Category Archives: Cooking!

Boy Scout Fry Out

Come an emergency, all good boy scouts must know how to: start a fire, tie a reef knot, send messages in morse code, and frankly, knowing how to make puris and pakoras comes in handy in a spot of trouble too.

The other night our whole family was invited to Mali’s scout group to show them how to cook up a full Indian meal: rice, pakoras, puris, chutney, matar panir and halava. The scout leader had been to the temple and wanted the boys to get the full experience!

It was so much fun. Hyperactive boys + hot oil + messy ingredients is always a recipe for excitement, and these boys didn’t disappoint. My team was making puris, and within minutes they were beating up the dough to within an inch of its life, and rolling the puris into hearts, faces, and quite a few unmentionables too (much to their delight when they puffed up).

At the end of the evening, they all lined up for the tasting, jostling and elbowing to go first. My dad said a prayer, and we served until the pots were empty. One boy came up for four helpings of halava, and said he wished he could eat it everyday. Give him a few years – he’ll probably end up living in the temple.

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Prema Yogi’s Fantabulous Ekadasi Muffins

Some people freak out on ekadasi – that fortnightly fast day where all grains, beans (and apparently anything worth eating) are avoided. Not me. Sometimes I think ekadasi is the best day of all, especially when I get to make recipes like this. I have been wanting to make these muffins ever since Prema Yogi, our intrepid chef, roadie, yogi and generally talented guy, made them for us on the Australian leg of the Mantralogy tour a couple of months ago.

I got up at 5am this morning to make them for my sister, who headed off to Mexico this morning. Bye bye Tuls!

The recipe is of course gluten free, and originally vegan, though you can substitute the coconut cream for yoghurt as I did (apparently coco cream is harder to buy than I thought.) They come out surprisingly fluffy, irresistibly moist, and punched with dates and berries.

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1 1/2 cups almond or hazelnut meal
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup raw sugar

400ml coconut cream
3/4 cup sunflower or macadamia oil (tastes better)
1 cup softened dates (simmered in enough water to cover then drained) or soft medjool dates – diced
1 punnet diced strawberries
1 punnet blueberries
3 medium bananas mashed
1 tsp vanilla essence (imitation on ekadasi)

Mix the dry ingredients together.
Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.
Add the dry to the wet gradually until well combined, then place into muffin pans, filling almost to the top.
Bake at 175 degrees celsius till risen and browned; roughly 20 mins. They should bounce back a little when pressed with your finger.

And if you want to know where Prema Yogi gets the power to create such great recipes, here’s a clip of him doing his other thing:

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The Edible Schoolyard

I read the Chronicle Books Blog, on which this was posted this morning. I find it so inspiring, and I think it’s so important to cultivate these kinds of projects in all communities. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are inextricably linked to nature, gardening and cooking, and I think that I’m a better, more environmentally aware person for it.

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Triple Ginger Cookies!

I just made these cookies from a recipe on 101 Cookbooks.com. I’ve been meaning to for ages but it took me a while to collect the ingredients. Some, like star anise and crystallised ginger, took a teensy bit of extra effort. They came out great though. Of course, I substituted the egg for a guestimated amount of yoghurt.

Give them a try!

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Snow-vardhana

Today was covered in snow, frozen hard overnight into stiff clumps on lawns and windscreens, but at the temple, the warmth of Vrindavan permeated the air as we gathered to celebrate Govardhan Puja. I often wonder whether I should explain what these festivals are on this blog. Most of the time, I conclude not, since I assume it tends to mainly be read by Hare Krishnas, or those somewhat in the know. So forgive me for not detailing why I spent the day today blissfully worshipping a hill made of sweet, toasted semolina and cookies, or why I took half an hour out to dance around some cows and cover them in coloured powder, or even why I traipsed through the slush outside from morning to afternoon, dressed in a sari (note to self – not designed for the climes of the Northern Hemisphere). I probably don’t even have to explain why, after a badly made decision to start the arati to Govardhan Hill ahead of time, (meaning many missed it completely) I spent the next fifteen minutes picking my way through the waterlogged grass that surrounded the perimeter of the festival marquee in a last attempt to circumambulate Giriraj (who was simultaneously being dismantled, sweet by delicious sweet).

