Open in App
Open in App

They Love to Cook, Cook to Love

This article, "They Love to Cook, Cook to Love," was published in The Los Angeles Times, February 27, 1969, in Los Angeles, California.

Some modern young people in search of creative outlets find them in cooking. This is 11th in a series of articles on what and how youths cook. 

Times Staff Writer

A love feast which takes place each Sunday is a religious observance as well as a banquet for devotees of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness in Los Angeles. 

The devotees, mostly in their 20s, meet at the Radha Krishna Temple on La Cienega Blvd. for a 4 p.m. service which includes the special meal. 

The dishes are prepared according to dietary principles set forth in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of Hinduism. Typical vegetarian foods of India, they are offered at the altar to Lord Krishna, the Hindu term for God, and then are set out for the congregation as part of the ritual. 

Spiritual Name 

The Sunday feast is supervised by Mrs. Hope Carter, 22, who goes by the spiritual name of Harsha Rani Devi Dasi. Harsha Rani was indoctrinated in the preparation of the food by the devotees' spiritual master, Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta. 

"It is a religious practice to cook," she observed. Those who prepare the Sunday feasts chant as they work and are instructed to avoid tasting or smelling the food until after the offering. 

Most of the foods are fried in ghee, which is clarified butter. Harsha Rani uses only sweet butter - 21 pounds of it for each love feast. 

The devotees eat no meat, fish or eggs and drink no alcoholic beverages, coffee or tea. They also avoid onions, garlic, mushrooms, yeast, vinegar and chocolate. Food must be eaten while fresh, and nothing may be stored for long. 

Instead of garlic, a dish might be seasoned with powdered asafetida, which the devotees obtain at a Middle Eastern grocery. "The asefetida brings out an unusual flavor in the food," said Harsha Rani, "but you must be careful to use only a pinch - not very much - or you will ruin the dish.

Another typical seasoning consists of cumin seeds and crushed red peppers cooked in butter. Some preparations call for the peppers and cumin to be cooked until they actually burn, which adds a distinctive and prized taste to the dish. 

Other flavorings basic to prasadam food, which is the name applied to the food offered in worship, are turmeric, cardamon, anise, coriander, ginger root and a combination of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Flour milled from chick peas is used in many preparations, including one called juri in which a heavy batter made with chick pea flour is put through a ricer into hot deep ghee. The resulting browned noodles are mixed with blanched raw peanuts which have been cooked in ghee and puffed rice cereal. 

A favorite confection called "sweet things" consists of chick pea flour cooked in sweet butter, combined with confectioners' sugar and rolled into small balls. 

Love Feast 

On a recent Sunday, the love feast included seven dishes, among them juri, sweet things and puris, the Indian bread of unleavened dough which is rolled into small, flat circles and deep fried. 

Another dish, called wet vegetables, combined potatoes and cauliflower flavored with the cumin and red pepper seasoning, turmeric and asafetida. This was served with rice and fresh pineapple chutney. 

In addition to sweet things, the cooks prepared a simple dessert of farina cooked with butter, sugar, water and golden raisins. While some of the dishes are difficult to master, Harsha Rani selected the following as easy for the novice. All call for butter, but in these recipes the butter does not have to be clarified. 

4 large potatoes 
3/4 lb. sweet butter 
1/4 tsp. crushed red peppers 
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds 
1 med. cauliflower Water 
1 tsp. turmeric 
1 tbsp. salt 
Pinch asafetida, optional 

Wash potatoes and cut Into 1-in. cubes. Do not peel. Reserve 1 tbsp. butter, melt the rest and deep fry potato cubes in the butter until golden. Remove potatoes and drain on paper towels. In another large pot, heat 1 tbsp. butter, add peppers and cumin and cook mixture until very dark. Add potatoes to pepper mixture. Separate cauliflower into flowerets and deep fry in the butter until golden. Add cauliflowerets and 1 tbsp. of the butter used for frying to the potatoes. Add water to cover, turmeric, salt and asafetida. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 min., or until potatoes are soft. Stir occasionally. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings. 

1 large pineapple 
1/4 cup sweet butter 
1/4 tsp. crushed red peppers 
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds 
Pinch salt 
1 tsp. turmeric 
Pinch ginger 
1/3 cup sugar 

Cut out crown of pineapple. Slice pineapple, remove rind and center core and cut in 1/2-in. cubes. Melt butter in skillet, add peppers and cumin and saute briefly. Add pineapple chunks and sprinkle with salt, turmeric and ginger. Cook over medium heat until liquid forms, then simmer 1 hr. Add sugar and simmer 30 min. longer, stirring occasionally. Serve as a side dish or relish. Makes 4 servings. 

1/2 lb. sweet butter 
2 cups farina 
1 1/2 cups water 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
1/4 cup golden raisins 

Melt butter, add farina and cook and stir over low heat 5 min. Bring water to boil in large saucepan. Add sugar and simmer until sugar dissolves. Stir in farina and raisins and cook and stir until water is absorbed, about 1 or 2 min. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings. 

1/4 cup sweet butter 
1/2 cup chick pea flour 
1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar 
Shredded coconut, chopped blanched almonds, golden raisins, optional 

Melt butter in skillet. Stir in chick pea flour and cook 5 min. over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. If desired, stir in 1 or 2 tsp. coconut, almonds or raisins. Let mixture cool, then roll into balls the size of marbles. Makes about 1 dozen. 

Photo 1: FOOD OFFERING - Harsha Rani Devi Dasi offers platter of prasadam food (below) at altar during Sunday afternoon services held at the Radha Krishna Temple. Times photos by Mary Frampton 

Photo 2: LOVE FEAST - Food is set out for a banquet which is part of worship conducted at temple by devotees of the International Krishna Consciousness Society.

Reference: The Los Angeles Times, Los Angels, USA, 1969-02-27