Gulab Jamuns, Potato Puffs and My Vow of Silence

I’m back in Perth and, despite being seriously sleep-deprived after the last three days round-the-clock ecstatic events (and a hellish flight back from Melbourne) I’m feeling pretty blissful.

I led some rip-roaring Hare Krishna Mantra chanting (kirtan) for 3 hours on the Tuesday night with 500 others, and as a result I completely lost my voice. The kirtan was professionally recorded, so it might be available for streaming via my blog some time in the future. But for now, I sound like a croaking frog. Rebittt!

It seems that 8000 guests attended the Janmastami event on Tuesday, and as usual, the festival was impeccably organised with 500 volunteers coordinating the smooth running of all the events. I’ve got some nice photos and more to say about my Melbourne time.

prabhupada's birthday:

Yesterday I helped cook for the modest crowd of 750 guests who attended the birthday party for our preceptor Srila Prabhupada.

One of my tasks was preparing gulab jamuns, tender syrup-soaked dumplings scented with rose and cardamom. We prepared 1200, and below is photographic proof. There’s a closeup of just one-quarter of the batch. That’s right, we cooked 8 giant woks full.

ghee meister:

But with my friend and fellow cook Radha Caran (pictured above) mixing the ingredients, filling the woks with ghee, boiling the syrup (300 litres) and always close at hand (plus of course 10 Indian IT graduates rolling the balls of soft dough) we completed the task in 3 hours! Is that a record, or what?

the gulab hut:

There’s 150 in each wok, being fried in golden fragrant ghee before their syrupy drenching.

its raining gulabs:

Now I must tackle the immediate priorities – getting myself geared up for this coming weekend’s cookery classes. And getting my voice back!

Meanwhile, here’s a letter I received just now:

Amy writes:

Yum! I have to say those Alu Vadas (pictured in yesterday’s blog) look really yummy! Where can I get a recipe for them? (please?)

My reply:

From me. Here it is. For even crisper results, add 1 tablespoon oil into the batter. Eat these when hot and crispy. The balls and dry batter mix can keep and wait until you are ready serve – then add water to the batter and fry as soon as possible…

potatoes for mashing:

Mashed Potato Puffs (Alu Vadas)

These are a favourite savoury item from Gujarat state on India’s west coast. They’re a good example of simple, tasty vegetarian “finger food”. Most of the time spent to prepare these puffs lies in mashing and spicing the potatoes. The frying time is very quick because, even though they’re cooked in a batter, the filling is already precooked, the wafer-thin crust cooking in only minutes. Serve Alu Vadas with Coconut Chutney (or fresh mint chutney or date and tamarind chutney) for a tasty treat. This recipe makes about 18 alu vadas.

Potato Filling

2½ cups mashed potatoes, cooled
2 hot green chilies, seeded and chopped
½ teaspoon shredded fresh ginger
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped raisins
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coconut or desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander leaves


¼ cup chickpea flour
¼ cup rice flour
¼ cup self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon ground ajowan seeds
1 teaspoon yellow asafoetida powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
about 1 cup very cold water
ghee or oil for deep-frying

Mix the mashed potatoes with the other potato filling ingredients and roll into 18 balls, or as many as you want, large or small.

Combine the 3 flours, spices, and salt in a mixing bowl. Adding water, whisk the batter to make a smooth, slightly thick pouring-consistency batter.

Heat ghee or oil for deep-frying in a wok or deep-frying pan over moderately high heat until it reaches 180°C/355°F. Dip 5 or 6 balls in the batter and carefully slip them into the hot oil.

Deep-fry, turning gently after they float to the surface, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the puffs turn golden brown and crisp. Remove and drain them on paper towels. Repeat for the remainder of the balls. Serve immediately.
Posted by Kurma on 6/9/07; 10:23:45 AM

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