A Meat Eater's Delight
by Kurma Dasa
In 1996 Kurma published a seven-hundred page book on the
history of the Hare Krishna Movement in Australia entitled “The
Great Transcendental Adventure”. The book also serves as a
biography of the movement’s founder and Acharya, His Divine
Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, affectionately known as Srila Prabhupada.
The following essay is an excerpt from that book.
Tuesday 25 June, 1974.
Dipak had volunteered for the service of cooking lunch for Prabhupada
during his visit to Melbourne. Yet Dipak, usually a proficient cook,
was today not his usual confident self. He was nervously dropping
butter on the floor, sliding chapatis off the stove and boiling
over the milk when he noticed Srila Prabhupada at the kitchen door.
Prabhupada, standing bare-chested after his bath, was smiling
as he watched Dipak’s attempts to cook lunch. Returning to
his room, Srila Prabhupada applied the sacred marks of Vaisnava
tilaka with great attention and sat, head slightly back, to chant
his noon-time Gayatri mantra prayers.
Meanwhile, Dipak was coming to the end of a very chaotic morning
in the kitchen. He quickly poured freshly-squeezed lemon juice into
the pot of steaming hot basmati rice, spooned out a generous serving,
adjusted the bowls of dal and vegetables, popped on a couple of
hot chapatis and raced the plate into Prabhupada’s room.
Prabhupada sat on a low cushion behind his glass-topped table, on
the white-linen-covered floor. He nodded appreciatively as Dipak
placed the plate on the table, offered respects and quickly exited.
Feeling relieved that lunch was on time, Dipak returned to the kitchen
to clean up the scene of devastation. He especially hoped that Srila
Prabhupada would enjoy the rice today. He had recently heard, although
he couldn’t remember where from, that Prabhupada liked lemon
juice on it.
Satsvarupa Goswami, Prabhupada’s secretary for this visit,
broke Dipak’s daydream. “Dipak! Srila Prabhupada would
like to see you.” Dipak wiped his hands and rushed into the
Prabhupada was looking up inquisitively. “What is the matter
with this?” he asked, pointing to the untouched mound of rice
on his plate. “It is sour!” Dipak stumbled out an answer.
“Oh... er... I put lemon juice on it, Srila Prabhupada.”
Prabhupada looked disappointed. Dipak volunteered to cook more.
“No,” Srila Prabhupada answered. “Bring some milk
Srila Prabhupada sprinkled sugar all over the rice, poured on the
milk, and took it as dessert. After lunch, Prabhupada again called
Dipak into his room. “Tomorrow,” he reassured, “I
will teach you how to cook.”
Next day Srila Prabhupada entered the kitchen around mid-morning.
Despite Melbourne’s cold winter, the sun shone brightly through
the windows of the little kitchen. Prabhupada stood without his
shirt, his soft, golden skin glowing. He looking serious; his mood
was that of an instructor. Forewarned, the devotees were peering
in through the back screen door and peeping through the windows
to witness the exciting event.
Prabhupada expertly directed the whole scene. Step-by-step, he taught
the timeless cooking art by demonstration: “Cut like this...
add this much... fry like this...” All the while, Prabhupada
cooked with silent concentration, cleaning the stove and sink after
each step, and periodically checking his wrist watch.
The crisp, white cauliflowerets and cream-colored potato chunks
were cut to size. Next they were placed in one compartment of Prabhupada’s
shiny three-tiered brass cooker, the same one that he had brought
to America in 1965, which sat on the small square stove. The rice
and water were placed in another compartment; mung beans, water
and turmeric in the third.
“Turmeric,” Prabhupada pointed out, “is a blood
Today he would show Dipak a special rich vegetable dish. He directed
Dipak to cut eggplants into very large cubes, almost five centimetres
square. Panir cheese, which Dipak had made earlier,was cut into
similarly sized chunks. (click here
for a recipe for panir cheese) The potatoes were cut only
slightly smaller. All were deep-fried in small batches in the pan
of fresh, hot clarified butter, ghee. Prabhupada stressed that the
panir cheese had to be cooked until very dark brown. There was no
joking and no talking other than these serious instructions.
Dipak’s chapati dough had been too dry and hard, so Srila
Prabhupada made another batch which he had subsequently submerged
in a bowl of water. Draining off the water and kneading in a little
more atta flour, Prabhupada indicated the correct consistency: “As
soft as your ear-lobe,” he said, squeezing his own left ear
When the vegetables and panir cubes were all fried, Srila Prabhupada
heated some ghee in a saucepan and deftly sprinkled-in cumin seeds
and crushed red chillies. As the spices darkened, he added a sprinkle
of asafoetida and turmeric, and a little crushed fresh tomato. The
pan hissed and sizzled, especially when Prabhupada poured in a few
cups of fresh whey, the liquid residue from the panir cheese. He
slid the potatoes and panir cubes into the pan, followed by the
eggplant and salt, and simmered them slowly.
Next he heated another small pan, added some ghee and spices and
the cooked potatoes and cauliflower from the steamer, and briefly
sautéed them, pouring in a little water to form a gravy which
thickened and stuck to form a sizzling crust. Ghee was heated in
a third little pan, and cumin, chilli and whole coriander seeds
were heated, browned, and thrown crackling into the smooth, yellow
dal soup. Srila Prabhupada finally spooned off the whole spice seeds
from the simmering dal, then left for his massage and bath.
After bathing, he re-entered the kitchen and cooked the first few
chapatis which all obediently ballooned, emitting little puffs of
steam as they reached their bursting point.
Everything was done in exactly one and a half hours, including the
massage and bathing. Srila Prabhupada finally sat down, the cooking
class completed, and prepared to take his lunch.
Pointing to the large, rich, dark chunks of fried panir cheese,
now puffed and juicy from slow simmering in seasoned gravy, he smiled
and looked up at Dipak. “You should cook this for the meat-eaters.
They will very much appreciate. It is a ‘meat-eater’s
For the cooks at the Melbourne branch of Srila Prabhupada’s
International Society for Krsna Consciousness, this was an historic
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