Remembering Yamuna – Butter-soft Eggplant Wedges (Bhona Baigan Bhaji)

To help celerbate the cooking life of Yamuna Devi, here’s more serialising of recipes by my cooking guru, Yamuna Devi! Before attempting to cook any of her recipes, make sure you are aware of the difference between US measures and Australian/metric measures. See below*

baigun bhaji bliss.jpg:

Srila Prabhupada gave us this recipe during his 1967 San Francisco classes. In Bengal, bhaji is loosely defined as any fried vegetable, and while this variation has other names, such as eggplant Puki, one thing is constant: it must be served immediately after cooking, piping hot.

To get authentic results, I recommend using fresh ghee; my second choice would be a newcomer on the market

108-Course Feast Menu from Yamuna Devi

The Art of Bhakti Yoga includes cooking for God. Great yogi-cooks have prepared an astonishing array of amazing dishes in temples for countless millenia, and attained the Perfection of Yoga by infusing their cookery with Bhakti-love.

3008 dishes:

To give you an idea of the unlimited scope of this, the photo above is a temple somewhere in India with an array of 3008 different vegetarian dishes offered for a special feast day.

Of course, the Bhakti process is qualitative, not quantitative; yet if one can combine quality and quantity, the results can be truly stunning.

I think this is a very appropriate time to share this with you. Yamuna Devi, who passed away yesterday, compiled (and cooked!) this astonishing 108-course lunch menu a few years back. I am unsure of the details where and when exactly, but it is surely an amazing kitchen-yoga of love.

Yamuna Devi’s Lunchtime Raja Bhoga Lunch Offering of 108 Varieties.

nice pic Yamuna:

1 – Cauliflower pakora with besan batter and nigella seeds,

2 – Spinach leaf pakora with besan batter and almond bits,

3 – Shredded cabbage and carrot with besan batter with lots of fresh ginger,

4 – Panir pakori – cubed panir first dipped in podina chutney and then in
thickish besan batter with crushed coriander seed,

5 – Panir tomato pakora – thick slices panir sandwiched between cherry
tomato slices in besan masala batter,

6 – Assorted mixed hot chili pakori,

7 – Srila Prabhupada’s 1967 recipe for cauliflower and pea samosa,

8 – Potato sringara – Bengali style log-shaped potato samosa,

9 – Green pea kachori,

10 – Fruit kachori – stuffed with paste of ground nuts and dried fruits,

11 – Srila Prabupada’s 1967 pineapple and raisin chutney,

12 – Bengali sweet and hot tomato chutney,

13 – South Indian coconut chutney,

14 – Fresh coriander chutney with fresh yogurt,

15 – Dhaniya-podina chutney,

16 – Plain podina chutney,

17 – Panir crumbled with sauteed capsicum, cabbage, and tomato with haldi,
ginger and oregano,

18 – Panir slices fried crispy and combined with seasoned rainbow chard sak,

19 – Panir cubes, fried petite pois in minted tomato sauce with sour cream and
dhaniya,

20 – Panir fingers fried and baked with capsicum, eggplant and tomato,

21 – Panir dice, tomato dice, okra and shredded cabbage cooked until dry with red
chili, dhaniya, chat masala and fresh dhaniya added at the end,

22 – Eggplant slices dipped in besan with masala and shallow fried in ghee until
richly browned,

23 – Sweet and sour baby eggplant,

24 – Dry diced okra with masala,

25 – Almond masala stuffed whole okra fried in ghee,

26 – Melt in your mouth sweet diced karela with freshly shredded coconut,

27 – Green beans with almonds,

28 – Corn kernels with methi sak,

29 – Srila Prabhupada’s cauliflower and tomato ras,

30 – Shukta,

31 – Lafra vyanjana – Lord Chaitanya’s favorite dish,

32 – Baked eggplant parmigiana,

33 – Squash puree,

34 – Rounds of fresh corn on the cob in thickish besan karhi, circa 1968,

35 – Srila Prabhupada’s pakori cuddy,

36 – Zucchini au gratin,

37 – Fried green tomatoes,

38 – Fried cauliflower in a tomato gravy with cream,

39 – Aloo tikki,

40 – Plain buttered rice,

41 – Mixed vegetable pulau,

42 – Lemon rice,

43 – Tamarind rice,

44 – Dadhodya – rice with yogurt, mustard seed and curry leaf chaunck,

45 – Vine leaves stuffed with currants, pista, badam and brushed with a lemon
glaze,

