Old Gold

Here’s an old blog that improves with age:

Madan Mohan Mohini Dasi from Sandy Ridge, North Carolina, USA wrote:

‘I was reading through one of your cookbooks and came upon a recipe with
spinach. I just thought I’d let you in on an old secret about cleaning greens.


You fill your (kitchen-size) sink with water and add salt (maybe a handful or so) and clean your greens in that. (I suppose if you were to use a much larger sink, you would use more salt) Anyway, it takes all the dirt off.

I do this all the time – even with muddy spinach right out of the garden. You don’t even have to do a second rinsing; however, just to play safe I do a second rinsing in clean water (without salt). This really works well and saves a lot of time.’

Mangrove Musings Part 1

My final Mangrove Mountain Anna Yoga Retreat for 2010 is over. Here’s a few photos from Sunday, day #2 of our two-day cooking intensive. The photos for day #1 are on someone else’s camera, so ‘the cheque’s in the mail’ on that one.

Kurma Anna Yoga Retreat August 2010:

Our group poses for an inaugural photo in the room above the kitchen complex as the warming rays of the final days of winter pour through the window.

menu planners still-life:

Our menu for the day, along with pistachios for the kheer dessert, and slabs of rich organic-milk panir cheese, poised to fry and baste to perfection.

Laura and Katherine stir the Kheer:

Sisters Laura and Katherine came with their Mum and seemed to really enjoy themselves. Laura perfected the art of making chapatis the day before. Maybe we’ll have some pictures of that.

miss menaka means business:

Meneka found a new vocation over the weekend – the more physical side of cooking. The heavenly Carrot and Ginger Soup meets it’s end.

panir steak supreme:

And what Panir Steaks! Truly the most succulent I have ever tasted.


The Pistachio and Cardamom Kheer Sevian was highly delicious.

saffron lemonade:

Always a surprise, the Saffron Lemonade delighted many palates.


Raw asparagus ready for it’s 15 minutes of fame.

flamin' asparagus!:

Flamin asparagus! Literally. I have perfected the art of barbecuing asparagus using an exceedingly hot wok. So hot that when a drizzle of oil and seasonings hit the pre-heated surface, it flame-cooks the asparagus.

breath of the wok:

The flames were alight for close to 3 minutes, and the asparagus were truly the most delectable I have ever tasted.

best BBQ asparagus ever:

Asparagus along with the mysterious ‘breath of the wok’ flavour.

Lunch at Mangrove:

A sample of our delights! Come and join us next time.

Return to Mangrove Mountain

Sounds like a movie title. Though I guess “Night on Mangrove Mountain” would be even more evocative.

The fact is that I will be spending a night there. Two nights in fact. It’s time for my Cookery Weekend at the Satyananda Yoga Ashram again – one of my favourite cooking ‘getaways’ of the year. Here’s some photos from previous retreats at Mangrove Mountain.

da boyz:

Father and son in action. Nitai doesn’t come with me to too many classes any more. He’s ‘over it’ for the time being.

nut ladies:

Some of our effulgent crew on cashew-bifurcation duties.

poorie boy:

Showing them exactly how to roll a poorie.

peanut duty:

Peeling oven-roasted peanuts for the North-Indian Cabbage Salad is fun when there’s a few of you doing it at once.

coconut grinders:

Raj and Nitai grate coconut with a nifty machine.

surveying the menu:

Clare and Debi plan their attack.

Veda stirs the Carrot Halava:

The kitchen is always a pleasure to cook in. This giant Bratt Pan is the ideal vessel to prepare cashew and cardamom-laced carrot halava.

Gyanmurti and Leela's Giant Rocket:

We cook for an evening meal of 60, hence our generous salad leaf quantities.

The Berry Babes:

Some young ladies from nearby Berry.

Jacqui's bread:

Some phenomenal loaves of bread.

gang at mangrove mountain:

A gang of 24 ultra-enthusiastic team members pose with a few standard-issue kitchen bowls.

This coming weekend will be the last retreat for 2010. These events are ALWAYS booked up a long way ahead. If you wish to partake of a weekend away at Mangrove Mountain, here are the details for 2011.

March 2011,

Satyananda Yoga Ashram,

Mangrove Mountain NSW,

Anna Yoga Weekend Cookery Retreat,

25-27 March 2011,

Details – call reception 02 4377 1171.

