When the gopīs arrive in Nandagrāma, Yaśodā Mātā is waiting there for them. Seeing Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, she embraces Her, and smells Her hair. She kisses Her face and says, “You must be very tired, having come from so far. We have some refreshments. Please come to the kitchen and look over all the preparations to be made. Please start the cooking.”
Hearing Yaśodā Mātā’s affectionate speech, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is very happy. In the autumn season, the weather is cool, and the water is clear, likewise, anyone who comes near Yaśodā Mātā becomes very peaceful and cool by her vātsalya-sneha, motherly affection. With Yaśodā Mātā’s sweet speech, the gopīs become full of humility. The affection of vātsalya-sneha is so powerful that it even attracts the Supreme Lord. It washes away all His moods of opulence, and makes Him a small boy, Gopāla. He is the Supreme Lord, Parabrahma, but He forgets that. He forgets that He is in Vaikuṇṭha and that He is the Supreme Personality, the controller of countless universes—now He is a small boy Gopāla. In this way also, the power of svarūpa-śakti is so great, She is the power of the Supremely Powerful Parabrahma, but still, when Śrīmatī Rādhārānī comes before Yaśodā Mātā, the power of Yaśodā Mātā’s motherly affection makes the Supreme Potency svarūpa-śakti, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Her divine majesty appear as a small child. Yaśodā Mātā takes Her in her lap and smells Her hair. How amazing is this?
The guru-varga have this power, therefore, great personalities of this world, like great politicians, philosophers, renowned scientists and doctors, forget their high position and become like children, very small and humble before the guru-varga. This is the great personality present with those who have this vātsalya-sneha, parental affection. That affection has so much power—it controls not only Śrīmatī Rādhārānī but all Her sakhīs. In other places they are very powerful, but coming to Yaśodā Mātā and touching her feet, she takes them in her lap and smells their hair, and all their strength is hidden, and they are like small innocent girls in the care of their mother.
Yaśodā Mātā says, “You have come from different places, like Ciksaulī, Ūṅcāgaon, Kāmaī and Karehlā. Please make the famous preparations from your own area for Kṛṣṇa. Kīsori Rādhā is very famous in Vraja-maṇḍala, She knows all processes to cook the best of dishes. Everyone should follow Her guidance. Don’t do anything independently. Everything will be the sweetest of the sweet if you follow Rādhā.”
The sakhīs all desire to follow the advice of Yaśodā Mātā.
Yaśodā Mātā says, “Make the best of dishes, with the sweetest fragrances, and which are good for digestion. May Kṛṣṇa eat very nicely, this is my desire.”
Yaśodā Mātā continues, “I will divide you into different groups. One group will makes salty dishes, and another will make preparations made of yogurt, like dahi-vaḍā, rāitā and śrīkhaṇḍa.”
Yaśodā Mātā divides the gopīs in many groups, and designates them into making different types of items with specific ingredients.
She says, “Your group will make items with only pure ghee. Your group will make sweet savories coated with sugar syrup. Your group will make vegetable dishes, and pakoḍas. But everyone must be under the guidance of Rādhā.”
Yaśodā Mātā has full faith in Rādhārānī, and says, “Rādhe, You work very hard, I know this. Simply if You look and touch everything, it will become full of nectar, the sweetest of the sweet, softest of the soft, and best of the best. Please make amṛta-keli, karpūra-keli, kṣīra-sāgar, rasāvalī, anna-rasāvalī, and rasa-tāriyā. Make all the best dishes for Kṛṣṇa. He will be very greedy to eat this, and will ask for more and more. Then I will understand Your cooking is the best. If we only give Him once, and He doesn’t want seconds, something may have been lacking. But if He eats everything, and then wants more and more, then it can be seen that dish was especially delicious. O Rādhe, I know that there is no greater cook in the three worlds than You. Anything You make will be very tasteful.”
Yaśodā Mātā further said, “Dear Kiśorī, my son Kṛṣṇa likes pañcāmṛta. Please arrange this.”
This is a drink made from yogurt, ghee, sugar candy, milk, honey and spices like camphor, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves.
When eating, many different small bowls are placed with different spices. In some place, there is one powdered, and in another bowl there may be some ghee and honey mixed or yogurt and honey. In another place, there is some crushed black pepper and salt, and the powder of cumin seeds. While eating one chooses these small spices according to one’s own desires. Yaśodā Mātā asked Rādhārānī to also make some of these dry items.
Yaśodā Mātā then said to the Lalitā-devī, “Make a rasālā.”
How is this? One has a small plate, and when one takes some of this powder and licks it, it cools the brain and body and helps the digestion. It has some sweetness, and is also hot and sour, like Mexican candy, full of chili, tamarind, salt, and sugar. In Mexico, they mix all this together and make big candies, and chewing this, people begin to sweat and cry. But they chew it, and cannot give it up. This is Mexican food. They take so much chili with sugar and tamarind.
