Thursday, 27 October 2011

Quick carob peanut butter fudge for Govardhan Puja

Background photo of a relief in Sri Giridhari Gaudiya Matha, Govardhan, based on a painting by my senior godsister Symarani didi

Here's what I made to honour the day- not vegan, but you could always use powdered soya milk instead of powdered cows' milk.
3 tabs dried skimmed milk
1 tab powdered stevia leaf (not vital, so just omit this if you don't have any)
4 heaped tabs peanut butter (I used crunchy, but you could use smooth for a more homogenous mixture
3 tabs carob powder
4 tabs Pakistani shakar (like gour, but even less refined)
1 dsp date syrup

  • Simply mix everything together,starting with a spoon, then rubbing in with your fingers to ensure an even mix
  • Press into a foil-lined loaf tin and cut into 14 pieces (like burfi or fudge)
  • Firm up in the fridge for at least 15 minutes

Govardhan Puja

Today in the UK is the day of Govardhan Puja. One day after Diwali, it is now that we celebrate the time when Krishna saved the people of Vraja from Indra's vengeful rainstorm by lifting Govardhana Hill for seven days and nights so that they could shelter underneath. I have some fond memories of pilgrimages to India at this time, when my daughter was very small. She used to love all the stalls selling mithai and glass bangles that pop up on the streets from nowhere for Diwali and the colourful rangoli outside peoples' doors. On Diwali night we all used to go down to Manasi Ganga in Govardhan and put divas on the water. The crowds were awesome! The mandirs in Vrindavan and Govardhan are decorated with festoons of twinkling lights, firecrackers are going off everywhere and inside the lamp-lit temples there are beautiful decorations with cow-dung murti of Krishna lifting Govardhan, coloured with bright powders to welcome the steady stream of worshippers. My Guru Maharaja used to take us onto Giriraja Govardhana at night to sing bhajans by candlelight. In the day we would do parikrama of Giriraja Govardhan (which takes nearly all day) stopping to feed dried chana to the monkeys and listen to Harikatha, and on Govardhan Puja we would have the annakuta festival, for which we would make sweet and savoury preparations and carry them in a loud kirtan procession, along with heavy jugs of milk which we had painted the day before, through the town of Govardhan and to Giriraja, where Gurudeva would perform arati and offer them all. We each got a large bag of prasadam goodies to take back with us!
Tonight I shall make some special sweets, pile them up in the shape of a hill and remember Krishna's sweet Govardhan lila...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Sweetcorn Chowder with Red Cabbage- vegan

Served with home-made flatbread, this is a truly seasonal delight!

It was the first day of the Autumn half- term holiday, and lunchtime was looming... I was looking for some quick and tasty fuel to get me out into the garden to plant the Spring bulbs, my husband was feeling ill with a heavy cold -and the kids were just plain hungry. When I phoned up to tell my husband's customer of the day that he was unwell and wouldn't be able to work, he said: "Make him some hot soup," so this recipe was born! It actually tastes so rich and creamy everyone thought it had milk, cream or cheese in it, but in actual fact the secret is ground sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast plus a little bit of soya milk; these ingredients make this a much more nutrient- dense version, being packed with B vitamins, aminoacids, vitamin E and minerals and it is a very satisfying meal with some bread or crackers. The stir-fried red cabbage is added at the end to preserve the soup's yellow colour and give a bit of crunch.
My husband was making the flatbreads while I made the soup, so together we managed to rustle up this lunch for five from scratch in about half an hour, maybe less.
A handful of red cabbage for each person
100g sunflower seeds
450g frozen sweetcorn kernels
500ml water
200ml soya milk
1 tsp organic rice miso
olive oil/ organic sunflower oil for stir-frying
1 tsp hing
a dash of soy sauce/ liquid aminos
1 dsp nutritional yeast flakes
black pepper, seasalt and dried thyme to taste
  • First grind the sunflower seeds as finely as your grinder will let you without actually making sunflower butter.
  • Chop the red cabbage into fine shreds and stir-fry in the oil, adding the soy sauce and hing when about half done, then lowering the heat and cooking gently until just cooked through but still a little crunchy. Set aside.
  • Mix 1 tsp miso with 500ml water and add to a pan along with the sweetcorn, heating gently.
  • Stir in the ground sunflower seeds and the soya milk and bring to the boil.
  • Turn off the heat and blend all but a few ladle-fuls (it's nice to leave a few kernels in there), returning to the pan on a gentle heat.
  • Season with the salt, black pepper, thyme and nutritional yeast.
  • Serve with a dollop of red cabbage in the middle and some flatbread*(see pic).
-Oh, and a very happy Diwali to all!

*My husband's flatbread recipe to follow in my next post.