46 – Split mung and basmati vegetable kitcheree,

47 – Whole mung and brown basmati vegetable kitcheree,

48 – Quinoa pulau,

49 – Barley risotto with winter squash,

50 – Barley flakes with shredded cabbage,

51 – Amaranth pulau,

52 – Pan-fried savoy cabbage, jack cheese, polenta squares with fresh tomato sauce,

53 – Leafy green salad with almond cream dressing,

54 – Cabbage, cucumber, tomato, grapes, apple in salt and lemon,

55 – Micro-shredded cabbage and fresh ginger with salt and lemon,

56 – Moong sprouts, cucumber, tomato and pomegranate with salt lemon and fresh
coriander,

57 – Diced potato and green bean salad with home made mayonaisse,

58 – Cubed potato and shredded carrot salad with tarragon mayonaisse,

59 – Sweet potato salad with raisins and orange bell peppers in honey dressing,

60 – Rocket leaves with pears and toasted candied walnuts,

61 – Mixed baby tomatoes with fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil,

62 – Cucumber and strawberry slices with orange vinaigrette,

63 – Chilled strawberry mango papaya pomegranate apple orange mossambi grapes
condensed milk,

64 – Fruit chat plate with chat masala,

65 – Shredded carrot and soaked urad dal with salt and lemon juice,

66 – Corn salad,

67 – Zuchinni and sprout salad,

68 – Cubed cucumber, sun-dried olives, cubed tomatoes with olive oil and herbs,

69 – Boondi raita,

70 – Diced cucumber and tomato raita,

71 – Sweet potato raita,

72 – Pineapple raita,

73 – Apple & date raita,

74 – Shredded cucumber raita with ground peanuts in thick yogurt,

75 – Chole – thickish gravy with chick peas and tomato slices,

76 – Rajma – kidney beans in thick seasoned tomato sauce with sour cream,

77 – Makhni dal – creamy urad dal finished off with cream,

78 – Srila Prabhupada’s daily mung dal,

79 – Five mixed dal,

80 – Toor and chana dal – chaunked in ghee or butter with fresh neem and cumin,

81 – Thick whole mung with seasonal vegetables,

82 – Soldier beans,

83 – Black runner beans,

84 – Black beans,

85 – Baby limas with sauteed mixed bell peppers and marjoram,

86 – Sambar,

87 – North Indian karhi with chick peas,

88 – Plain gujarati karhi,

89 – Karhi with drumstick,

90 – Plain chapati,

91 – Beet chapati,

92 – Methi chapati thepla,

93 – Celery chapati,

94 – Mango chapati,

95 – Papaya chapati,

96 – Orange date paratha,

97 – Lime ginger paratha,

98 – Stuffed radish paratha,

99 – Stuffed panir paratha,

100 – Stuffed mashed potato, cheddar and oregano and cilanto paratha,

101 – Stuffed cheese paratha,

102 – Stuffed carrot paratha,

103 – Stuffed cauliflower,

104 – Chickpea paratha,

105 – Naan,

106 – Roomali roti: like lavash – a chewy, soft, naturally fermented flat bread,

107 – Spiral cinnamon paratha,

108 – Masala puris.

Yamuna Devi Passes Away

With great sadness I’d like to inform you that my godsister, Yamuna Devi, passed away in Florida yesterday, 20 December local time.

yamuna:

Yamuna inspired me with her wonderful cooking, her inspirational cookbooks and her pure hearted devotion to our beloved Srila Prabhupada and his mission. May she attain the kitchens of Srimati Radharani.

Please absorb yourself in remembering her by hearing her wonderful singing and watching this video. Hare Krishna.

Pineapple Chutney

I don’t know about you, but I just love cooking chutneys and jams. Perhaps it’s something I inherited from my mother, who always seemed to be preserving or making marmalade.

Mrs Uma Balachandran from UK writes:

“Dear Kurma Das, In this winter season the pineapples are sour to eat as raw. I like to make chutney. Kindly write me a pineapple chutney recipe.”

My reply:

Here’s a recipe from my first cookbook. However, I do find that ripe and sweet pineapples make a much better chutney than unripe. I guess it depends on your definition of chutney. This is definitely a spicy, jam-like chutney, as opposed to a raw, lightly seasoned one.

fresh pineapples for chutney:

I like to use the Bethonga or ‘Roughie‘ variety of pineapple grown in Northern regions of Australia. They are smaller and have intensely golden flesh and are very very sweet and flavoursome. Avoid pale insipid pineapples.

Pineapple Chutney

Pineapple chutney should be “too hot to bear, but too sweet to resist”. This recipe yields about 2 cups.

