Spiritual Practice Directory
Atishaya Bazaar
Site Search
Site Map

Tamala Krsna: He may be taking prasada now. He was... I had a talk with him today. He was a little... I was surprised that he was complaining that the prasadam is the same every day. In other words, his complaint is that although we are giving... Of course, he may be critical, overcritical. I think that is a fact. But still, we should listen a little bit. Now every day there's at least seven sabjis. I mean, that's a big variety. But his point is that every day it's the same seven sabjis.
Prabhupada: That is not good.
Tamala Krsna: No.
Prabhupada: So you have to manage that.
Tamala Krsna: I'll make... They should listen to that point because it's a valid point. He's right.
Prabhupada: They are very expert.
Hari-sauri: They fed us very nicely when we were there in Fiji.
Prabhupada: Oh, yes. They are very expert.
Tamala Krsna: He said. He said, "In my house one day it is rice and dal. Next day, it is khicuri."
Prabhupada: That is the way. If you supply the same thing, it becomes hackneyed.
Hari-sauri: Yes. Even if it's first class, it still becomes boring.
Tamala Krsna: And I think these woman can cook many varieties.
Prabhupada: Yes.
Tamala Krsna: They know.
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hari-sauri: Maybe if they only do three or four sabjis a day, they can...
Prabhupada: Yes. Why so many?
Hari-sauri: Why seven?
Tamala Krsna: Oh, that's it. They have to be told also. On their own, they won't do it. I'll try and tell the proper person.
Prabhupada: That they can be advised, the change, menu change.
Hari-sauri: Yes.
Tamala Krsna: Do you happen to know who's charge of it? Tapomaya?
Hari-sauri: Tapomaya's always down there.
Prabhupada: This kitchen management is a great art. That attracts men. Ta'ra madhye jihwa ati, lobhamoy sudurmati, ta'ke jeta kathina samsare, krsna baro doyamoy, koribare jihwa jay, swa-prasad. Give varieties of prasada. That is required. That is the art.

Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, 02-19-77, Mayapur

When planning a feast, I always begin by considering who the person or persons are to whom the feast will be offered. As our personalist philosophy teaches, each manifestation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead has a unique personality and mood. The foodstuffs we might offer to Lord Krsna in Vrindaban, Sri Krsna Caitanya in Navadvipa, or Lord Nrsimha in Ahobilam represent three strikingly different moods and feast menus. Similarly, each of the Lord’s pure devotees expressed their own mood and rasa in their devotional service to the Lord. Whatever realizations one has about a transcendental personality can be beautifully reflected in the menu and arrangements for a feast.

Go to Srila Prabhupada’s books for information that will help plan the feast menu, and using the wonderful cookbooks published by the Vaisnavas, look for recipes that played a part in some lila pastime. You might choose preparations that were served at some historical prasadam feast, or that were regional or seasonal favorites somehow related to the festival or event. I love to include dishes that Srila Prabhupada taught the recipes for, or that he particularly mentioned or enjoyed at a festival in the past. When everyone sits down to take prasadam after the arotika and program, we have the opportunity to describe the various preparations and stories behind them, which the guests very much enjoy hearing as they eat. This adds a wonderful dimension to the Krsna Conscious feast experience.

In the “Feast Menus” section, I’ve included some complete feast menus and a number of individual recipes related to particular events like the ones described above. We often include many of these preps in the feast offerings made here in our asrama.

My earliest attempts at feast planning were rather out-of balance, but my husband kindly taught me that five sabjis and four savories…. with no rice…. do not make for a sensible feast. Today, I consider a well-rounded feast to be one that includes a dal, rice, bread, a wet sabji, a dry sabji, a bitter or sour, two savories, a chutney, a raita or salad, a sweet, and a beverage. I seldom leave out any one of these twelve ‘basics’, and find that almost any combination of preps in these categories makes for a grand feast.

I usually serve a fairly plain rice pulau, because a low-key rice seems to help anchor the richer, heavier preps. When I want to expand the menu beyond the ‘basic 12’, I might add a second, opulent rice like Pushpanna. Personally, I haven’t yet mastered the bread category, and find it easier to include a simple bread that can be made a bit ahead, rather than try to produce fried puris during the last moments before the offering. I can only look forward to the day I’m up to that task!

If I’m adding to the sabjis, I try to include contrasting bases, e.g. one with a sour cream base, one with a tomato base, and perhaps one that’s just ghee and spices. While the savouries are always favorites, they’re also very filling, so rather than increase the number of savouries being offered, I usually include a small but opulent stuffed vegetable. If time permits, I like having two or three different sweets, and they often end up being packed for carry-home and prasadam distribution.

We've seen on some occasions that the desire to put 108 different preparations (or more!) before the Lord results in a feast that includes a handful of every single kind of nut one can buy at the bulk grocery, or a cup of every different flavor of fruit juice on the shelf. We don't subscribe to this school of feast preparation, but instead prefer to create a smaller number of preparations that are more complex, refined and carefully crafted. While this is surely a matter of personal style, I get greater satisfaction throughout the cooking process when I focus on quality over quantity.

The Lord should be offered as many nectarian foodstuffs as possible, but the feast menu should be well balanced in terms of flavors, textures, appearance, richness, and temperature. Because I’m the type of person who’s very visual, I often end up drawing a quick sketch of how the menu might look on the offering plates. It’s amazing how an ill-conceived or out of balance menu becomes suddenly obvious to me when I see the different preparations drawn out, side by side, and imagine them being offered.

Planning out the quantities of each prep can be a challenge, so I try to err on the side of ‘too much’ rather than ‘not enough’. Not only should the guests be offered all they wish to eat of each foodstuff, everyone at the feast should be encouraged to take home prasadam, so they can liberally distribute the Lord’s mercy to others. It’s a good idea to plan for larger quantities of those preps that travel well and retain their flavor and attractive texture for an extra day or two.

When it’s possible that many ‘unconfirmed’ guests might arrive for a feast, we always make sure there’s lots of rice, dal and sabji to go around. That way, even if the savouries or sweets go a little shy, everyone will be filled to satisfaction.

The “Spreadsheets” section linked below offers a step-by-step example of how easy menu planning and feast organization is made by use of Excel worksheets. If you use this method, be sure to save the spreadsheet files for future reference, because they’re perfect for re-use and easy adaptation.

Using Spreadsheets