Cooking with Kurma: More great vegetarian dishes by Kurma Dasa. Hardcover book published by Chakra Press 1998.
It was in the 1990s that I first became acquainted with Kurma. For various reasons I was in a situation where I occasionally had little choice but to watch his cooking program that was on Australian TV at the time. I wasn’t, and I’m still not, a great fan of cooking programs on the telly, so it was very begrudgingly (whilst being polite) that I watched this chirpy Australian Chef cook up tasty looking vegetarian tucker*.
By today’s standards, Kurmas world was a little sterile and quite honestly a little plain. He was obviously working to a budget and at this time in the history of cooking shows, I think there was a slightly different aesthetic to these programs (…possibly none). Now the reason I’m writing about Kurma is that after watching a couple of episodes, I started to warm to the guy. He was very passionate in a very sincere and honest way about his food… that’s the way I viewed it. I’m not a vegetarian (don’t be shocked, there are a few of us around) yet strangely, I felt compelled to watch and even began to enjoy this guys enthusiasm for vegetarian food.
There is something I haven’t mentioned about Kurma and indeed it’s sort of not important to the food. Hanging on the wall of his Spartan kitchen each week was a picture of this bloke:
(If you don’t know who he is… well I guess you don’t know.) Yes, Kurma Dasa was and still is a member of the Hare Krishna movement. Ahhhh (the penny drops), that’s why he only cooks vegetarian food. I can’t remember him ever mentioning anything about being a follower of Krishna and I think this was another thing about the program that intrigued me at the time. It was obviously working on a few levels, that is, encouraging people to not eat meat by enthusiastically showing them some fantastic alternatives, whilst casually promoting the Hare Krishna movement. Well I didn’t feel the need to shave my head or begin chanting, but I did learn how to use Asafetida powder and how to broaden my cooking horizons. The program didn’t curb my carnivorous ways… sorry Kurma.
So here we are many years later and I find a cookbook by my favourite Hare Krishna and yeah, I pick it up… and yeah, I write about it here. Which reminds me… i must buy some chickpeas.
* Tucker: Australian and New Zealand word for food.