Here is another photo from the recent bandara at the ankhara where I am currently staying. Today it was my turn to cook, though rather unexpectedly. After cooking chow mein for the sadhus the other day, which seemed to go down well, I decided to make them some hummus as a pre-dinner snack, which I would serve up with crudites and chapaati.
It just happened that there was a very important sadhu visiting the ashram today, but that didn’t phase me – well not until I came back from being out for the afternoon, ready to make my hummus ,only to find that Onkar Giri (the naga baba who is the supervisor of the ashram) had chopped up my tomato and garlic, along with some onion. Just as I was wondering what was going on he then turned up with a selection of spices and some chilies and told me to get cooking.
It turned out that there had been a slight misunderstanding and he had told everyone that I was cooking for them all, including the visiting Maharaj! I had no vegetables other than the onion but had to rustle up some Indian food for Indians, including two chefs who knew all about how to make good curries, and the visiting Mahara! So my hummus was transformed into chickpea curry using whatever ingredients were available, cooked on a one ring stove. Just to add an extra element to the challenge, the inevitable Varanasi power cut occurred during the process, so I had to cook by candlelight in temperatures in the top forties with no fan to cool me.
But I enjoyed the challenge and it felt nice to give something back as I am being fed practically every day at the ashram. Hopefully the sadhus enjoyed the English twist on curries and the change of flavours made up for the drop in quality.