Permanent link to archive for 19/9/08. Friday, September 19, 2008


Never heard of Tikkis? No they're not what teachers put on good pre-school drawings. They're a delicious finger-food from The Subcontinent; pan-fried mashed potato patties with a tender-crisp crust and soft interior.

L from Vancouver, British Columbia wrote

"Dear Kurma, I really enjoy your website and your gracious gift of sharing your skills and passionate insights of vegetarian cooking. Thank you.

My friend, who is a Hare Krishna devotee, gave me a copy of Back to Godhead magazine (Dec 1982) which had a recipe for Aloo Tikki.

Following the instructions, I ended up making tikki's which were crunchy on the outside, and gluey on the inside (although quite tasty). I used idaho potatoes, so maybe I need to use another type of potato? Could you offer some suggestions?"

Now, since the question required expertise in the subject of North American/Canadian potatoes, I wrote my North American Correspondent Devadeva Mirel, (none other than Jam Queen Sabjimata) who kindly answered as follows:

yukon gold:

"Hello L, I really like making aloo tikki and, once you get the swing of it, I am pretty sure you will be making aloo tikki without any recipe at all. It is rather versatile and I am a little surprised you had gluey results. I checked online and found this link to an aloo tikki recipe by Yamuna Devi, and figured it is the same or similar to what you used.

Okay, assuming you stuck to the recipe verbatim, let's get into details. Yamuna's recipe calls for "potatoes suitable for boiling." New potatoes, round white, or round red potatoes and Yukon Gold all fit the bill. Idahos are not boiling potatoes, but they make good mashed potatoes, so I would think you could pull it off without incident, but apparently that wasn't the case. I almost always use Yukon Golds because I think they are the most flavorful.

I know you said you followed the recipe, and I trust that you did, but still I'm going to ask: Did you sub out the flour/binder for cornstarch or arrowroot powder? Instead of mashing the potatoes, did you put them in the food processor? These things could make your end results gluey (although I personally only use arrowroot powder as a binder). Best wishes, Devadeva."

Postscript: L. wrote back

"Hello! Thank you both for your emails helping me out with my aloo tikki. After reading Devadeva's email, I realized what I had done: I used a food processor to mash the potatoes, hence the glueyness.

Last night, I mashed the cooked potatoes with fork and this time the tikkis' turned out splendidly. I made a greek version of aloo tikki (lemon, oregano, pepper, bit of feta cheese) which I served with some tzatziki sauce. Thanks again for your help!"

I just love happy endings!

Posted by Kurma on 19/9/08; 7:56:46 AM from the dept.

Discuss (1 response) Comment [1]


shitake mushrooms:

I have never published a blog about mushrooms, but I am asked about them constantly. Since the Hare Krishna diet appears to be almost identical with many classic Buddhist vegetarian diets where mushrooms are used profusely, people usually presume that mushrooms would be acceptable.

And why are there no mushroom recipes in my books? The reason is that in the ancient culinary Bhakti Yoga tradition to which I subscribe, mushrooms are not cooked. No Vishnu, Krishna or Rama (Vaisnavaite) temple kitchen will ever prepare them. They are considered unfit foods to prepare in sacred food offerings due to their fungal nature.

Yes, they are nutritious, and yes some Hare Krishna devotees will occasionally eat them. The following exchange, originally about yeast, will shed some light:

Karthick from Houston Texas writes:

"I was wondering about some of your recipes, some of them have yeast in it, I was wondering if this is acceptable to be offered to Krishna. I thought yeast is a living organism, just like mushroom is. Please forgive my ignorance and help me understand this."

My reply:

"Thanks for your letter. Yeast is not a traditional ingredient in Vaishnava cookery, yet we do prepare and offer to Krishna fermented things like khamir poori, dosa, idli, jalebis etc. These are all fermented naturally, with the help of airborne yeasts.

Yes, yeast could be compared with mushrooms. However, it was not specifically banned by our founder Srila Prabhupada (like meat, fish, eggs, garlic, onion, alcohol are). When he first arrived from India, Prabhupada tasted western yeast-risen breads, but he said he found them dry, and much preferred his hot, freshly cooked unleavened chapatis.

Prabhupada did not eat mushrooms, and recommended we don't. Most Hare Krishna devotees never touch them, though some do. I have seen devotees in Russia pick them from the forest and cook them. So why this apparent grey area?


Here's a recent exchange of letters about mushrooms:

Malati devi: "And, what about mushrooms? We don't offer them to the (temple) Deities. However, in France, at the Nouvelle Mayapur Chateau (perhaps Kanti will recall this), they found very exotic expensive type of mushroom known as truffles on the property, and the devotees wondered about it."

Kanti devi: "yes, I do recall that, because I started making cream of mushroom soup for the devotees. We had mushroom pizza, mushroom rice, mushroom pakoras, so many mushrooms. There was one French devotee who would bring in crates full that he collected in the forest.

Naturally the devotees (Bhagavan dasa specifically) asked Srila Prabhupada before we did anything with them. The mushrooms were 'cèpes', (not truffles) a large mushroom that grows in the forest, and we had thousands of them. Srila Prabhupada said that 'Lord Caitanya ate mushrooms when he was travelling in the Jarikhanda Forest, and we could as well'. We did not have Radha Krishna Deities at that time, we had a Pancha Tattva altar and Srila Prabhupada said they were offerable to (on the altar to the sacred deity forms of) Pancha Tatva, so we did cook and offer them."

forest mushrooms:

This was a specific circumstance. Prabhupada wanted that the cooks in France did not waste them. But generally, Hare Krishna temple cooks don't use mushrooms; but as you can see in this case, they were not specifically banned like, say, onions and all other members of the allium family. If Kanti devi had been delivered crates of onions picked from the fields, for instance, she would not have prepared them in the temple kitchen. So there is a distinction.

Yamuna Devi, in her entire cookbook collection, has provided one or two recipes that contain mushrooms.

I have only one unpublished recipe containing mushrooms. Otherwise I hardly touch them. They are, after all, a fungus, and do not help to elevate the consciousness like 'satvic' foods do. Hence they are generally included in the category of 'tamasic' foods (foods touched by the lower modes of ignorance).

Hope this is clear. Best wishes, Kurma"

Posted by Kurma on 19/9/08; 5:31:36 AM from the dept.

Discuss (4 responses) Comment [4]

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