Bendigo Bliss

I’m back in Sydney after an intense weekend of cookery travel to Melbourne and Bendigo.

On Thursday I rested in one of the very comfortable guest rooms of the famous Melbourne branch of the Hare Krishna Movement in Albert Park (one of the most beautiful temples in the southern hemisphere). I awoke at 3.00am refreshed and ready to seize the day.

Gauranga and Nityananda:

What better way to equip myself for a busy weekend than a dose of early-morning kirtan (chanting) in the beautiful marble inner sanctum of the temple, starting with the first inspirational mangala-arati at 4.30am.

sri Radha- Vallabha:

This daily six-part festival schedule has been going on uninterrupted, every single day since the temple was inaugurated on 18 May 1975. That’s 33 years non-stop.

Jagannatha swami:

Uddhava, Adam and Glenn are coming to the grand-finale of a very ecstatic kirtan. Adam is jumping up and down so fast he’s just a blur.

the bliss of chanting:

At lunchtime on Friday, myself and Srikant, my designated driver drove to Bendigo, a painless two-hour affair on the highway.

We shopped in the evening and set up the venue for the Saturday morning. That’s when we met our crew, in the very picturesque country setting for La Trobe University student accomodation. Many of them are staff members on campus.

Manoj had spent months arranging this event, and everyone was very thankful for his dogged determination, precision management skills and his personable demeanour.

pressing the panir:

We’ve just making yet another batch of wonderful, juicy panir cheese. Above I’m twisting the cheesecloth with the fresh hot cheese inside before pressing. This fresh batch was produced on the spot from 8 litres of unhomogenised organic cows’ milk.

The chunk theory:

Fifteen minutes later…. After explaining about just how versatile it is, I cut the still-warm round into quarters.

slicing some fresh panir:

We sliced the cheese further, garnished some squeaky, succulent chunks with generous drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt flakes, freshly cracked peppercorns and parsley, ready for an impromptu tasting.

garnish with fresh herbs:

Our enthusiastic team dove into their tasks with great enthusiasm. Here’s a trio of ladies, including mother-and-daughter team Wendy and Hayley (in matching aprons, no less) grating fresh coconut for our classic South Indian Lemon Rice.

coconut graters:

What a weekend! I am often asked, usually around the dinner table, ‘Do you ever get tired of this, Kurma?’ I certainly get tired, but not tired of cooking and teaching. I’ve been sharing my cookery skills since 1979. I’m fast-approaching my three-thousandth class; I calculated that I’ve personally taught over 40,000 students. I never take for granted how blessed I am, and I don’t regret a moment of the last 30 years.
Posted by Kurma on 7/7/08; 5:05:18 AM

Life and Travel

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