For those of you who may not know, Ekadasi is a special day that comes around twice a month. On Ekadasi, it is recommended that we not eat grains, peas and beans and it is stated in the Brahmavaivarta that “One who observes Ekadasi is freed from all kinds of reactions to sinful activities, and thereby advances in pious life.”
When you are just starting to follow Ekadasi it may be a little difficult to find things to cook, but once you get the hang of it, it is actually quite easy and also quite yummy. You may feel the need to eat more often as you are not eating grains. For me, the hardest meal of Ekadasi is breakfast, especially since I have to get my daughter breakfast early to send her to school. Many devotees make buckwheat muffins for Ekadasi breakfast but I am just not a morning person and cannot even begin to think about baking muffins at 6 a.m.
Since cereal and porridge is out on Ekadasi, potatoes are usually on the menu. I have found that simply grating a couple of potatoes, adding a little salt and pepper, and then making a grated potato pancake with some ghee in a frying pan is easy, quick and yummy, three requirements for an Ekadasi breakfast. If you are feeling fancy you could sprinkle some cheese in there or on top for extra yum. A potato pancake with some ketchup makes my daughter happy which makes me happy too. If you are buying ketchup make sure that it is grain free as many brands use corn products in their ketchup.
Gauranga potatoes are an old school Ekadasi favorite, which I often make for Ekadasi dinner. Kurma Dasa’s cookbook “Great Vegetarian Dishes” has a fabulous recipe for Gauranga Potatoes that is a favorite at our house. Serve these potatoes with salad and some tomato soup for a great meal.
Another Ekadasi favorite is quinoa. Quinoa is a grain substitute but is not actually a grain. You could substitute quinoa in a meal for rice and have, for example, quinoa and subji on Ekadasi. You could bake some potatoes and serve them with sautéed broccoli and cheese or whatever other toppings you enjoy. Paneer is also a wonderful ingredient for Ekadasi cooking and can be filling. Steamed vegetables are quick, easy and healthy (just make sure you aren’t using beans) and a large salad with a generous sprinkling of nuts and seeds is a good lunch option.
As far as Ekadasi desserts go, my husband made me a fabulous Ekadasi cheesecake for my birthday this year, which just happened to fall on Ekadasi. He made a nut crust with buckwheat which was actually quite delicious. Simply Wonderfuls are Ekadasi friendly cookies and thought by some to be “simply wonderful.” Many devotees also make coconut cookies by adding desiccated coconut to condensed milk with some milk powder and baking until golden on a greased cookie sheet. My mata sometimes makes honey and tahini dessert balls which are both delicious and nutritious.
As you can see, there is no reason to feel limited on Ekadasi as there is a wide variety of foods that can be cooked, offered and eaten on Ekadasi. While Ekadasi may seem like a bit of an inconvenience to some it is actually quite nice to take a break from grains periodically and it is good to sacrifice a little for Krishna.