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Almost Instant Vegetarian Recipies

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Almost Instant

On a tight schedule? These delicious dishes
for Krsna are quick and easy.

by Visakha-devi dasi

1984-04-11

I was looking through a new cookbook on making meals in twenty minutes, and I read, “Never before have so many people wanted so much out of life and had so little time to enjoy it. Between inflation, two-job marriages, and the quest for self-improvement, the momentum of our life style has us all dancing at a furious reel of achieving and coping. Something has to give. And usually the first thing to go is the time spent preparing our daily meals….”

When it comes to food, we want it effortlessly and fast. That’s why forty percent of the American food dollar is spent in restaurants and why an uncalculated amount is spent on fast foods at home—precooked, frozen, canned, and instant.

But why, in the “momentum of our life style,” is cooking the first thing to go? Why not TV? Or the movies? Or the baseball game? Well, maybe it’s because cooking takes a lot of effort and the reward is often small and fleeting. We may labor for a few hours to make an elegant luncheon, only to be left with a pile of dirty dishes an hour after it’s served; and then a few hours later, everyone’s ready for another meal. Was it worth the effort? From the statistics, most of us must think not. We’d rather phone for a take-out pizza and sit back for Star Trek reruns. There are just more important things to do than cook.

Krsna’s devotees, however, have a different attitude. Our desire to get a (or out of life has led us on a quest for self-realization—to understand who we are, who God is, and what our relationship with Him is. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna explains that the process for achieving this goal is devotional service. (That’s accepted by all authentic scriptures.)

Time spent in devotional service is important. Time spent in other ways is wasted and can never be regained—even at the cost of millions of dollars. The Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.3.17) confirms, “Both by rising and setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time in devotional service to the all-good Personality of Godhead.” Similarly, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “With every rising and setting of the sun, a day passes and is lost. Why then do you remain idle and not serve the Lord of the heart?” And a great devotee of the Lord prayed, “O my Lord, I have spent my life uselessly. Having obtained a human birth and having not served Radha and Krsna, I have knowingly drunk poison.”

A devotee understands that if we’re slapping a meal together so we can get out of the kitchen and watch TV, we’re wasting our time—both in the kitchen and out of it. Cooking, or anything else done for our sense pleasure, is useless as far as spiritual realization goes; ultimately it won’t help us enjoy life or get much out of it. But if we’re cooking for Krsna (or doing any other activity for His satisfaction), our time is perfectly spent.

The care we take in finding the proper ingredients for cooking, as well as the love and devotion we give to preparing and offering dishes to the Lord, are all part of our quest for self-realization; they’re all devotional service. Those who purchase the food for Krsna, those who cook it, those who offer it, those who serve it, those who taste it, and those who clean up afterward—all get a reward that’s neither small nor fleeting. They get eternal, spiritual benefit. In one way or another, they are engaging in devotional service, and that will lead them to the highest enjoyment in life.

The care we take in finding the proper ingredients for cooking, as well as the love and devotion we give to preparing and offering dishes to the Lord, are all part of our quest for self-realization; they’re all devotional service. Those who purchase the food for Krsna, those who cook it, those who offer it, those who serve it, those who taste it, and those who clean up afterward—all get a reward that’s neither small nor fleeting. They get eternal, spiritual benefit. In one way or another, they are engaging in devotional service, and that will lead them to the highest enjoyment in life. It’s all a matter of knowing the process.

Sometimes it seems that the dishes Lord Krsna favors most take the longest time to make—like milk sweets that must be boiled down for forty-five minutes, or kacauris (stuffed savories) that are deep-fried for twenty-five minutes. Yet, even in the momentum of our devotional lifestyle, we’re often fully engaged doing other services and don’t have as much time as we’d like to cook for Krsna. So this month, we’re featuring dishes that are quick and easy and that are also pleasing to the Lord. Puffed rice, for example, is a light meal, great for breakfast, brunch, or an afternoon or evening snack. Not exactly “instant,” but almost. And every second that we give to making, offering, serving, and tasting these foods brings us closer to our goal: an eternal life full of bliss and knowledge with Krsna.

(Recipes by Yamuna-devi dasi)

Puffed Rice with Fried Nuts and Peas

(Mourri Chidwa)

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

¼ cup ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
1/3 cup split raw peanuts
1/3 cup split raw cashews
1 teaspoon hot green chilies, minced fine
1 teaspoon peeled fresh ginger root, minced fine
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon mild asafetida
¾ cup green peas, steamed until tender
2 ½ cups puffed rice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar, if desired

1. Heat the ghee or oil in a large 5- to 6-quart saucepan over a medium-low flame for about 1 ½ minutes. Add the peanuts and stir-fry for about ten minutes or until they turn golden brown. Remove the peanuts with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain. Fry the cashews for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain.

