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Vegetarian Recipes from Gadadhara Pandit Dasa


Note: Many of Pandit's recipes call for asafoetida powder, a spice known as hing in India. Made from a species of giant fennel, it can be purchased in specialty spice stores.


Makes about 20 samosas


2 tablespoons ghee or oil

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced

2 or 3 hot green chilies, minced

1 small cauliflower, cored, trimmed, diced and steamed until tender

1/2 cup peas

3/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon fresh coriander leaves, minced

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

ghee or oil for deep frying

Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat. Sautee cumin seeds until they turn golden brown. Add the ginger and chilies and stir fry for 1 minute.

Add the asafoetida powder and stir momentarily. Then add the cauliflower and peas. Add the turmeric, cinnamon and salt

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 heat and coarsely mash the vegetables.

Allow the mixture to cool to room temp. Divide the filling into 20 even portions.


1 3/4 cups unbleached flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons melted ghee or butter

1/2 to 3/4 cup warm water

Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter or ghee and rub it between your fingers until it resembles a coarse meal.

Make a depression in the center 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.

To assemble the samosas

Roll the dough into a rope about 10 inches long and cut the rope in 10 equal sized pieces. Cover with a moist cloth.

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 6 ½ inches across. Cut the disk in half with a sharp knife.

Dip your finger into a bowl of water and moisten the straight edge of one 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.

Carefully spoon one portion of the vegetable stuffing into the pastry cone, leaving a 1/4 inch 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 rest.

Place 2 1/2 to 3 inches of ghee or oil in a wok or deep-frying pan over moderate heat. When the temperature reaches 290 degrees , slowly fry 8 to 10 samosas at a time for about 6 to 8 minutes or until they're flaky and a pale, golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spinach, Tomato, Eggplant & Chickpea Stew

Six to eight servings

1/2 cup ghee or oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 hot green chilies minced

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

10 dried curry leaves

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder

1 medium eggplant cut into half-inch cubes

4 medium tomatoes cut into half-inch cubes

1 pound spinach

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups cans chickpeas

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy saucepan or large wok over moderate heat.

When the ghee is hot, add the ginger, chilies, cumin seeds and mustard seeds.

When the mustard seeds crackle, add the curry leaves, asafoetida powder and eggplant. Stir fry the eggplant for 8 to 10 minutes or until the eggplant is a little softened.

Stir in the tomatoes, spinach, turmeric and salt. Partially cover and reduce the heat to moderately low. Cook until the eggplant is soft and the spinach is reduced in size, stirring when required.

Add the chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Remove from heat and serve hot.


Four to five servings

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 stick butter

1 cup semolina or farina


For blueberry halavah, use 1/2 cup blueberries

For peanut butter halava, use 1/4 cup peanut butter.

For carob halava, use 1 teaspoon carob.

Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. (For carob halvah, add carob now.)

In a different saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the farina and stir fry until golden brown. (For peanut butter halvah, add peanut butter now.)

Slowly pour the sweetened liquid into the grains. Be careful! The mixture will sputter as the liquid hits the hot grains.

Stir for about one minute. (For blueberry halavah, add blueberries now.) Continue stirring until all the liquid is absorbed into the grains. Serve halava hot or at room temperature.

Vegetarian Chili

Six to eight servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 hot green chilies, minced

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder

1/2 cup diced green peppers

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup cooked corn pieces

3 cups tomatoes, chopped

3/4 cup tomato paste

3 cups cooked kidney beans

1 cup tofu, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat. When the oil is hot, add the minced green chili and sauté for 1 minute. Add the asafoetida powder and sauté momentarily. Add the diced pepper and celery.

Saute, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Add the corn and the chopped tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes.

Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If the chili is too thick, add some reserved bean liquid. Serve hot.

Vegetable Fritters (Pakoras)

2/3 cup chickpea flour (besan)

2/3 cup plain flour

2/3 cup self-raising flour

2 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons asafoetida powder

1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons green chilies, minced

about 2 1/2 cups cold water

bite-sized vegetables of choice (boiled potato, chopped cauliflower, chopped onion, shredded cabbage, shredded spinach)

ghee or oil for deep frying

Combine the flours, salt, powdered spices and green chilies in a bowl. Mix well with a wire whisk.

Slowly add cold water while whisking the batter until it achieves the consistency of medium-light cream.

Have extra flour and water on hand to adjust the consistency as required.

Let the batter sit for 10-15 minutes.

Heat ghee or oil to the depth of 2 ½ to 3 inches in a wok or deep frying vessel until the temperature reaches about 355 degrees.

Dip 5 or 6 pieces of vegetable in the batter and carefully slip them into the hot oil.

The temperature will fall, but try to maintain it between 345 degrees and 355 degrees throughout the frying.

Fry the pakoras until they are golden brown, turning to cook them evenly on all sides.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Serve immediately or keep warm, uncovered, in a preheated cool oven for up to 1/2 hour.

Recipes courtesy Gadadhara pandit dasa

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