The Hare Krishna movement is famous all over the world for the delicious meals they serve at large festivals. It is truly astonishing how the cooks are able to make so much food taste so good. As a result, the spiritual organizaton is often referred to as the “kitchen religion.”
“I made this movement successful simply by love feast*,” explained the founder, Srila Prabhupada during a room conversation at the end of his life.
*Love feast: Another name for the Hare Krishna free vegetarian feast served on Sundays at ISKCON temples around the world.
“They did not come to hear Hare Krishna. They came for love feast. From very beginning, when I was in 26 2nd Avenue, every Sunday I was giving nice foodstuffs, at least 200 men….I was cooking myself. That is the beginning of our movement.”
Srila Prabhupada is the inspiration behind the Food for Life project and was himself an expert at cooking delicious meals for large gatherings — and this is an important difference between Srila Prabhupada and other leaders of spiritual organizations. Srila Prabhupada always considered himself a servant of God and demonstrated his humility when establishing his new spiritual organization (ISKCON) by cooking for his students himself and then cleaning up after them!
In fact, Srila Prabhupada made it abundantly clear that eating pure food (prasadam) was an essential activity of his new movement.
“Our Hare Krsna movement is standing on three principle things: chanting, dancing, and eating prasadam. It is not very difficult. It is very enjoyable to chant, dance, and take prasadam. And if you like, you can hear a little philosophy of this movement. Or even if you do not understand the philosophy, even you do not read the books, simply if you take part in these three things, chanting, dancing, and taking part in eating the prasadam, your life will gradually progress in spiritual advancement of life.” (1974 London Rathayatra festival)
One of his early students, Sunanda Das (Saul Porecki) has taken on the task of sharing the Hare Krishna wisdom of cooking for large gatherings in a new publication called, The Kitchen Religion Series, with the first volume offering 65 delicious rice recipes from around the world.
Sunanda explains, “This series is a unique and versatile offering for the novice cook or the skilled Hare Krishna chef looking to master quantity cooking, as well as for the family cook seeking new ideas and solutions for that big family gathering.”
The series of cookbooks are filled with practical tips, quantity charts, metric equivalents and inspiring quotes and instructions from the master chef and guru, Srila Prabhupada.
It is important to note that all the recipes in the series can can be adjusted to suit a vegan diet and that Food for Life Global only supports projects that serve vegan meals or meals that have sourced non-violent (ahimsa) dairy.
About the Author
In 1971, at the age of 16, I started visiting the Hare Krishna Temple in Brooklyn, New York and got my first taste of Krishna prasadam. In fact, like most of us, I became a prasadam addict, and that was one of the most important factors which attracted me to Krishna consciousness. In due time I got ivolved in kitchen services (pot washing was always the first service for new bhaktas), and after getting initiated became one of the cooks for Sri Sri Radha Govinda, New York Temple’s beloved Deities.
Eventually, I became the cook on one of the Radha Damodar Traveling Sankirtan buses and even got the opportunity to cook for Srila Prabhupada during his drive to Gita Nagari farm on this bus. My cooking services led to opening three restaurants, one in the St. Louis, Missouri Temple, another in Austin, Texas, and finally to the opening of Kalachandji’s in Dallas, Texas in 1982. It soon received much local recognition, and in 1987 the Vegetarian Times magazine rated it as one of the Top 10 vegetarian restaurants in the U.S.
Magic Lotus Catering, a vegetarian catering service, was an offshot of Kalachandji’s Restaurant directed at the music entertainment industry which succeeded in serving many notable vegetarian bands and artists. The service even traveled as one of the food vendors with the 1992 Lollapalooza Music Tour to 35 shows across America.
More recently I served for three years as the cook for the famous Krishna Lunch program at the University of Florida in Gainesville (now in its 41st year of operation) where 1,000 + students a day enjoy a healthy and tasty lunch of Krishna prasadam. It was here that I began to conceive and develop the idea of quantity cooking cookbooks, and the Kitchen Religion Series is the outcome of that.