In the weeks prior to celebrating Gaura Purnima this year (2004), we spent many relishable hours reading the various descriptions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's traveling pastimes. Of the three lila volumes of Caitanya-caritamrta, the Madhya lila is particularly replete with stories of the Lord's travels throughout Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and South India. Not surprisingly, Sri Caitanya's travel pastimes are interspersed with nectarian descriptions of the feasts offered to the Lord at many stops along the way.
Sri Caitanya's Travelogue Feast was created in honor of the Lord's travels. We've included dishes that are particularly representative of the foodstuffs typically found in the towns and villages the Lord passed through. Linked below, you'll find the Travelogue recipes and Ingredients spreadsheet for this feast. We've also included a condensed timeline of Sri Caitanya's travels containing some - but certainly not all - of the travelogue highlights, along with text paraphrased or excerpted from Caitanya-caritamrta describing some of those events. For our Gaura Purnima program, we read together from these various passages and talked about the amazing journeys of the Lord, which increased our appreciation for the prasadam enjoyed after the offering arotika.
The Lord took birth in West Bengal, and our feast includes recipes from that region, with an offering of Cauliflower Pakora served with a bright Bengali Tomato Chutney. After taking sannyasa, the Lord went to Navadvipa, and the sweet Mathura Pedas are in remembrance of Mother Sacidevi cooking for her son there. As He prepared to leave Bengal for Jagannath Puri, Sri Caitanya was joined by Raghava Pandita, who came bearing the famous ‘Raghava's Bag' filled with foodstuffs prepared by his sister, Damayanti. Our menu includes Damayanti's Sweetmeats, an intensely flavorful sweet and digestive aid.
Several preparations mark Mahaprabhu's travels to Jagannath Puri and throughout Orissa. The Channa Dal is a traditional recipe that has long been prepared at the Puri Jagannath Temple. We also have Kadhai Paneer chenna sabji, an Orissan favorite featuring tandoor spicing, and a Khajur Khatta sour sabji from the Bhuvaneshvara region.
Traveling through Madhya Pradesh, between Jagannatha Puri and Vrindaban, Sri Caitanya's ecstatic pastimes in the Jharkhanda forest are celebrated with Sak Charcari, a simple mustard char of sak and wild greens. We created this recipe in thinking about Lord Caitanya's pastimes with Balabhadra Bhattacarya, who gathered greens and whatever vegetables might be available to offer the Lord in the dense forests of Central India.
Lord Caitanya traveled the length of Andhra Pradesh, visiting the Nava-Nrsimha at Ahobilam, the shrines at Tirupati, and stopping in many towns and villages along the way. From this region, we include sour Tamarind Pulihora and sweet Kaju Kathali.
On the western coast of the continent, the Lord traveled in Karnataka and throughout the more southerly state of Tamil Nadu. Our feast includes a most savoury Idli from Kanchipuram and another nicely spiced savoury from Tamil Nadu called Ammaan Kozhukattai, both of which are offered with a Coconut Chutney from Karnataka.
The feast is rounded out with our own Stuffed New Potatoes, a wonderful Coconut Dill Raita from Yamuna, and an old Hare Krsna temple favorite, Buttermilk Mango Nectar.