Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Festival Cooking.- menus and techniques

Our Harikatha Festival was a resounding success, with in excess of 100 people attending on the Saturday and Sunday... there was loads of good feedback about the cooking too! We used the kitchen attached to the community hall in which the events were held, where facilities were good for cooking for large numbers, but there was no oven and no fridge except a very small one one of us brought from home to put the milk and lettuce in.
We wanted to feed everyone as healthily as practically possible (budget permitting) and had made a large order of stuff like organic brown rice, buckwheat, organic wholemeal pasta and wheat flour which we supplemented with fruit and veg from our allotment and local shops, plus a few items like rye bread, muesli and jam from the supermarket. We devised the menus for each day well in advance so that we could be sure to have all the right ingredients; we didn't stick to Indian food all the time and the meals were quite varied. We wanted to be vegan, but we did make a few concessions such as having a choice of soya or cows' milk for drinks and breakfast cereal and there was milk powder in one of the sweets. Salad dressings were extra-virgin olive oil and we only cooked with cold-pressed sunflower oil. There was no deep frying apart from pakoras one night. One extra challenge was that the Monday was Yogini Ekadasi, so we could not serve any grains or pulses and the vegetables were restricted to certain types and no leaves. (See pics below for details of what we cooked.)
I have to admit that although I was in on the menu planning, buying and calculating of amounts, I didn't actually do any cooking myself apart from helping to mix one of the sweets. My husband was" head chef", and had a small team of helpers.
Our very basic kitchen facilities

Chopping fruit and veg was a serious business...



The most popular dishes seemed to be organic spinach sabji with brown rice and pumpkin seeds, wholemeal pasta with soya chunks in tomato sauce and pitta bread, hummus, olives and salad. The best-received dessert was probably the apple and rhubarb crumble with soya custard; a complete surprise as we had no oven (the crumble topping was made in a pan like granola and sprinkled on afterwards). We also cooked our purple potatoes for the first time; they turn black when cooked, but the flavour is earthy and delicious.
Tomato sauce
Salad, dal soup, hummus

Head chef!

Prasadam was served to guests seated in lines, Indian-style

Plastic buckets proved ideal!
Ekaasi supper: buckwheat, cucumber and yogurt salad, mooli sabji, boiled peanuts and fried plantain. there was also a sweet made from powdered milk, dates and coconut.



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