Yaśodā Mātā says, “O Tuṅgavidyā, make curd for rasagullās.”
To prepare good rasagullās, one needs pure cow milk, and to make that milk into nice curd, they have to know very well the process. First the milk must be heated, and lemons squeezed and mixed with some water and kept ready. When the milk boils, it is taken off the flame, and once it cools a little bit, the lemon juice is mixed in with the milk and slowly gently stirred. By this process then the curds will be very soft. If the lemon juice is mixed while the milk is boiling very hot in the top and stirred in, then the curd will be hard. Hard curd cannot make good rasagullās or any milk sweets.
In Mahāprabhu’s Navadvīpa-dhāma, the sandeśa is very soft and tasty. It is not possible to make it from hard curd. Tuṅgavidyā knows how to make very nice chenā, or curd, as well as gulābjāmuns, rasagullās, sandeśa and so forth.
Yaśodā Mātā says to Citrā-devi, “Make miśrīkhaṇḍa.”
When one goes to Dāūjī, Dāūjī Mahārāja eats this candy, or sugar rock candy. Some is reddish, and some is white. It is very special.
Yaśodā Mātā says, “Citrā, make miśrī. Raṅgadevī, make khaṇḍa-sāra and pīṭhā-pānā. Sudevī, make kṣīra-sāra.”
How does one make kṣīra-sāra? One boils down milk until it is thick, and mixes in the powders of many nuts, like cashews and almonds, and boils this down with some sugar. Another dish is made with the white urad dāl. First the dāl is stir fried in ghee, and then powdered, and then is mixed with roasted sesame seed powder. This is boiled down with milk until it becomes thick. It has a very good smell. One only gives a little bit of honey to it. This is called kṣīra-sāra. This will have a very nice aroma, and is very tasty.
Yaśodā says, “Vasantī, make phenikā.”
In Vraja-maṇḍala, for only one month they make this pheni and ghevar. These are very special sweets. In Jaipur, Govindadeva eats this every day.
One time, the king of Jaipur was arranging the wedding of his daughter. In his palace, he had built temples for the prominent Deities who had been rescued from Vṛndāvana during foreign attack. He had temples in his palace for all the Deities, and anything that was cooked was first offered to Them. After that, everyone would take prasāda.
On the evening of the princess’s marriage, many people came for the feast and celebration. So many preparations were cooked, and everything was presented in many bowls and plates to the guests. They made many drinks, sweets and different dishes. When all the guests sat down to eat, they looked down at their plates and saw everything was sand and bits of stone.
The people became very angry, “The king invited us all, and now he is giving us this rubbish!” They were very angry and got up to leave.
When the king heard that his guests were all leaving, he came and saw for himself that this was true. Greatly distressed, He ran before Govindadeva and prostrated himself. He saw that in front of the Lord all the plates and dishes were present.
What had happened was, that day, whatever was made for the wedding had been sent directly to the tables for the guests and not to Govindadeva. Also, on a general basis, the foodstuffs offered were not so elaborate as the king had arranged for his daughter’s marriage.
The king saw Govindadeva was smiling, as if to say, “You did not give Me these nice preparations? You gave your guests as if they were more special than I? You neglected Me. But now just see, everything is before Me.”
In front of Govindadeva, all the special items were present and only sand and stones were there for the guests.
“Please forgive me,” the king said, “I will never do this again. Everything is for You, I did wrong. I have no good intelligence.”
The guests then came before Govindadeva in an angry mood, and the pūjārī gave them each one plate of prasādam. The king sat there weeping, while all the guests ate and became happy. Then the princess’s marriage ceremony was performed before Govindadeva.
From that day, every day Govindadeva gets special items like kacori, pheni-ghever, halavā and barphī. Every day, even now, He is offered 56 preparations in the afternoon. From that day, the king properly served the Lord.
Now, Yaśodā Mātā says, “Raṅgadevī, make pīṭhā-pānā; Sudevi, make kṣira-sāra; Vasantī, make phenikā; Kuṇḍalikā, make jalebīs.”
The jalebīs that Kundalikā makes are not like those we see now in Vraja. If you go to Jaipur, in Rājasthāna, you will see how they make proper jalebīs. They make them very thin, and have many, many small loops on the outside. They make them very large and beautiful. Outside it is very crunchy, and within it is very soft and juicy. Kuṇḍalikā knows how to make these.
Yaśodā Mātā said, “Kadambarī, make candrakānta and candrakalā.”
These are also available in the sweet shops, along with bāluśāi and gujiyā.
Yaśodā Mātā says, “Lasikā, make rice laḍḍūs.”
A very tasty sweet can be made of rice that is fried, made into powder, and mixed with ghee and guḍ (cooked down cane juice) and roasted cumin powder. This mix is pressed into round laḍḍūs which are very soft and tasty.
