Gratitude

Someone may be very active in spiritual matters, but may have no feelings in the heart, or may have apathy. In spiritual life, one may be engaged in some kind of activity without any real taste for that activity, or one may be doing it in a mechanical fashion. One is not doing it with care and attention, or with feelings.

There is an antidote to this problem of apathy, and that is cultivating gratitude. We receive so much from God. We receive our life, that which sustains our life, food that we eat, air that we breathe, and so on. One can just push on, not taking into consideration any feelings of gratitude. If there is some acknowledgement for the wonderful gifts that God has given, then those feelings of gratitude will impel one to serve God.

When you have feelings of gratitude, you should express it. You say it, you do it and you live it – living a life of gratitude! A life of devotion is a life of gratitude. On the other side, apathy is carelessness or callousness.

Recipe – Gauranga Potatoes

(enough for 6 persons, cooking time: 50-60 mins)

Ingredients

  • 8 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced into 0.5 cm (1/4-inch) disks
  • 1 tablespoon (20 ml) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (20 ml) melted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 ml) yellow asafoetida powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ( 2 ml) turmeric
  • 3 cups (750 ml) sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons (40 ml) chopped fresh parsley

Procedure

  1. Boil the potato slices in lightly salted water in a 4-litre/quart saucepan until they are cooked but firm. Drain, peel and slice them.
  2. Add the olive oil and butter to a medium saucepan, over moderate heat and when hot, add the asafoetida. Saute momentarily; add the rosemary, black pepper, and turmeric and stir briefly. Add the sour cream, salt, and water. Whisk it into a smooth sauce and remove from the heat.
  3. Pour the mixture into a baking dish with potatoes, sprinkle with paprika, and place in the top of a preheated 200°C/390°F oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve hot.

Note: In this dish, slices of potato are folded with herbs, butter, and sour cream and baked to a golden brown. It is irresistibly rich and delicious, yet effortless to prepare.

 

Recipe – Gulab Jamun

Deep-Fried Milk Balls in Rose Syrup (Gulab Jamun)
(Yields about 20-25 Gulab Jamuns, cooking time: 45 mins)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 -2 teaspoons of cardamom powder
  • handful of sliced almonds (optional)
  • a pinch or few strands of Saffron (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons (25 ml) pure distilled rose water (optional)
  • ghee or oil for deep-frying
  • 2 cups full-cream milk powder
  • ½ cup white flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon soft butter/ghee
  • Water as required to make a dough

Procedure

Syrup:

Combine water and sugar, stir it and boil it till sugar melts. Add cardamom powder, almonds and saffron. Then, after 5 minutes, remove the syrup from the heat. Add the rose water and set aside.

Keeping Oil ready:

Pour the ghee/oil in a deep-frying vessel. Place over very low heat.

Dough:

To make the dough, for better results sift the flours, milk powder and baking powder. Add softened butter or ghee. Mix everything to form crumbles. Add water little by little to make a dough.

Take out the desired size and roll with your hands to form a ball. For more precision, divide the dough into 20-24 portions and then make balls.

Frying and soaking in syrup:

THE SECRET TO GOOD JAMUNS IS IN THE FRYING. Drop a little dough and see if it is too hot/cold (102°C/216°F). The balls will initially sink to the bottom. Do not try to move them. You can, however, gently shake the deep-frying vessel from side to side occasionally until the balls start to rise to the surface. From this point on they must be gently and constantly stirred, rolling them over and over with the back of a slotted spoon, allowing them to (golden) brown evenly on all sides (for 5-10 minutes).
Remove one ball and test it by dropping it into the warm syrup. If it doesn’t collapse within a couple of minutes then place all the balls (3 – 4 at a time) with the slotted spoon and place them in the syrup. (When frying them in oil, you may want to place them on paper towel before putting them in the syrup.) Otherwise, cook the balls for another 5 minutes.

When all the gulab jamuns have been placed in the syrup, turn off the heat under the ghee and allow the sweets to soak in syrup for at least 2 hours.

Gulab jamuns can be prepared a day in advance, allowing them to fully soak overnight. They can be served at room temperature or slightly warmed.

This recipe is very easy for even large quantity of Gulab Jamuns.

Recipe – Quesadilla

(enough for 3 persons, cooking time: 10-15 mins)

Ingredients

  • 3 Tortillas – spinach/tomato/hot mexican/plain/home made chapatis
  • Butter
  • Any Cheese – best is Mexican blend (TJs)
  • 1 Avacado, peeled, pitted and crumbled
  • 1 Tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 Green chilly, very finely chopped
  • ¼  teaspoon black salt
  • ¼  teaspoon black pepper powder
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons (40 ml) chopped fresh cilantro/coriander leaves

Procedure

  1. Keep a pan on slow heat, while you make the mixture.
  2. Mix crumbled avacado, chopped tomatoes, green chilly, black salt, black pepper, salt and fresh cilantro leaves.
  3. Bring the heat to medium high and wait till a few minutes till the pan becomes hot.
  4. Place tortilla on the pan. Add butter to one side. (Be careful as smoke comes when you do this  on a very hot pan– smoke alarm may go on when you are making a lot of them!)
  5. Sprinkle cheese , spoon the filling on half of the side of the tortilla, fold it tightly and leave it till you see cheese melting. You may leave them on the side, while you do the next one – if pan is large enough.

Note: For other fillings, you can also use sour cream, additional cheese, olives, corn, sautéed vegetables, steamed kidney beans, hummus etc.

Recipe – Rice and Mung Bean Stew (Khichadi)

(enough for 6 – 8 persons ; cooking time: 30 – 40 minutes)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (85 ml) split mung beans
  • 1 cup (250 ml) basmati or other long-grain white rice
  • 3 tablespoons (60 ml) ghee or oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon (20 ml) fresh hot green chili, minced or crushed black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (40 ml) minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon (2 ml) turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) yellow asafoetida powder (Hing)
  • 1 tablespoon (20 ml) coriander powder
  • Sliced/Cubed Vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, zucchinis, green beans, butternut squash, spinach, green peas etc.
  • 6 cups (1 1/4 – 1 1/2 liters) water
  • 2 teaspoons (7 ml) salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped fresh coriander leaves

Procedure

  1. Wash and drain the dal and rice.
  2. Heat the ghee/oil in a heavy 4-liter/quart non-stick saucepan over moderate heat. Fry the cumin seeds in the ghee.
  3. When they turn golden brown add the chilies or pepper and ginger. Saute them for a few seconds; then add the turmeric, coriander powder and asafoetida.
  4. Add the vegetables pieces and stir fry them for 1 minute. Finally, add the dal and rice, stirring with the spices and vegetables for 1 minute. Add salt.
  5. Add the water and bring to a full boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and slowly cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 – 40 minutes or until the dal and rice are soft.
  6. If the khichadi dries out too much, add up to one cup (250 ml) warm water. Before removing the khichadi from the heat, fold in the chopped fresh coriander leaves, allowing them to warm for one minute. Serve hot.