It’s a far cry from my Govardhan Puja last year, which I spent within a stone’s throw of Sri Govardhan himself. I didn’t get to walk all the way around him on that day, but I did when I went back this year, in March. As I walked barefoot in the still cool morning air, my heart leapt with joy. These feelings are so hard to express. How can I explain why walking around a hill made me so happy? How can I explain why the sight of those beautiful variegated rocks, visible between the thick layer of flowering trees made my heart sing? Or why the jagged calls of the local parrots and peacocks spoke of so much more than just plain birdsong? The walk around the hill took an entire morning; just walking, chanting and walking, feeling the sand slowly heat up underfoot. The beauty of the path was unexpected – bougainvillea burst from all sides, and the stretches of forest were punctuated by tiny temples, their sole inhabitants always ready with a greeting or a gift.

Last night I remembered this walk as I painted cakes to be offered on the altar, painting one with a vague memory of this scene.

I feel so grateful to be given opportunities like this, to remember Krishna and his pastimes. It’s fuel in the truest sense – as healing as medicine, and as relishable as honey. I am so lucky to be a Hare Krishna – does that need an explanation?

Krishna knows how to dress for the season…

See more pictures! Bhaktivedanta Manor Deity Darshan

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The Night of a Thousand Deaths

Fresh from the succulent success of my first pie, and inspired by the honed expertise of Sabjimata, I decided to make some jam on impulse last night. I had been wanting to for a long time, but when I absentmindedly glanced through a mail order clothing catalogue, and happened upon a blackberry jam recipe, I took it to be a serendipitous sign.

Recipes turn up in the least likely places…

There were bad omens from the start, not that I took much heed, breezing around the kitchen as if I were a seasoned jam queen. First of all, I found I didn’t have enough blackberries, having used some on my pie. I am extremely challenged when it comes to maths and I was completely unable to do the calculations to adapt the recipe. I thought I was stumped (in hindsight, I wish I had been). I suddenly remembered that my mum had frozen some of the last of our summer raspberries, and I fished them out of the freezer. Lo and behold! They made up the exact weight that I needed! So far, so auspicious. Or so I thought…

Raspberries to the rescue!

Everything was straightforward for a while. I started boiling…

I found some stowaway strawberries along the way – don’t know when they jumped in…

I watched over it carefully, scooping off the scum and trying to send positive energy and prayers into the pot! I got all excited listening to the 24 hour kirtan from New Vrindavan this year. Then Mali came home from scouts and kept me company while the boil continued.

I rushed back and forth between the fridge and the pot, doing the chilled plate test every few minutes to test if it had reach the correct setting point. I boiled, and boiled, and boiled. I started to get a creeping feeling that something was wrong when I did the test four times and it was always too runny. I let it boil a little longer and it began to thicken slightly. Finally, I tested it again and it wrinkled on the plate – time to finish up! It looked good, and I felt triumphant. There had been no need for nerves, it had come out all right!

The scene of the crime.

Hot jam dropped into jar after jar as I screwed on each lid tightly and lined them up on the counter. They looked so perfect and beautiful. But, twas a mere illusion.

This morning, I was eager to take out a cooled jar and see how it set. I stuck in a knife. Hard. Sticky. My heart plummeted. This is exactly what happened the last time I made jam. My mum looked over my shoulder, examining the disastrous result. She wasn’t too pleased. I shouldn’t have chosen that point to mention that I used most of the last raspberries. Oops.

I feel silly to say it, but since I like to write honestly, I found it hard to chant properly this morning. My heart actually ached for the wasted fruit and sugar. I know it’s just as bad as crying over spilt milk – I just hate wasting things.

So, all those little berries gave their lives in vain; and the thousandth death? My camera, which I dropped whilst trying to take a picture of my beautiful jars of jam. It is now completely defunct, after having miraculously survived the extreme dust of both Vrindavan and Burning Man. That will teach me to try and blog about cooking.

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3.14159265…

My first ever pie!

Proud parent and raw child.

Mama Piemaster herself shows how it’s done.

Yay! Cooked! And offered to Krishna (wooohoo)…

In case you were wondering, it’s blackberry and apple.

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