Gauranga’s Sankirtana Feast includes several preparations mentioned in Caitanya-caritamrta, which describes Lord Caitanya’s ecstatic sankirtana pastimes throughout Bengal and Orissa. In Srila Prabhupada’s translation and purports of Madhya lila 41:44, we read that Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya arranged to bring Lord Caitanya maha-prasada from the Jagannatha temple, offering the Lord special rice and first-class vegetables on golden plates. The Lord asked Sarvabhauma to distribute the most opulent preparations to the other devotees, and to give him only boiled vegetables. Srila Prabhupada describes this preparation: “Laphra-vyanjana is a preparation in which many vegetables are boiled together, and then a chenka is added, consisting of spices like cumin, black pepper and mustard seed.” In his purport to Madhya lila 12:167, Srila Prabhupada says, “Laphra-vyanjana is a combination of several green vegetables all mixed together. It is often mixed with rice and delivered to poor men.”
On hearing Lord Caitanya’s proposition, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya said "Today, all of you please try to taste the lunch just as Lord Jagannatha accepted it." In this way, Mahaprabhu was encouraged to join all the devotees in accepting the various cakes and condensed-milk preparations.
Mentioned elsewhere in Caitanya-caritamrta we read that Lord Caitanya was offered a preparation with “newly grown leaves of nimba (neem) trees fried with eggplant”, and that He savoured the bitter taste of shukta even over the aromatic nectar drink panchamrita. We’ve included two bitters in this menu, Neem Baigan and Stuffed Bitter Melon, for the Lord's pleasure.
On the first Goura Purnima Srila Prabhupada celebrated in America, he taught his disciples how to prepare several dishes loved by Lord Caitanya, all of which find a place on this feast menu in some variation, including: Amrita Madhura, Payasa, Bhaji, Charchari, and Ananas Kismish Chatni. The chutney recipe comes from “Lord Krishna’s Cuisine”, and the Bhaji and Charchari recipes are popular throughout Bengal. The Bhat Payasa comes from the Jagannath Temple in Puri, and the recipe is 2,000 years old. Kurma das has posted a very interesting article about the recipe.
Sak (spinach) was much-favoured by Lord Caitanya, and we read that it was served to Him during His travels through Jarikhanda forest. The Buttered Sak goes very nicely with this Orissan version of Aloo Puri, Khaman Dhokla, and simple Saffron Rice. The Dhokla is featured here not only because it’s a lovely savoury, but is a recipe that’s very simple and fast to make.
The recipe for Benediction Moon Samosas was created for one of our Gaura Purnimas, as a reminder of the moonlike luster of the Lord’s appearance. Both the golden stuffing and celestial shape of these samosas make them nice for this feast. And, because they’re baked rather than fried, they’re simple to make and serve hot for the offering. They’re wonderful with the Green Mango Raita, which was popular in various towns and villages visited by the Lord.
The Amrita Madhura, another prep mentioned in Caitanya-caritamrita, is a recipe made famous by the temple cooks at Sri Radha Banabihari Mandir. It is similar to Shrikhand, but very aromatic. Finally, the Doi Anaras is a smooth tropical Bengali beverage that will round out the Sankirtana Feast. Gaura Purnima prasad, ki jai!