place Wauchope:

In fact, half of the ingredients were for the star of the weekend, my famous laksa. Twist my arm and I’ll share the recipe with you.

Wauchope class #1:

The first class started after lunch and finished as the sun set over the rolling hills and illuminated our dinner table. Here’s a close-up of the delectable laksa. Certainly a meal in itself.

the laksa:

The second class was a morning event, concluding in a late lunch. Here we all are again, a different intimate group, poised to dive in to our laksa feast.

sunset over Wauchope:

Here’s our dessert. Yogurt was hung in a cloth to reduce down over a couple of days. The yogurt cream cheese was served with fresh local strawberries macerated in a little raw sugar, drizzled with forest honey and a swirl of balsamic reduction.

Labneh with Strawberries, Honey and Balsamic Reduction:

Then I was off to the airport for a picturesque flight back, down the north coast of the state, to Sydney, and home to bed as the sun again set on a successful culinary weekend.