2010: A Fusion Thanksgiving

This time last year, I was blazing through seasonal dishes as part of my Thanksgiving test kitchen. Old issues of Bon Appetit were unearthed and scoured, calls went out across the country for treasured family recipes, and method after method of preparing turkey was contemplated and discarded. The aim was two-fold: find a truly thirty minute Thanksgiving dinner, and decide what to make for my own–decidedly more elaborate–first Thanksgiving with my now husband.

In 2010, the scope and menu will be decidedly different. A slew of recent travels have put the kibosh on a visit to my east coast friends and family to celebrate the day. So I decided that if I can’t go to my people, I will at least recreate the kind of day we would share. In my youth, Thanksgiving was the time my parents, sister, and I would fly out to see our east coast family, so my memories of Thanksgiving are filled with the warmth, kitsch, and traditions of my grandmother and aunts’ houses. During the day, we would snack on meat and cheese platters while watching movies both old and seasonal and recent and kid-friendly.

So this year, while my own family is hundreds or thousands of miles away, I will carve out a new Thanksgiving with my husband’s family that mixes my treasured memories with new tastes and preferences. I have set him on movie duty, invited my sister-in-law and new cousins to spend the day, and assembled pumpkin spice candles, cornucopias, and the appropriate Thanksgiving kitsch to artfully strew about the tables and bookcases.

The food, however, will be both a return and a new path. I have made Indian food for Thanksgiving in many years past, but this year I want to find a way to make Indian food that is specific to Thanksgiving. Of course there is no such thing, but there is a tradition of only–or at least primarily–eating certain foods only for a specific holiday. Diwali, the joyously illuminated Indian new year, took place last weekend and everyone rushed to pick up sugar-syrup soaked jalebi, gulab jamun, and other Diwali treats for their celebrations. What does an Indian-American family “traditionally” serve at their Thanksgiving celebration?

If you happen to be one such family, I would love to hear your traditions! In the meantime, I’ll be looking for turkey biryani and sweet potato curry recipes.

  1. congrats on the wedding!

    this will be my 4th thanksgiving on the west coast. i am still unfamiliar with not welcoming a heated oven– back in CT, it’s the way you heat the house on turkey day. here, it’s kind of a punishment.
    looking forward to seeing your menu!

  2. Cheryl

    16 November

    Nice to see a new post. Congratulations on your marriage! I am looking forward to your recipes. I do a pretty traditional dinner at Thanksgiving – we celebrate in October. c.

  3. lieslmom

    17 November


    Just dropping by. My dad used to make a tandoori marinade (onion/garlic/ginger paste, toasted then ground-up cumin and red chilis, garam masala, salt and sugar plus yogurt) for the turkey. I remember one year, he actually injected the turkey with a spice mixture in ghee to try to get some flavor in the bird. The sides were always straight-up Indian dishes. No cranberry sauce, stuffing or pumpkin pie, sadly. I put all three on my table – using kalonji/ginger/red chili, cumin/onion/green chili/ginger/coriander leaf, and maple syrup/cloves, nutmeg, cardamom/gingersnap crust respectively to make them fit in with the rest of the meal. Good luch and good eats!

  4. Debarati Dutta

    22 November

    I absolutely love the holiday season in America and before I got married and moved to North Carolina, I used to spend every holiday meal with friends (who eventually became family to me) in Texas. Since many of these holidays meals were potlucks with a never-ending array of foods, I was always responsible for an Indian side dish or a sweet Bengali chutney (that every one looked forward to).

    For the last 3 years or so, I have organized my own holiday dinners for friends and the menu has become more and more Indianized. Last year, we had murg musallam (in stead of the more traditional turkey or ham), a saffron-infused fruit and nut pilaf (brimming with toasted cashew nuts, dried cranberries and apricots), naan, some Indian curries (including a lovely bean dish from Nita Mehta), and a cranberry-apple-and orange relish. For dessert, we had ambrosia (a recipe I learned from my friends in the deep South) and a dessert pizza.

    I want to do a more traditional (that is, American) Thanksgiving this year. Right at the moment, I am planning on making a roasted tomato soup (to chase the winter chills away), stuffed cornish hens marinated in a tandoori masala mix, a Southern corn bread stuffing with sausages, apples, and jalapenos, biscuits (with gravy), roasted garlic mashed potatoes, a light veggie dish (perhaps some steamed green beans or sauteed brussel sprouts), cranberry relish (same as last year), and a sweet potato casserole with a streusel topping. For dessert, we will buy cakes from a wonderful Latino pastry that makes delicious European-styled cakes. However, if I feel inspired (which I doubt I will), I will make a New Orleans styled bread pudding with Kahlua sauce.