All day, I dream of shavasana, the ‘corpse pose’ in yoga practice where you lie on your back with your arms and legs spread, eyes closed, breathing slowly and deeply. At the end of a practice, shavasana allows the entire body to recover from all that stretching, turning and moving. It helps lower the heart rate, decrease blood pressure and muscle tension. All you need to do is lie there and do nothing. Shavasana is reward for showing up and completing the yoga practice.
The only thing better than shavasana after a strenuous yoga session is to eat food that is wholesome and pleasing to the heart; food that has been prepared with love. Bhakti Tree serves such food at lunch and dinner, often after yoga or a meditation session.
Perhaps you remember the Hare Krishna restaurant up the stairs from the old Showcase Cinema in Wolfe Street, Newcastle? Bhakti Tree is Govinda reincarnated, at the western end of Maitland Road, Mayfield, and is still committed to serving sincere and sumptuous vegetarian and vegan food prepared with love (Bhakti).
The yoga/mediation cum café cum restaurant space, reflects the eclectic, albeit logical, activities the Bhakti Tree hosts daily. At night, the space is dimly lit and ambient with the sound of meditative mantra music; soft voices chanting Hare Krishna to soothing mystical melodies and steady rhythms that audibly ebb and flow out of your consciousness while you sit and eat and sip and talk.
Bhakti Tree is mostly run by volunteers who greet you at the door with a gentle smile and “hello” before showing you to a table and explaining how the herbivorous Bhakti buffet works.
On Thursdays, dinner is $15 a person for all you can eat. You can eat as little or as much you like, however, in order to avoid wasting food, it’s important to be mindful about portion sizes. Drinks are a little extra, and include teas, organic juices, soft drinks, and lassi … deliciously creamy lassi, with flavours like mango, banana, berry, and rose. The yoghurt used to make the lassi is from milk harvested from the New Gokula Hare Krishna community farm in the Hunter Valley. Try the mango lassi, it tastes exactly like a melted Weiss bar. Delicious. The rose lassi is like liquefied lokum (Turkish delight). Super yum, like the food.
Under a few dimly lit globes suspended from two long sticks tied together in a V, the food is self-served from oblong-shaped serving dishes, which are warm with piles of fragrant basmati rice, spiced roast pumpkin and potatoes, and an aromatically enticing vegetable curry. A big bowl of garden salad and stacks of crispy pappadums complete tonight’s inspired line up of lovingly nourishing food.
Pile your plate with everything, or try a little of each before being inevitably lured back. The vibrant yellow stained basmati rice plays beyond its usual supporting role to become a featured dish; herbaceous, unctuous, soft and delicate. The vegetable curry is warming and harmonious, composed of soft zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, lentils, dahl and a kiss of chili. Serve with a delicious ladleful of whole roasted pumpkin and sweet potatoes. The leafy green salad is vibrant with thin strips of carrot and threads of raw beetroot, small, crispy pieces of apple and mixed green lettuce drizzled with revitalising lemon dressing. Dessert is included. This time it’s a simply toothsome scoop of banana semolina pudding called halwa.
Each dish is truly, madly, deeply fragrant and flavoursome with traditional Indian seasoning and spices; cardamom, cumin, clove, turmeric, nutmeg, chili and black pepper; the chef simply riffing off tried and true flavours from the South Asian subcontinent.
You don’t need to know of the stillness of shavasana, the foundations of flow, or any yoga move for that matter. And you don’t need a lot of money, either. You just need to go to the Bhakti Tree to eat and feel the love intrinsic to their soul food.
- What: Bhakti Tree
- Where: 410 Maitland Rd, Mayfield
- Owners: Hare Krishna Food for Life Hunter Valley Inc. Managers: Abhay Charan Das, Jayanti Devi Dasi, and Brett Saunders.
- Drinks: Homemade lassi and lemonade, soft drinks, juice, tea etc.
- Hours: Lunch: Tues-Sat; 11:30am-2pm, Dinner: Thurs; 5:30-8pm, Sat 6pm-8pm (see thebhaktitree.org.au)
- Bottom Line: $45 for two (incl. drinks)
- Do Try: Everything.