The Art of Indian Sweets
Cooking for Lord Krishna
Cooking is an art and one of the most wonderful ways to please someone. This art becomes transcendental and therefore meaningful if one cooks for The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, 'the reservior of all pleasure.' I have had many pleasent experiences in the art of cooking for Lord Krishna, although I have had to face some seemingly impossible challenges in my life, due to my physical limitations.
I was born in Rajasthan, India, and was raised in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. The land of Sri Sri Radha Govinda Dev Ji. I was born with a disability and as a result of this, have had heavy challenges with my bones as well as the rest of my physical structure. I also stand less that four feet tall. Because of all this I was unable to go to school like the other girls and I had to stay at home with my mother. While there I would watch her very carefully as she cooked; she cooked three times a day. Her style was very simple. She didn't use many ingredients and used only a few steps to prepare something -- and the tastes were always wonderful. My mother was always very protective of me and although I had an intense desire to cook, I was scared to ask her because I was sure she wouldn't let me -- I was barely 11 years old. However when she went out one time, I tried to immitate her cooking. Upon her return she was very surprised but also upset as something could have happened in her absence. After that she allowed me to cook in her presence, and it was at this point that cooking became an everyday activity for me. Needless to say, I was very happy. A little while later I went to a cooking school in Jaipur, and although I was the youngest student in the class, I was able to earn a diploma.
Several years later, in 1988, I joined ISKCON. One devotee from New Delhi Temple, Jitamitra Prabhu, helped me on the devotional path and introduced me to His Holliness Lokanatha Swami from whom I took initiation in 1992. My godsister, Prasanta Devi Dasi, had encouraged me to offer my food to Lord Krishna, and when I did so, I felt I had received special blessings from the Lord. I never thought that, however, one day I would be able to cook for the Deities in an ISKCON temple.
By Lord Krishna's and my spiritual master's arrangement, in 1996 I moved to New Goloka in Hillsborough, NC, USA after marrying Gopal Prabhu. Just a few days after my arrival one devotee asked me to help her roll besan laddu. It was my first time in the Deities' kitchen and I felt ecstatic. After that several devotees asked me to regularly help roll sweets for the Deities, Sri Sri Radha Golokananda. I so much desired to personally cook traditional Indian sweets for the Deities, especially sweets from Rajasthan, but it was difficult in the temple kitchen -- everything was huge. After a few months my husband hired someone to build a kitchen in my home which was suitable for my size and I was then able to make sweets as a regular service. I began to cook complicated Indian sweets and realized I needed to simplify the methods. From then on I started to write my own recepies. I recieved a lot of appreciation and encouragement from the devotees and visitors but I never thought I would write a cookbook.
Some years past and in 2005 I had to undergo major brain surgery in India and almost died. But my life was saved in a miraculous way by the mercy of Lord Krishna and His devotees. During my recovery period from this long and intense illness, I often thought that, had I left my body, all my recepies would have been lost. Upon my return to New Goloka after the surgery, I concluded that I should compile them into a cookbook because I wanted to share with others how cooking for Krishna is such a wonderful experience. To this day, I still struggle while cooking because my bones are weak and because my condition worsened after the brain surgery. But these challenges do not bother me when I start to cook for Krishna; I always experience inner satisfaction.
It is difficult for me to walk from my house to the temple to deliver the sweets I make for the Deities. I often stumble along the way. Sometimes I have to sit down and rest. The distance seems like many miles to me due to my physical disability, though my home is only a few minutes walking distance...
A Few Sample Recepies:
Gulab Jumun Indian Sweet Recipe
Almond Halva Indian Sweet Recipe
Steamed Sandesh Indian Sweet Recepie
Rasgoola Indian Sweet Recepie