“Komala and Susati,” Yaśodā Mātā says, “Make gujiyā.”
This gujiyā’s shape is like the first stage of the moon—a crescent. There is also a wonderful white colored sweet called mundi-piśtaka. Komala and Susati are expert in making these sweets.
Yaśodā Mātā next says, “Śaśimukhī, make yogurt preparations like dahi-vadā, and rasa-vadā. Sumukhī, make sarka-paṭikā and preparations made with sesame; Maṇimatī, make wheat preparations.”
A simple but pleasant preparation is made with wheat flour roasted in ghee and mixed into milk to make a type of kṣīra.
With white flour and sugar cooked in ghee, along with pistachios and other special ingredients, a type of caramel cake is made typically in the winter season. It is called chakni and is very costly.
Yaśodā Mātā says, “Manoramī, make manohara-laḍḍu. Ratnamalī, make moticura-laḍḍu; Mādhavī, make til-kadamba. O Vṛnda, make mūṅg-laḍḍu.”
For this laḍḍu, mūṅg-dāl is soaked, pasted, and stir-fried with ghee. It is mixed with nuts, sugar and milk, and is boiled down into a paste. When the paste is dry, they make it into laḍḍūs, and cover it with coconut powder. This is called mūṅg-pīṭhā, mūṅg-phali or mūṅg-laḍḍu.
Yaśodā Mātā requests Rambhā to make a preparation made of ripe bananas, yogurt, roasted chickpea flour, and mango juice. All this is boiled down together makes very tasty fruit sweetball.
“Kilimbā,” Yaśodā Mātā says, “I have one cow named Sugandhā. With her milk, we have made ghee, use that special ghee to make some drink for Kṛṣṇa.”
Kilimbā prepares a drink using milk and pure ghee, boiled together and mixed with pineapple juice. The milk will never curdle. These ingredients are boiled down together to make a thick, rich beverage. It is very good for the nose, throat and chest.
“Ambikā,” Yaśodā Mātā says, “Vrajarāja has a special cow named Dhavalā. When Rāma and Kṛṣṇa come from the cowshed, first give them this milk from Dhavalā to drink.”
“Dear daughters,” Yaśodā Mātā says, “Some of you should arrange the spices and ingredients. Raṅganā and Mālikā, go with Tulasī to the storeroom.”
Tulasī, Raṅganā and Mālikā are in charge of cleaning and preparing the kitchen.
Yaśodā Mātā sent one of the gopīs to the garden to bring angarāga fruit. It smells like a mango, but is smaller.
Yaśodā Mātā said, “Bring this angarāga, as well as pomegranates, mangoes and lemons. Bring also nuts and ginger. Make all this into fresh pickles.”
The Vraja-devīs use fresh fruits and nuts to make pickles. They cut them, squeeze them, mix different spices, and make fresh chutneys and pickles.
They make one kind of chutney with amla. It is first boiled, then smashed and mixed with a little ginger, salt and black pepper. This is very healthy.
Yaśodā has the gopīs make many types of chutney. These chutneys are served to Kṛṣṇa in many small, gold bowels and they increase His appetite and fire of digestion.
Yaśodā Mātā tells some servants to bring the milk from the cowshed and boil it in the large fire pits.
She says, “In the afternoon, there will be more free time and I’ll make many types of sweets, like barphī, laḍḍūs, rasagullās, gulābjāmuns, rasa-malāi, rasa-keli, rabaḍi, camcam, and many other items.”
Then, Yaśodā Mātā went to Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Rādhārāṇī is small, and She cooks with such big woks. Understanding that Śrīmatī Rādhikā would need help removing the finished items from the large pots, Yaṣodā Mātā called Rohiṇī, Dhaniṣṭhā and Kundalatā. Dhaniṣṭhā and Kundalatā always help Rādhārānī, and Rohiṇī and Yaśodā Mātā oversee everything.
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī removed Her shawl and other dress and wore a thin cloth for cooking. She took off Her ornaments and gave it to Tulasī. Dhaniṣṭhā washed Rādhārānī’s hands and feet and gave Her some cloth for cooking and she gave sandal paste on Her arms and hands. While cooking it is so much heat, so she gives sandal paste.
So this sandal paste cools the body.
Rādhārānī removes Her ornaments and places them to one side for Tulasī to take care of. Dhaniṣṭhā arranges water, and Rādhārānī washes Her hands, feet and face.
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī first offers praṇāma to Yaśodā Mātā, then to Rohiṇī Mātā, and then to all the elders. She prays to them, “I am now going to the kitchen for cooking. Without your blessings, whatever I do will not be proper or good.”
Then the hearts of Her elders melt, and they give profuse blessings to Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. There is no need for Her to receive this, but Rādhārānī is always very humble. She prays to them, and then receiving their blessings, She begins cooking.
