Bananas in Mysore Market
"Perhaps you know that once upon a time Rupa Gosvami desired that "If I would get some nice foodstuff, I would have invited Sanatana Gosvami and cook some nice food." He desired like that. They were living in Vrndavana here and there, under the shade of a tree. They had no stock, nothing. So one very beautiful girl came and offered rice, dal, ghee. She said, "Baba, we have got some festival." In this country they address saintly person as Baba. So she offered so many things, and he immediately invited Sanatana Gosvami--they were living separately. And Rupa Gosvami was very good cook also. So he prepared very nice preparation and offered to Sanatana Gosvami prasadam. So Sanatana Gosvami astonishingly inquired that "Where you got all these nice things in this forest?" So he told the whole story, that "In the morning I desired, and in just a few hour, time, little time, one very beautiful girl came and offered this ingredients." So after hearing the description of the beautiful girl, Sanatana Gosvami could understand that she was Radharani. So immediately he chastised Rupa Gosvami, that "You have taken service from Radharani. This is not good. We are trying to give service to Radharani, and you have taken service from Radharani."
So this is Vaisnava consideration. They are firmly determined not to bother Krsna with anything. Simply to serve Him. Anukulyena krsnanusilanam. Similarly, Krsna also finds opportunity when to serve His devotee. This is the reciprocation. The devotee wants to serve Krsna without any return, and Krsna also wants to serve devotee whenever there is opportunity. This is the transaction of love: not to take anything return."
Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam, 09-13-76, Vrindaban
For many who are learning to cook Indian food, the first challenge is getting familiar with the exotic vegetables and other unusual ingredients called for in Vedic dishes. Once the ingredients are acquired, learning how to properly spice foods can be an equally interesting process! What the western palate considers "spicy hot" may be experienced as dull and flat to the Indian tongue.
Tamala Krsna: "I have difficulty eating the sabji because it's very spicy, but I think it's liked by the Indian people.
Prabhupada: Oh, yes.
Tamala Krsna: I know, in New York, that is one of their complaints, the Indian people, that we don't cook spicy enough. Too bland for their palate. And we're not accustomed to that so much, hot spices. They like.
Prabhupada: Without spices, Indians should not cook.
Tamala Krsna: No, they won't digest it either.
Prabhupada: You'll be surprised how what quantity of spices toward(?) Indians. There is a Calcutta wholesale market of spices. They... Everywhere, not Calcutta... Chili, they are sold in big, big bag. We have seen in Hyderabad a spice shop, chili, large shop. And amongst the spices, the chili is most favorable."
Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, 06-30-77, Vrindaban
Many cooks aim for the middle ground, emphasizing the sumptuousness of a dish by making sure the overall flavor, texture and appearance are first class. As your repertoire of Indian dishes grows, you'll become increasingly amazed by the vast number of unique dishes that can be created from a handful of ingredients.
"Prabhupada: From milk, we can make so many nice foods. You take ghee, and from ghee, from grains, from fruits, you make so many varieties. Just like dahl, pulses, soak it in the water and then fry in the ghee and put masala, and it is so nice salty preparation, dahl mutta. Then make samosa. You introduce these things, dahl mut(?), samosa, jalebis, they will like. They have never tasted all these. Sandesa, rasagulla, pantoa,(?) so many varieties from milk, only milk."
Srila Prabhupada Garden Conversation, 06-14-76, Detroit
While our tendency in the west may be to rely on packaged, processed foods to increase the variety of dishes, the Vedic cook soon learns that it's simpler and faster to cook excellent preps from scratch than it is to spend the time required to carefully study food labels in the grocery store. In the "Un-bonafide Ingredients" section, linked below, we've provided just a partial list of additives that contain animal products disguised by various names.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
Glossary of Bhoga Ingredients
Dictionary of Ingredient Terms
India's Bounty on Canvas
Photos of India's Vintage Markets