September 2011,

Satyananda Yoga Ashram,

Mangrove Mountain NSW,

Anna Yoga Weekend Cookery Retreat,

10-11 September 2011,

Details – call reception 02 4377 1171.

Sandwich Heaven

epic sandwich:

“What could be better than a grilled panini smeared with pesto mayonnaise, melted mozzarella cheese, grilled eggplant, avocado, tomato, fresh basil leaves and field greens? ”

Thus spake Bhumi Devi, Kitchen Queen.

To have a vision of sandwich heaven, click here.

Buckwheat Chapatis

roll em':

K from Australia writes:

Hi Kurma, Great site. Do you have recipe available for Buckwheat flatbreads? Chapattis? Rotis, please? I can’t have gluten. I want to make some for my elderly parents, how long would they store? Can you freeze if necessary? Buckwheat, oil, salt and water? Would that turn out ok?

My reply:

Hello K, I do have a recipe for buckwheat chapatis. They are gluten-free. As far as freezing and storing: Well, fresh is best, but I guess they will last in the fridge if stored properly, and they may freeze.

Here’s the recipe. By the way, they are very hard to roll out, having no gluten. Patience and a deft hand is required.

And no, oil is not required in the dough. The secret is mashed potato. Here we go:

Buckwheat Chapatis

Buckwheat is not technically a grain, but it lends itself to breads and pancakes as it behaves like a grain. In India and elsewhere, on the grain-free Vaisnava fasting day of Ekadasi, buckwheat, as well as other pseudo-grains, like chestnut flour and tapioca flour, are used in a variety of versatile ways. If you like the taste of buckwheat, you’ll love these tender versions of India’s most popular flatbread, the chapati.

Buckwheat contains no gluten, so those of you who can’t eat wheat will find this recipe appealing. As far as equipment is concerned, you’ll need at least one non-stick frypan, (two or three are better), a rolling pin, a smooth surface for rolling, and some kitchen tongs. Makes 10 large chapatis.

2 cups buckwheat flour, about 250g

½ teaspoon salt

300g peeled potatoes, about 3 medium-sized potatoes, cut into large pieces

3 tablespoons water

a good quantity of extra buckwheat flour for dusting and rolling

melted butter or ghee (optional, for spreading over the chapatis after they’ve been cooked)

roll em': Combine the buckwheat flour and salt in a large bowl.

roll em': Boil the potatoes in sufficient water until they are very soft. Remove, drain and mash them. Measure the quantity of mashed potatoes. You will need 1 cup. Place the measured quantity of mashed potatoes in a large metal sieve over a large kitchen bowl. Push and rub the potato through the sieve and collect it in the bowl.

roll em': Pre-heat the large non-stick frying pan, or pans over moderate heat. Combine the warm mashed potato with the buckwheat flour. Add the water a little at a time to form a soft, but not sticky dough. Turn the dough onto a clean, smooth working surface, sprinkled with buckwheat flour. Turn and knead the dough for one or two minutes.

roll em': Pinch off 10 even-sized lumps of dough and form them into smooth balls, pressing and kneading them gently into thick patties. Dredge a patty of dough in flour and place it on the flour-strewn surface. Carefully roll it with a dry, flour-sprinkled rolling pin to a fairly thin, even, smooth disc about 15 cm (6 inches) in diameter. If it sticks to the pin, re-roll it and apply more flour. A little care needs to be taken here since the dough contains no gluten and is very delicate.

roll em': Very carefully pick up the disc of dough and quickly transfer it to the frying pan. Slip it onto the hot pan, taking care to avoid wrinkling it. Cook it for about 1 minute on the first side. The top of the bread should start to show small bubbles, or it may even fully puff up in the pan – even better!

roll em': Turn it over, being careful not to tear it, and cook it on the reverse side. When a few dark spots appear on the underside, lift the chapati with kitchen tongs to about 5cm over a full flame, if you are using gas. If using an electric stove, you’ll need to sit a cake cooling rack above, but not touching, the element. The chapati should swell into a puffy balloon.

roll em': Cook it until it shows a few more darker spots, then place it in a bowl or basket covered with a clean cloth, and continue cooking the rest of the chapatis. When they are cooked and stacked, you may like to butter them. Serve buckwheat chapatis hot, or keep them warm, well covered, in a pre-heated warm oven for up to half an hour.

