Divali starts the festive season. Actually, Dussehra does. And now it is Thanksgiving, and all the blogs are reflecting this. Since most of the Indian food-bloggers are US based, it is all over the Indi-blogs as well, and we can safely assume, it is now another Holiday we can lay claim to. And Indians never shy away from embracing a Holiday – another day to goof off from work, another day to partay!
Holi, Divali, Eid, Ramzan, Gupurab, Christmas, and New Year – they are all as Indian as chai. And we are beginning to get attached to Valentine’s Day as well! The Government of India presently has seventeen (!) official Holidays in a year!
The first time I found out about this very American holiday, I was intrigued that it did not involve religion! It does involve ‘the Pilgrims’ though – but that is just another word for colonisers, no? Most of us associate this holiday with ‘giving thanks’, but the truth may have become ‘coloured’ over time. For some perspective you can look up No Thanks to Thanksgiving, and if it is too ‘coloured’ for you, this article in the Seattle Times tells us a bit about the real Thanksgiving menu!
Kamla got me thinking about what Thanksgiving means to me (and you can listen to the podcast interview!); I can tell you that it is about sharing what you have and also about accepting what is different in others. That is something I personally experienced in all the Thanksgivings I spent in the US. My friends shared their tradition, their home, and food with me. In fact, on my first Thanksgiving, I was a total stranger to the host family. And yet there I was, with my kheer*, featured on their hand-made menu cards, which we all signed at the end of the long laid-back lunch. I still have mine!
The menu today, authentic or not, featured potatoes (mashed potatoes), corn (cornbread with cumin and coriander), carrots (baked carrot fries), stir-fried vegetables, and mango relish. The turkey was missing, and I would have loved to use the drippings to make the gravy for the mashed potatoes. Since last year, turkeys have become available at the INA Market in Delhi. And one small turkey is my entire year’s chicken, mutton, and fish budget, combined! Thanks but no, thanks.
Bring on the food – it’s Thanksgiving! And thank you, America, for sharing your tradition with me.
1 C cornmeal (I used makki ka atta)
3/4 C all purpose flour
1/4 C sooji (semolina)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t roasted cumin powder
1/2 t coriander powder
3/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 hot green chilli, chopped very fine
1 C corn kernels, creamed
1/2 C corn kernels
1/2 C beaten dahi (yoghurt)
1/2 C milk (I used 3%, use whole milk if you have)
1 T melted butter
2 T oil
Preheat oven to 375 (Gas Mark 7). Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl mix the wet ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Pour into an oiled 8″ oven proof dish and bake for 25-30 min, till a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
The corn kernels add a wonderful sweetness and texture to the bread, and the spices make it so Indian!
My Mashed Potatoes
I mentioned these in Five Things to Eat Before You Die, and here is the recipe! I have never measured anything for this recipe, so this is my best guess!
3/4 kg (1.5 lb) floury potatoes
1 C (or more) hot milk (the richer, the better!)
3-6 T butter (the more the better, naturally)
1 t salt
lots of fresh ground pepper
Scrub the potatoes and dice. With new potatoes, I do not peel, but it is up to you. Put the potatoes in a heavy pan, cover with water and bring to boil. Cover and cook till done (they should begin to crumble at the edges a bit). Drain and put the pan back on the burner and stir around for a minute or two to dry off additional moisture. Mash with a masher. A potato ricer is recommended but I have never used one. Add the salt, the butter, and the pepper and fluff the potatoes with a fork, or a hand mixer (not a hand blender!) if you prefer them smoother, gradually adding the warmed milk. Adjust seasoning and add more milk if needed.
These are your basic mashed potatoes. You could always fancy them up by adding smashed garlic, minced chipotle pepper, spices…but being Indian, I find this starts to make them resemble the usual potato stuffing we make for paranthas and the like. It seems ‘exotic’ to me when it is plain! Let the butter and pepper do their magic. Serve with some gravy made from turkey drippings, if you made some roast turkey!
Baked Carrots Fries
based on this recipe by Heidi of 101 Cookbooks
carrots (I used about a dozen), peeled and cut into two lengthways
salt (1/2 t)
olive oil (2 T)
Toss the carrots in salt and olive oil. Be generous with the oil. Nuke in the microwave for 3 min. Transfer to a cast iron pan and bake, cut side down, for 25-30 min in a 350 F oven (Gas Mark 6).
The carrot ‘fries’ were a surprise. For a dish so simple, they were very flavourful and everyone loved them. The caramelization brought out a very unique flavour in the carrots . Difficult to express (nutty?) – make’em and taste for yourself.
What I used:
1 1/2 C green bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 C tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 C broccoli florets
2 red onions, chopped
8 (small) cloves garlic, smashed
1 T dark soy sauce
1/2 t Italian herb-mix
chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 T olive oil
1/2 t sugar
the colourful mix of veges
Heat the oil in a cast iron pan. Add the garlic; as it sizzles, add the onions. Cook on medium heat till the onions are transparent. Now add all the other vegetables and stir around for a few minutes. Add the sugar, the herbs, pepper, and the soy sauce. Stir another minute or so. Add salt and the cilantro. Stir till mixed and remove to serving dish. The vegetables will be crunchy and coated with a light caramelized sauce.
2 T mango jam
2-3 T water
red chili flakes
Even though there was no turkey, I decided to make a relish. I took the pan in which I had made the vegetable stir-fry, and added a couple of tablespoons of my Mango-Lemon jam from last season, 3 T of water, 1/2 t of red chilli flakes, and some salt. I let this boil for a couple of minutes to infuse all the flavours. The residual soy-caramel from the veges gave a wonderful undertone of smoky-ness and a deepened colour to the mango relish. If only I had turkey! But it was great with everything else on our plates.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
* Okay, so this is the second Kashmiri dessert there is (2 of 3! You know the first, if you have been following this blog). Now there is kheer and then there is my kheer! I’ll part with the recipe soon enough…and then reveal the third, and final, dessert.