The Ones That Got Away: Part One

My cooking classes are coming and going with such mind-boggling speed that I’ve hardly had time to even upload the photos I managed to take of the culinary events that so underscore my life, what to speak of blog them.

But somehow or other, it seems that, for the moment, the asafetida-scented funk has cleared enough for me to compile at least a small photographic record of events that have so eluded reporting over the last few months.

So let’s begin with Gopals Vegetarian Restaurant. Two sets of classes have come and gone unreported, so here’s a few glimpses:

fun at Gopals:

The red hemp shirt means this was Sunday 25 July.

mr cheesey:

What’s a Kurma class without a succulent bundle of juicy-fresh-panir-cheese joy ?

another groaning banquet table:

And we all retire to the banquet table – the way of all good cookery classes.

curdlingly good fun:

And the black hemp shirt means this was way back in May. My friend Radha Caran was the photographer that day, so these are his images.

look at the camera:

I introduced my students to my friend behind the lens.

my ten-millionth batch of cheese:

Yes, everyone was very focused that day.

let the good times roll:

Rolling pin still-life.

And that wraps it up until tomorrow. Stay tuned for part two of The Ones That Got Away.

Raw Food, Part One: Kurma Moistens Vegan Snouts

Hello Blog-groupies! Yes, I am back from the blog-dead. And this is not a recycled-entry!

Things have been crazy-busy at Kurma Central, and a little weird. Anyway…Yesterday I googled myself. Admit it, you’ve all tried it. I did, and after sifting through some of the 226,000 entries, I struck edible gold.


Notwithstanding all the risque and self-indulgent bovine imagery, and the fact that my recipe has been improved, this is an interesting little website/blog entry, and worth a look.

There are a few entries actually, all loosely collected under the banner of raw-food/vegan dips. Although I am not a raw-food sorta guy, nor a vegan, a good number of my recipes do fit this description.

“What on earth are you rambling about?”, you snort.

Here, stop grunting, read this.

Of Mangoes, Men & Leadership


There was a man who liked to eat mangoes. One day he decided to get
the sweetest mango available, from the very top of the tree. Mangoes which are exposed to the sun the most are the sweetest.

So he climbed up to the top, where the branches were thin. He managed to pick up a few sweet reddish fruits, but, in an attempt to climb down, he slipped and started falling towards the ground. Fortunately, he caught the branch as he was falling and remained helplessly hanging on the tree. Then he started to call nearby villagers for help.

They immediately came with a ladder and sticks, but could do little to help him. Then after some time one calm and thoughtful person arrived – a well-known sage who lived in a simple hut nearby. People were very curious to see what he would do, as he was famous in solving many people

The Vegan School Lunch Box

school lunch:

Rohini from South Africa wrote:

“Do you have any vegan lunch box ideas for school kids?”

My reply: “Sorry this is too wide a subject for me to answer. I suggest you key in ‘vegan school lunch box’ to google search. Or check my cookbooks for recipes that are suitable or vegan-adaptable. Or check the recipes on my website.”

There is another alternative. Perhaps a reader of this blog can shed some light, or direct us to a suitable website.

Eggplant Pickles

famous eggplant:

Rohini from South Africa wrote asking me for an eggplant pickle recipe.
Here it is:

Hot & Sweet Eggplant Pickles

This tender and delicious pickle from Maharastra is simultaneously hot sweet and sour. Select firm fresh eggplants for best results. Makes 3 cups.

450g eggplants, about 3 medium,

½ cup peanut oil,

2 teaspoons finely minced ginger,

1 teaspoon yellow asafetida powder,

2 teaspoons salt,

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper,

½ cup apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice,

1 cup sugar,

2 teaspoons ground roasted cumin seeds.

Wash and dry the eggplants. Cut them into wedges, ensuring each wedge has some skin on it.

Heat the oil over moderate heat in a wok until fairly hot. Drop in the ginger and saute for 1 minute, or until aromatic. Sprinkle in the yellow asafetida powder, saute momentarily then add the eggplant, salt and cayenne. Stir-fry the eggplants constantly for about 10 minutes, or until the eggplants are soft enough to pierce with a knife.

Add the vinegar or lemon juice, and the sugar. Reduce the heat and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the eggplants are very tender. Sprinkle in the ground cumin seeds, and remove the pickle from the heat. Allow to cool then serve.


Karin from Northern Ireland asked me, last year (yes, this is a re-run; so sue me…):

“I hope that you are well. I keep seeing ground cardamom in recipes, how
exactly do I do this? do I remove the seeds from the pod or do I grind the pod
with the seeds. Sorry if this seems like a silly question. Love and light, Karin”

my favourite pods:

My reply:

No, it’s a reasonable question. I sometimes grind the whole pods in a sharp spice/coffee mill then rub it through a sieve and keep the powder, tossing away the bits of skin. This is especially useful when you need the powder from a large quantity of pods, like when making carrot halava for 800 people 😉 I guess it’s the lazy, quick, but wasteful way.

The slow, traditional and frugal way is to open the pods by hand, then grind the seeds. You can use a granite mortar and pestle for this if you like. Shop-bought cardamom powder is vastly inferior, by the way. Hope this helps, Kind regards, Kurma.

As an addenda, DevaDeva Dasi asked “you can buy the cardamom *whole* but out of the pods…do you disapprove of this practice, guruji?

I never answered that question. Sorry DevaDeva. Here it is: I am generally under-impressed with the quality of cardamom seeds available out of the pods. They tend to be of an inferior quality, and stale.

Having said that, I have on occasion found some excellent ones out of the pods – oily, shiny and very aromatic. They were obviously fresh. If you find cardamom seeds that appear to be of this quality, buy some in small quantity. In fact, beware of the ‘buying in bulk’ practice when it comes to all spices. They lose their flavour over time. Finally, my experience is that the greener the cardamom pods, the more aromatic they are.

We All Scream

we all scream for....:

S from London writes:

“Is it possible to make eggless ice cream at home? If yes, can I have a recipe for
vanilla ice cream?

My reply: “It is possible, yes. Here’s my recipe:

Quick and Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

The vanilla plant is an orchid which grows as a massive vine needing a frame or trellis to support it. The fruit takes the form of a long thin pod, containing a pulp in which is found a mass of minute black seeds. Each of the pods must be handpicked just before they are ripe enough to split open naturally. Then they are fermented to enable the pods to develop their concentration of vanillin crystals which are chiefly responsible for the unique, haunting perfumed flavour of vanilla.

The subtlety and delicacy of vanilla makes it a perpetual favourite. The vanilla required for this most popular ice cream is in the form of pure vanilla extract, available at gourmet food suppliers. Avoid imitation, or alcohol-based essences, usually found on supermarket shelves.



FREEZING TIME: 6-10 hours,

YIELD: about 4 cups (1 litre).

3 cups (750ml) whipping cream (up to 40 per cent milk fat),

1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract,

1 cup plus 1½ tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, 400g

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Remove the mixture from the refrigerator. Beat the mixture until it holds firm peaks. Spoon into a metal freezer container and freeze for 6-10 hours, or until firm. Return the ice cream to the refrigerator to soften slightly before serving.