Cooking with the Divine Mother

I am blessed to be in the gentle presence of Shree Maa of Kamakhya, one of India’s most beloved and respected saints.

Worshipped by millions as the living incarnation of the Divine Mother, she lives on twenty wooded acres in the wine country of Northern California. Through her kitchen window we watch peacocks roam the grounds surrounding the Devi Mandir temple.

A willowy, delicate woman, her name means “respected holy mother.” In India, where saints are so much cooler than film stars, crowds of thousands swarm to greet Shree Maa when she returns to visit.

So how is it that a cookbook author and her husband came to be considered family members in the kitchen of the Mother of the Universe?

Ted and I met her over ten years ago through mutual friends. On that most memorable day she cooked and served us a delicious welcoming meal. I was impressed not only with the exquisite flavors but with her reverence while serving us.

Now we’ve been guests in her kitchen many times and have studied how Shree Maa follows sacred rules of worship while cooking. She teaches that food holds the vibration of the cook and the environment in which it is prepared, and that all who partake will be affected by those vibrations.

Maa’s sense for seasoning seems magical as she stirs blessings into whatever is bubbling or braising, yet she won’t taste until the food is offered on the altar to the Supreme Divinity then served to her devotees. In this way, all dishes are actually prepared with the intention that our Higher Power will partake first, and those who receive the food afterwards receive it as prasad, blessed food.

When Maa cooks, she sings. Her voice is pure and lyrical as she sings the Gayatri Mantra, the most sacred Hindu mantra, while she cooks:

Om buhr bhuvah svah

Tat savitur varenyam

Bhargo devasya dhimahi;

Dhiyo yonah prachodayat

(translation)

(Through the coming, going, and the balance of life

The light of Wisdom is the essence of nature that illuminates existence.

May all perceive the brilliance of enlightenment through that divine radiance.)

I love to sing this blessing while cooking in my own kitchen. Thank you, Shree Maa, for your delicious recipes and your beautiful example of women as keepers of the heart and hearth!

Adding soulfulness to every recipe

makes cooking a holy art.

Today, I am making one of the basics in Shree Maa’s kitchen–ghee, the clear golden, slightly toasty-tasting clarified butter used in Indian cooking. Because all milk solids are removed, ghee won’t burn when frying, so I use it instead of oil to sauté eggs, meats and vegetables. Ghee won’t spoil like fresh butter, so it may be stored, covered, at room temperature.

GHEE

Melt one pound of unsalted (sweet) butter in a heavy, medium-size saucepan over very low heat. Some of the milk solids will rise to the surface.

Simmer, uncovered, over the lowest possible heat, letting the butter foam and sputter, stirring once in a while, until all the water is dissipated and any remaining milk solids have turned a pale brown and cling to the sides or have fallen to the bottom of the pan. This will take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the amount of water the butter contains.

Line a strainer with several layers of white paper towels and pour the clear golden liquid through to remove all milk solids. To prevent contamination, be sure to use a clean spoon each time to remove ghee from the jar.

TO PREPARE IN ADVANCE: Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator indefinitely.

Please visit Shree Maa’s website

You may click on this title: Shree Maa’s Favorite Recipes to order a little cookbook I edited for her.

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