Rādhārānī makes many kinds of vegetable dishes, savories, sweets, chutneys, rices, capattis, puris, drinks and so many other things.
When She is finished, Yaśodā Mātā comes in and sees everything is very beautifully prepared and is very happy. She asks Rohiṇī, “So many preparations have been made, how has it all been done so quickly?”
Rohiṇī was also surprised and said, “This is not possible for any ordinary person. All these preparations are the best available. It is possible only by the hand of Rādhārānī.”
Yaśodā Mātā discussed the glories of Rādhārānī with Rohiṇī. Hearing this, Rādhārānī became very shy and was sweating. Yaśodā Mātā began to fan Rādhārānī, but Rādhārānī would not accept this service, so the maidservants fanned Her.
“She has worked so hard in the kitchen,” Yaśodā Mātā said, “Now She is sweating so much.”
Yaśodā Mātā observes all the preparations that have been made.
She sees they made many types of green leafy vegetable dishes. They make many different types of lentil dishes. In one dish, they use a little mūṅg dāl, shallow fry it in some oil, and then very quickly boil it. If you don’t first roast it in oil, when you cook it, it becomes sticky and has no good taste. They make urad dāl, roasting it, then washing it with water, and then coarse grinding it, like a cracked grain. Then it is boiled in water and spiced with a little chilly, mustard oil, ginger, coriander leaves and salt. It boils up like milk. Once the cooking is finished and it is cool, it becomes thick like yogurt. It has a very nice smell, and when eaten in the summer, the body becomes completely cooled. You will not feel the heat of summer and will not sweat.
When Kṛṣṇa goes to the forest with the cows, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī sends this type of dāl for Him.
Rādhārānī makes different types of chapattis and savories with various types of flours. Everything is cooked and served fresh while everyone is sitting in line.
Many types of rice are washed and drained in cotton clothes. They are washed and then hung in cotton clothes and the water strains out. Then, they take this rice out, mix in pure ghee, then boil it in water, still in the cloth. They do not take the rice out of the cloth. When the rice is cooked, they take it out of the water by the hook.
At Badri-nārāyaṇa and Kedarnātha, this is a big hot spring, and people cook there. All around is ice, and people put vegetables, rice or beans in the water tied in cloths. These bundles sinks for a while, and then when cooked, they floats up to the top of the hot spring. Then they are picked out and eaten.
In Vraja-maṇḍala, there are many types of rice of different colors and lengths. Some are light reddish, some brownish, yellow or white; some are long grain and sweet smelling.
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī gives pure ghee on top of the rice, with some Tulasī leaves in some places, and a little lemon juice or small piles of salt. Then it is good for digestion. By using a little lemon, ghee and Tulasī, the rice is easily digested.
The gopīs never throw out the rice water after the rice is boiled. They give it for the cows, and the cows drink this and become very healthy. They also feed it to the baby calves through a bamboo, like a straw. When baby calves are born, they give this rice water when the cows are out grazing and the babies are hungry. Then they become strong and healthy. Dogs also like this rice water so much, as well as cats. The Vrajavāsīs mix a little salt in the water and give it the animals.
Rādhārānī uses basmati rice, makes it into powder, boils it in water, a little salt and ginger, and stirs it up into dough. Then She makes balls, rolls it out and cooks capattis with it. She also uses it for different items like idlī and vāda. They are very white, soft, and fragrant.
She makes anna-rasāvalī. After cooking rice, milk is boiled down and mixed with the rice, along with ghee, raisins, nuts, sugar and spices. Many kinds of sweet rice are prepared.
Yaśodā Mātā watches all the very nice dishes, like hills and lakes. Yaśodā Mātā thinks, “My life is successful today. Kṛṣṇa will be very happy seeing all these wonderful preparations made by Rādhārānī, which are so tasteful.”
Watching the cooking, Yaśodā Mātā announces the glories of Rādhārānī to all, while weeping and praying to the demigods for the long life of her beloved Rādhārānī.
Rādhārānī becomes very shy and hides, not standing in front to hear Her own praise.
Yaśodā Mātā requests Lalitā, “Fan Rādhārānī. She is sweating from the heat and exertion of cooking. Change Her cloth and dry off Her body. She has been working so hard.”
Yaśodā Mātā’s heart melts, and before Kṛṣṇa comes, she wants Rādhārānī and the gopīs to dress and decorate themselves. She feels that Kṛṣṇa will be disturbed seeing them wearing something with stains on it from the kitchen.
Rādhārānī’s cooking puts shame to nectar itself. While She cooks, the aroma goes everywhere and all the demigods, goddesses, sādhakas, who are chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, and remembering vraja-līlā, smell Rādhārānī’s cooking and this gives them training how to be prepared for Kṛṣṇa’s service. This is Rādhārānī’s śakti, power.