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How to Cook With Love and Devotion.

Yamuna Devi dasi was an exemplary, early disciple of Srila Prabhupada. She was an expert cook and renowned among the devotees for the art. Here she is fondly retelling a memory of how Srila Prabhupada educated her in the subtilties of devotional cooking, cooking for Krishna, with great care and leniency.

Yamuna Devi dasi's book, "Lord Krishna's Cuisine," won the IACP award for the best book of the year.

Yamuna: The first time that I assisted Srila Prabhupada in the kitchen was in New York on the occasion of my sister's wedding. Srila Prabhupada cooked in his apartment in a small galley kitchen with counters on both sides. He gave me the singular task of making a very difficult preparation called aloo kachori. It's one of the most complex pastries to cook properly because it has to cook for a long time without becoming greasy, which is almost impossible. For nearly eight hours I made aloo kachoris while Srila Prabhupada single-handedly cooked a fourteen-course wedding feast in his small kitchen.

In the course of cooking for that feast, I made many mistakes. It was my very first day, and the first mistake I made was to wear a short skirt and a little T-shirt. Sitting crossed-legged I said, "Swamiji, may I have a cigarette?" He popped his head out of the corner and said, "Go wash your hands." I washed my hands. Then he explained the four prohibitions in Krishna consciousness: no meat eating, no gambling, no illicit sex life, and no intoxicants. A short time later I said, "Swamiji, may I have a glass of water?" He said, "Go wash your hands." Then he explained that the first and foremost principle in cooking was to engage our senses in the service of the Lord. He said that we should cook for Krishna with love and devotion and not think about our senses, our tongue, our sense of smell or our belly, because we were cooking for Krishna's pleasure. A short time later I said, "Swamiji, it's very hot in here." I was fighting perspiration. "Go wash your hands." In this way he introduced me to the simplest, most rudimentary principle of external cleanliness. He also explained a simple touch of internal cleanliness and said, "We can serve Krishna through the art of cooking when we are externally and internally clean."

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