Real Men Do Eat Quiche

asparagus quiche:

S from Auckland, New Zealand writes:

“Hello there. I lived in London 9 years ago and used to dine at Govinda’s near Tottenham Court Road regularly. I still crave the amazing quiche they used to serve. I wondered if you would be able to let me know the recipe, or some of it so I can attempt to make it myself. Many thanks, S.”

Dear S: Here’s my eggless quiche recipe. Obviously you can put in whatever vegies you like.

Asparagus and Tomato Quiche

A quiche is an open faced tart with a savoury filling and is the perfect luncheon or supper dish accompanied by a green salad and French bread. It also makes a good first course for dinner. Quiche lends itself to advance preparation; the crust or base of the quiche should be cooked beforehand. A cold quiche is great for picnic fare or makes a quick, satisfying snack.

CRUST BAKING TIME: 15 minutes,


BAKING TIME: 30 minutes,

YIELD: one 20 cm (8-inch) quiche.


1/2 cup melted butter,

1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour,

3 tablespoons water, or as required,

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.

Quiche filling

2 tablespoons sour cream,

2 tablespoons softened cream cheese,

2 tablespoons tomato paste,

2 tablespoons cornflour,

1 teaspoon salt,

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper,

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese,

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme,

1/2 teaspoon dried basil,

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano,

1/2 teaspoon yellow asafoetida powder,

3 1/2 cups fresh asparagus, diced and steamed,

2 medium tomatoes, sliced into rings

Combine the butter and flour, rubbing well until it reaches a coarse meal consistency. Add the water and parmesan cheese to the mixture and mix to form a firm pastry . Press the mixture into a buttered 20 cm (8-inch) quiche or flan tin, being careful that the crust mixture is evenly distributed throughout the tin.

Bake the quiche crust in a hot oven 200°C/390°F until light golden brown. Allow to cool.

Combine the sour cream, softened cream cheese, tomato paste, cornflour, salt, pepper, 1 cup cheese, herbs, and spices and mix well. Add the asparagus.

Spoon the mixture into the cooled quiche crust, smooth out, press the slices of tomato on top, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and bake in a preheated oven set on 190°C/375°F for about 20 minutes or until the filling is set and the top is golden. Allow to cool before serving.

The Ones That Got Away: Part Three

This report finally brings us up to date with all things bloggy.

We held our first Cookery Retreat at Krishna Valley, in country Victoria, two weekends ago.
Krishna Valley, surrounded by State Forest, is 200 acres of beautiful rolling countryside a couple hours outside of Melbourne, Australia. Here are some images:

Our Winter Cooking Retreat at Krishna Valley:

This is us, in our great farm kitchen, the ‘action-central’ for all things culinary over the weekend. We had loads of fun.

another panir steak on the barbie:

We made our cheese from scratch, pressed it, and fried it on our giant red-hot smokin’ griddle, splashing it with tamari and home-made sweet chili sauce in it’s final moments of basting glory.

Watch out for Mr Teddles:

The oldest member of our group, who wished to be known only as Teddles (to his friends) had a great deal of fun blending our heavenly carrot and ginger soup to a creamy puree. He said he would like to take the giant Professional Bamix home to his ‘shed’, but alas, he had to hand it in at the door. (Teddles also won the ‘silliest bandana of the weekend’ prize).

lunch, Krishna Valley:

Our next and final retreat for this year will be in October 2010, but alas that is fully booked out. Stay tuned for the opening of enrolments for 2011. Better still, contact Veda on the number below and book ahead. (Pssst…rumour has it that there will be one at the beginning of April…ssshhh…)

Bhakti Yoga Cookery Retreat,

Hare Krishna Valley, Bambra, Victoria,

A weekend of cooking, learning and eating!

2011 dates to be announced,

Bookings/reservations/enquiries call Veda 0405 577 453.

The Ones That Got Away: Part Two

It was my Dad’s 86th birthday a few weeks ago. I cooked a bit of a feast for the close family. Notable was the cake. Here’s a few images.

WARNING: do not cast thy glances upon them on an empty stomach, for ye shall be smitten with a cake-lust that cannot be fulfilled. Look away, look awaaaayyyy…

yes it's home-made:

Yes, it’s home made. By me.

an imitation carob cake:

Whichever way you look at it, it looks good.

looks good from all angles:

There’s none left, sorry. All that remains of this cake are the memories, and these electronic images.

Life is cruel.