138. My 2nd year of cooking with Kurma – Part 6

Part 6 – The eating !
(The final article on this topic)

The guests looked visibly happy. The food was made. They did it ! They all seemed proud and by now Chef Kurma was like their best friend. One group quickly began to gather plates, bowls and cutlery for the table. A few others helped in transferring the food into large utensils. Below are pics of what we made along with some comments from Kurma’s notes.

Moghul-style Cumin-flavoured Rice

Moghul-style Cumin-flavoured Rice

This quick to prepare, aromatic rice dish inspired by India’s Moghul cuisine is flavoured with both whole and ground cumin, and is made even more aromatic with the addition of cloves and cinnamon. The sweet addition of raisins in a savoury dish is typical of Moghul taste.

Mixed Veg in Creamy Gujarati-style Karhi Sauce

Mixed Veg in Creamy Gujarati-style Karhi Sauce

Karhi is an excellent source of vegetarian protein – yogurt, a complete protein combines with the chickpea flour – an incomplete protein that becomes complete in conjunction with yogurt. Karhi is delicious, light and easy to digest, and good for you – what more could you ask !

Punjabi-style Tomatoes, Peas and Home-made Curd Cheese

Punjabi-style Tomatoes, Peas and Home-made Curd Cheese

This dish originates in Punjab, northern India. However, its is well known all over India and there are hundreds of variations of the same dish. Here’s a delicious version that can be served with any meal, anytime. It especially lends itself to special feasts and dinners and can be kept warm for some time, actually improving the flavour of the dish.

Hot, Sweet, Spicy and Sour Eggplant Pickles

Hot, Sweet, Spicy and Sour Eggplant Pickles

This tender and delicious pickle from Maharastra is simultaneously hot, sweet and sour. Select firm fresh eggplants for best results.

Sweet and Sour Toor Dal Soup with Vegetables

Sweet and Sour Toor Dal Soup with Vegetables

This creamy, smooth dal soup with its pleasant lemony taste and chunks of butter-soft vegetables is ideal as a tasty accompaniment to either a simple or elaborate menu.

Gujarati Fenugreek-Scented Pumpkin Curry

Gujarati Fenugreek-Scented Pumpkin Curry

This dish proves just how delicious pumpkin can be if teamed up with the correct flavour partners. Succulent Gujarati Pumpkin is excellent served with farm flatbreads.

Green Salad

Green Salad

The salad is a welcome addition and gives it a different feel to a table full of Indian dishes. People enjoyed mixing the salad with their poories and rice. The most popular dish in both the classes went to the eggplant pickle ! And that includes me too !

My plate

My plate

And that’s my plate there with a serving of everything. I had 3 of these ! And for 2 days !

The Bundoora suburb guests

The "Bundoora" suburb guests

The Bendigo city guests

The "Bendigo" city guests

What an experience ! From zero guests to almost 30 guests ! If you put your efforts with determination and confidence in yourself, your seniors and the beautiful Lord, it’s bound to go well. My special thanks to all the above strangers who enabled me to carry out this service. The fact that they are enjoying delicious food prepared by our cherished and senior devotee Chef Kurma Das, tells me that these are special people. In fact, anyone who takes the effort to honor food prepared by exalted vaishnavas are indeed special.

The cookbooks

The cookbooks

More and more people need to get these books on vegetarian cooking. They need to know that such cooking is not always about eating cold sandwiches and cold salads. Not only is it fun to cook delicious vegetarian preparations but it also brings with it fond memories for the entire family.

In the forewords of one of the above cookbooks, the President of the International Vegetarian Union, Mr. Howard F. Lyman writes, ” Kurma has provided a great way to start the rest of your life. It is not about being perfect. It is about doing better tomorrow than you did today. This book will enable you to be part of the solution and less part of the problem. Read, prepare, and enjoy great food with Kurma’s help. And, remember, starting with fresh organically-grown produce from local family farmers is always the first step toward recovery for both you and the planet.” 

And what message did Kurma prabhu give me? Well, he presented me with one of his cook books, “Cooking with Kurma – More Great Vegetarian Dishes” and on the first page he wrote :

“Manoj,
Chant, Cook, Take Prasad and Be Happy
Your Humble Servant
KURMA”

Dear Kurma prabhu,
Thank you so much for all the efforts and patience you put in over the 2 days with me and the guests. Your excitement was contagious and I am sure their life has been affected. You worked so hard for us.

Results have already started to show. The 2 cafes are looking at introducing recipes from your book to their customers, once a week. I hope this falls in place soon. Once it’s in place, this will be a great achievement where hundreds will be introduced to your cooking and methods. Another 2 guests have formed a vegetarian club and they held a veg day which attracted 400 odd curious diners, I am told ! Another guest is busy inviting guests to his home to taste his apple chutney and much much more !

I have made more friends from these classes and my friends who attended are respecting me more for the veg choices I have made. I have learnt the importance of seeing cooking as an art and a holy activity. It has made me more organized, aware and more devotional.

And I will never forget the advise you gave me last year when I was finding it tough to get everything organized for a class – “…so do not worry. We have to be very professional as you already have been, we have to fill in all the details, work hard, as you have been, and the result, is always in Guara Nityanand’s loving hands. If you meditate on Lord Chaitanya and Nityananda, even the most difficult task becomes easy”.

I, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all that you have done over the last so many years for so many people. And spending such valuable time with me too. I shall try my best not to let you down and endeavour to chant, cook, take prasad and to be happy as long as I can. And for sure, will get others to do the same.

Your humble servant as well,
Manoj

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