3 tablespoons ghee (or oil)

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

4 broken dried red chilies, sliced fresh chilies, or as desired

1 large, sweet and ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and diced

1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2/3 cup – 1 cup (depending on the size of the pineapple) raw sugar

1/3 cup raisins

Heat the ghee or oil in a 2-quart/litre heavy-based saucepan over moderate heat until it is hot but not smoking.

Saute the cumin seeds in the hot ghee until they slightly darken. Add the chilies and cook until golden brown, or aromatic using fresh chilies.

Add the pineapple pieces, ground cinnamon, and cloves. Gently boil the chutney, stirring occasionally, over moderate heat until the pineapple becomes soft and the juice evaporates. Stir constantly as the preparation nears completion. This stage can take some time since pineapple does not easily break down.

When the saucepan is dry and the pineapple starts to stick on the bottom, add the sugar and raisins and cook until thick and jam-like. Serve at room temperature.

Happy Birthday Cupcakes

I made some cupcakes for my son Nitai’s 15th birthday. Here they are. Well, the cyber version, at least.

latest cupcakes:

In all fairness, it wouldn’t be right to leave you hanging without a recipe. In actuality though, I made them from left-over cake batter from the birthday cake, which, alas, I forgot to photograph. But it did look a bit like this former model, baked last year.

imitation carob cake:

But don’t fret, here’s the foolproof recipe for the cake. I’d say the quantities would make at least a couple dozen standard-sized cupcakes.

That’s a vanilla butter icing on top (of the cupcakes) not cream. I whipped up room temperature butter, pure vanilla extract and icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) for that, but I misplaced my piping bag. So I went for the rugged look.

Here’s my original recipe for the cake from my first cookbook. I tweaked this recipe, using a ganache instead of the icing (using melted Lindt 50% dark + heavy cream) and an organic Colombian cocoa powder inside the cake instead of carob.

Carob Fudge Cake

This two-tiered carob cake is light in texture without the use of any eggs. The cake’s light texture is due to the slightly soured milk. Filled and iced with Carob Vienna Icing, it is an irresistible dessert.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 30 minutes

Makes: 1 two-tiered 20 cm (8-inch) carob fudge cake

125g (4 ounces) butter, room temperature

1 cup caster sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup carob powder

½ cup hot water

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup milk

1 2/3 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

pinch salt

Carob Vienna Icing

Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Blend the carob powder in the hot water and mix to a smooth paste. Gradually add the carob mixture to the butter and sugar mixture.

Add the lemon juice to the milk to sour it.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt and add it to the creamed mixture alternately with sour milk. Mix thoroughly.

Spoon the cake mixture into two buttered 20 cm (8-inch) cake tins and bake in a moderate oven 180°C/355°F for 30 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed.

Allow the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes. Turn out and allow to cool completely. Fill and ice with Carob Vienna Icing. You may also wish to layer in some whipped cream and strawberry jam, or cherry jam, along with sour cherries, to round out the sensual experience.

Carob Vienna Icing

125 g (4 ounces) butter

2½ cups icing sugar

4 tablespoons carob powder

2 tablespoons hot water

Beat the butter until creamy.

Sift the sugar.

Blend the carob powder with the hot water.

Add the icing sugar to the butter alternately with the carob mixture until it reaches a spreading consistency.

Disbelief as Russia Plans to Ban the Bhagavad-gita

I remember well those wonderful days in 1974 as I sat before my Spiritual Master Srila Prabhupada and heard discourses on the ancient Bhagavad-gita, beloved by Emerson and Thoreau, as the sun rose over the tiny terrace-house Temple in Burnett Street, St Kilda in Melbourne (pictured below).

Srila Prabhupada Speaks on Bhagavad-gita:

The world moves in mysterious ways. Russia came down hard on religious expression throughout the 80’s and 90’s, but recently it has seemed to become more fair-minded. It’s all the more hard to believe then that Bhagavad-gita As It Is, one of the most respected holy scriptures of the world today, is now under the threat of being banned in Russia.

Read this explanation and plea from Russian citizen, senior scholar and Hare Krishna devotee Bhakti Vijnana Goswami:

“Today we received the testimony of the experts from Kemerovo State
University
. As it should have been expected, it is highly negative.

We uploaded the petition. Please feel free to
share this link.

Please find below the text of the petition. On the site it is both in
Russian and English.

Bhagavad-gita As It Is, one of the most respected holy scriptures of
the world today, is under the threat of being banned in Russia.

The court proceedings will resume in Siberian city Tomsk, Russia, on
Monday 19th December. The persecutors in Tomsk suggest that the widely
distributed book translated and commented upon by A. C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada should be included in the Justice Ministry