A Hare Krishna Favourite
Fifty one years ago, on a hot summer’s day in a storefront temple in New York City, the Hare Krishna movement was born. Srila Prabhupäda (also known as His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) is credited with founding the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) through his translations of Gaudiya Vaishnavism theology, a religion founded in India sometime between 1486 and 1534. It was his spiritual vegetarian cooking however that endeared him to his early followers in the Lower East Side.
At the Hare Krishna temple in Rondebosch, Cape Town, an effigy of Prabhupäda sits cross-legged and adorned in fresh flowers. The adjacent restaurant, Govinda’s Pure Vegetarian Cafe is one of a network of restaurants around the world that serve the Indian dishes he taught his followers to make. It’s here you’ll find dhal and subji and a well-loved chickpea fudge that’s made to a secret recipe. The food is cooked and served by Hare Krishna monks, and on Sundays they host a love feast where all are welcome.
Chips! asked Hare Krishna monk Jyotimir Das to share the recipe for one of his favourite dishes to prepare: cauliflower and pea samosas.
These triangular deep-fried stuffed savoury pastries are becoming world famous. The Govinda’s Hare Krishna restaurants world-wide all feature samosas on their menu. When you bite into a warm samosa, you’ll notice its wonderfully tender, thin pastry crust, golden brown from deep-frying in ghee, and the harmony of flavours of the vegetable filling.
Serve samosas with date and tamarind sauce, peach chutney, or mint chutney. Samosas should be served warm or at room temperature and make a great travelling snack-food.
Preparation and cooking time: about 1 hour
Frying time: 20 – 30 minutes
Makes 20 samosas
For the filling:
2 tablespoons (40 ml) ghee or oil
1 tablespoon (20 ml) cumin seeds
2 teaspoons (10 ml) minced fresh ginger
2 or 3 hot green chillies, seeded and minced
3ml yellow asafoetida powder
1 small cauliflower (about 400g) cored, trimmed, diced, steamed until tender
335 ml green peas, steamed
2 ml turmeric
1 ml cinnamon powder
7 ml salt
1 tablespoon (20 ml) minced coriander leaves or parsley
2 ml lemon juice
ghee or oil for deep frying
For the pastry:
435 ml unbleached plain flour
3 ml salt
4 tablespoons (80 ml) melted butter or ghee
Between 125 ml – 185 ml warm water
To make the filling:
1. Heat 2 tablespoons (40 ml) of ghee or oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat. Sauté the cumin seeds in the hot oil until they turn golden brown. Add the ginger and chillies and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the asafoetida and stir momentarily; then add the cauliflower and peas. Add the turmeric, cinnamon, and salt.
2. Reduce the heat to low, stir all the ingredients, and partially cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and quite dry. Add the fresh coriander leaves and lemon juice. Remove from the heat and coarsely mash the vegetables. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Divide the filling into 20 even portions.
To make the pastry:
1. Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter or ghee and rub it between your fingertips until it resembles a coarse meal.
2. Make a depression in the centre of the mixture, add most of the water, and quickly mix and gather it into a ball. If the dough is too dry to cohere, add warm water to make a medium-soft pastry dough.
3. Knead the dough on a smooth surface for 8 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Cover with a cloth until the filling is cool.
To assemble the samosas:
1. Roll the dough into a rope about 25 cm (10-inches) long and cut the rope into 10 equal-sized pieces. Cover with a moist cloth.
2. Take one piece of dough and press it into a smooth patty. Lightly oil a smooth working surface. With a rolling pin, flatten the patty into a round, thin disk about 16.5 cm across. Cut the disk in half with a sharp knife.
3. Dip your finger into a bowl of water and moisten the straight edge of one semi-circle of pastry. Pick up the semi-circle and fold it in half, forming a cone. Gently but firmly press the moistened edges together, slightly overlapping them to ensure the seal.
4. Carefully spoon one portion of the vegetable stuffing into the pastry cone, leaving a 0.5 cm border on top. Dip your finger into the bowl of water and moisten the inside edge of the cone. Firmly press the moistened edges together, thoroughly sealing the filling inside the triangular pastry casing. The top edge can be left plain, crimped with a fork or plaited with your fingers. Place the samosa on a tray and finish rolling, filling, and shaping the remaining samosas.
5. Place ghee or oil to a level of 6.5 – 7.5 cm in a wok or deep-frying pan over moderate heat. When the temperature reaches 145°C/290°F, slowly fry 8 to 10 samosas at a time for about 10 minutes or until they’re flaky and pale golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Govinda’s Natural Food Cafe is at 17 St Andrews Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town.