It's almost here! Our biggest celebration of the year, the birth of Shri Krishna. On this day hundreds of temples all around the world will be celebrating this holy day with chanting, dancing, fasting and of course feasting. For those of us who enjoy cooking, it is nice on this day to prepare some special dishes, things that you wouldn't just make for yourself, and then offer them to your home deities or even to a picture of Krishna. At some temples there is the opportunity to bring your preparation to the temple as an offering to the deities there, which can be extra sweet. I thought that for this edition of the newsletter I would break from the plan of starting slow and easy and give you some fancy, extra delicious, “only to be prepared on special occasions” recipes.
The first recipe that I would like to share for Janmashtami is pakora. Pakoras are spiced vegetable fritters that are loved by most people who are lucky enough to try them. The great thing about pakoras is that you can use any vegetable you wish, my personal favorite is cauliflower, potato or if I'm feeling extra fancy paneer. These tasty appetizers are best offered and served with a spicy chutney, or as my daughter likes them with tomato ketchup. Pakoras are best hot fresh from the frying oil, however they can be reheated on a cookie sheet in the oven.
**Please be very cautious using hot cooking oil. It can often splash out of the pot, and is dangerous if spilled on yourself or surfaces. And please know what to do in case of a fire on your stove as oil fires cannot be put out with water.**
Potato and Cauliflower Pakoras (use any vegetables you like)
Preparation and cooking time: 20-30 mins
2 cups chick-pea flour (also known as gram or besan flour)
5 tablespoons rice flour (can be omitted but makes extra crispy)
2 tablespoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
3-5 chopped green chilies according to spiciness desired (can be omitted)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
4 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 – 2 cups water (until medium batter forms)
Oil or ghee to fry
1 cauliflower cut into small florets
2 medium potatoes sliced thinly
Mix together the chickpea flour, rice flour, salt, cumin seeds, coriander powder, and chili powder if you are using it. Add water, mixing until a smooth batter forms (similar to pancake batter). Add the cilantro and chilies and mix. Place the ghee or oil into a frying pan and heat on medium/high heat, you know the oil is hot enough when a drop of batter dropped in will rise to the top straight away but not immediately change colour. When oil is hot enough dip vegetables into batter one at a time and drop carefully into the hot oil. It is best to fry smaller batches of pakoras. Turn the pakoras from time to time to ensure even browning. The pakoras are done when they are golden brown which should take approximately 5 minutes. If your pakoras are greasy then you may be frying them on too low heat. If your pakoras are turning brown before the vegetables inside cook then lower your heat.
The next decadent recipe I'm sharing today is from the fabulous cookbook “Great Vegetarian Dishes” By Kurma dasa. I highly recommend this cook book as all the recipes that I have tried have turned out divine.
The book can be purchased here: http://store.krishna.com/Detail.bok?no=721&bar=_shp_media-books .
This recipe is for Malpoora, a delicious fried cake served with berry or other flavored yoghurt. (If you are feeling really adventurous and are going to make both of these recipes in the same day I suggest frying the Malpoora first as the pakora can flavor the ghee/oil and you may end up with pakora flavored Malpoora).
Malpoora (Soft cakes in Strawberry yoghurt)
Preparation and cooking time 50 mins
Yield: about 2 dozen
2 1/4 cups self-raising flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups cold water
Ghee or oil for deep frying
5 cups plain yoghurt chilled
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups strawberries washed and quartered (or any other berry or fruit of your choice)
1. Sift together the flour and icing sugar in a bowl. Add the water gradually, while stirring with a wire whisk, until the mixture reaches a consistency somewhere between batter and dough. Spoon in one tablespoon of yoghurt and whisk again. The finished batter should cling to the spoon. Allow to set for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the ghee/oil to a depth of 2 1/2-3 inches in a wok or deep frying pan over moderately low heat.
3. Spoon out a tablespoon of batter from the bowl. With the aid of a second spoon deftly slide the batter into the hot ghee/oil. Quickly repeat the procedure for about 8 spoonfuls of batter. Allow the cakes to inflate in the ghee. Then turn them over with a slotted spoon and fry them, turning occasionally, for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are light golden brown all over. Remove and drain. Repeat until all the batter is used up.
4. Combine the yoghurt and sugar in a large bowl. Crush a few berries with your fingers into the yoghurt. Add the rest of the berries and combine well.
5. Carefully fold the fried cakes into the fruit yoghurt and refrigerate, allowing the cakes to soak for about 30 minutes before serving. Serve the malpoora in individual dessert bowls with strawberry yoghurt spooned on top.
I want to wish you all a very Happy Janmashtami filled with loving thoughts of Krishna. We will once again return to our slow and steady recipe program next week. Jai Shri Krishna!
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