2. Drop in the ginger, chilies, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and asafetida in quick succession, and stir-fry for no more than 3 to 4 seconds. Immediately toss in the steamed peas, raise the flame to medium high, and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Pour in the puffed rice and, stirring constantly, fry until the puffed rice is slightly crisp and well coated with powdered spices. Add the nuts, salt, and sugar; mix well. The puffed rice loses its crispness if it sits, so offer to Krsna immediately.

Quick-Roasted Farina with Braised Cabbage and Bell Peppers

1984-04-12(Suji-bandhgobi Uppma)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 or 5

3 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
1 ½ to 3 teaspoons hot green chilies, minced fine
1 ½ to 3 teaspoons fresh ginger root, minced fine
1 teaspoon split urad dal, if available
1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds
¾ teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 cups cabbage, chopped fine
½ cup chopped green peppers
¾ cup Malt-0-Meal (Other brands of farina need to be stir-fried in a heavy frying pan over a low flame until toasted.)
2 ¼ cups water
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 firm, ripe tomato, cut into 8 pieces
½ tablespoon lemon or lime juice

1. Heat the ghee or oil over a medium-high flame in a 4- or 5-quart casserole for about 1 minute. Toss in the raw urad dal, chilies, ginger root, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds, and fry until the mustard seeds sputter and pop.

2. Add the cabbage, peppers, and turmeric and, stirring frequently, fry for approximately 5 minutes or until the vegetables are braised and slightly limp.

3. Add the farina and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the water, salt, and tomatoes and boil for almost 1 minute. Remove the pan from the flame, cover, and allow the preparation to sit for 2 or 3 minutes. Stir, sprinkle with lemon juice, and offer to Krsna.

Roasted Farina with Coconut and Nuts

(Masala Suji Uppma)

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

4 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
2 to 3 teaspoons hot green chilies, seeded and minced fine or pureed
2 to 3 teaspoons peeled fresh ginger root, minced fine or pureed
½ tablespoon split urad dal
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds 12 to 14 fresh or dried curry leaves (nim), if available
¾ cup Malt-0-Meal (see previous recipe)
½ cup dried ribbon coconut, packed loose
½ cup chopped raw cashews
2 ½ cups water
1 ¼ to 1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons dry-roasted, crushed cumin seeds
½ tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon coriander or parsley leaves, chopped fine

1. Heat the ghee or oil in a 3- or 4-quart casserole over a medium flame until a drop of water flicked in sputters instantly. Drop in the ginger root, chilies, dal, and mustard seeds and fry until the mustard seeds pop and sputter.

2. Reduce the flame to low, add the curry leaves and farina, and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Add the coconut and nuts. Still stirring, roast over a low flame for 5 to 7 minutes or until the ingredients are golden brown.

3. While stirring with one hand, add water with the other. Bring the liquid to a boil over a high flame. Add the salt and cumin seeds. Reduce the flame to medium and cook until the farina absorbs the liquid. Remove, cover, and allow to sit for 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Stir, sprinkle with lemon juice, and garnish each portion with a sprinkle of chopped coriander leaves. Then offer to Krsna.

Puffed Rice with Fried Vegetables

(Mourri-aloo Chidwa)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 or 5

Ingredients for Deep-Fried Vegetables:

1/3 cup peanuts, slowly deep-fried until golden brown
½ cup potatoes, diced into ¼-inch cubes and quickly deep-fried until golden brown
2/3 cup cauliflower flowerets in ¾-inch pieces, quickly deep-fried till golden brown
1 small fresh hot green chili, seeded, sliced paper-thin, and deep-fried till golden brown
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garam masala, if available

Ingredients for Puffed Rice:

3 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon powdered red chilies
about 1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups puffed rice

1. Combine the deep-fried vegetables and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and garam masala; set aside.

2. Heat the ghee or oil in a 3-quart saucepan over a medium flame for 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Combine the coriander, cumin, turmeric, powdered chilies, and salt; drop the powdered seasonings in, stir, and immediately add the puffed rice. Stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes or until the puffed rice is crispy.

3. Add the nuts and vegetables, sprinkle in the rest of the salt, and mix thoroughly. Offer warm to Krsna.

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