I really feel like I'm talking to Vajrayana practitioners when we talk about tormas.
JKhedrup wrote:Tsampa is the best but not always available in Western settings.
I would only recommend oatmeal for tormas that you would use for a maximum of two days or so because as it dries out it will crack. If you need to keep the torma around for awhile, you probably need to look for tsampa.
Khedrup--we put a glaze of ghee on the tormas to keep them from cracking... but mold will eventually become an issue in a hot wet climate.
We developed a technique in druptra to prepare for big events that needed hundreds of tormas. First we made torma dough ---quick oats, tor dzey, water, and corn oil in a mixer. Add a lot of salt, maybe 25% of the oat quantity, and mix in the mixer until smooth. The resultant torma will dry slowly over days and weeks from the outside in, and -- based on Christmas tree ornaments made this way by children--last for decades, and never crack. If we want to speed the process up, we put the torma in a turned off oven over night to get a good crust on it before painting. This way you can start preparing for a big ceremony months ahead of time, instead of the Tibetan technique of having a group of super-heroes staying up all night for days before the event.
Down side: Red food coloring turns brown from the salt. We use house paint for them--it's cheap to have gallons of it premixed to the lamas color preferences on hand. It's pretty much like acrylic paint, but far cheaper. These tormas have lasted for over a year on the shrine.... could have gone longer, but the lamas may want to make new ones at some point. We're still brain-storming ideas for less toxic paints for them.