The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 16, 2007


Spice up your Thanksgiving dinner, Indian style

Being in America for many years now, I have learned to appreciate a variety of culinary flavors. However, when it comes to cooking for special occasions with families and friends, it's important to me to have chopped a few onions, minced a lot of ginger and sprinkled a few Indian spices to get a sense of accomplishment. In addition, the aroma that lingers while cooking triggers my sense of nostalgia and reminds me of the extravagant dishes my mom cooked for festivals back home.

So, for many Thanksgivings now I have always tried to incorporate a little of east India in all my dishes, and this Thanksgiving is no exception.

I am sharing with the Mosquito a full Thanksgiving menu: recipes that I have collected and in some cases improvised over the years. Each dish includes a touch of Indian spices. (Ingredients available in Indian stores are italicized.)

Khatta Mitta nuts (spicy and sweet)
Birds nest
Yogurt and cucumber salad
Beet salad
Side dishes
Green beans with coconut
Baked sweet potatoes
Main course
Turkey with spice rub
Mango mousse

Khatta Mitta nuts

Can be made three days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Ingredients needed to make 1 1/2 cup of nuts:

2 T. canola oil or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. fresh ground ginger
1/2 tsp. curry powder or 1/4 tsp. garam masala powder
1/4 tsp. amchoor powder (dried green mango powder)
2 T. sugar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 T. honey
2 cups of nuts of your choice: walnut halves, cashew halves, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts

1. Line baking sheet with foil. Lightly oil foil. Heat 2 T. oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat.

2. Add ginger, curry powder and the rest of the powders; sauté until fragrant, about 5 seconds. Stir in sugar and honey. Add nuts. Stir until honey mixture is amber in color and nuts are well coated, about 6 minutes.

3. Transfer nut mixture to prepared baking sheet. Working quickly, separate nuts with spoon so they don't stick together. Sprinkle with salt. Cool.

Turkey with spice rub

For a 14- to 16-lb turkey:
3/4 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
3/4 tsp. coriander seeds, toasted and ground
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 T. vegetable oil plus additional for greasing pan
2 T. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne powder

Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Mix the rub in a blender. Rub it evenly in turkey cavities. Take a piece of plastic wrap and wrap it around your index finger. Use the plastic and your finger to separate the skin from the bird. Massage the rub under the skin as well. Fold neck skin under body and, if desired, secure with metal skewer, then tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks together with heavy kitchen string.

For the glaze, mix honey (or just sugar water) and toasted ground cumin. Toward the end of the baking, brush the glaze on the outside skin. Do this several times for a nice, spicy varnish to the skin that not only looks great, but tastes great too.

Yogurt and cucumber salad

serves 20
1 cup plain nonfat or whole-milk yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup coarsely grated seedless cucumber
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted
1 T. canola oil
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 small scallion, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh cilantro leaves
black pepper, to taste
1/2 red tomato diced (optional)

1. Peel cucumber. Grate with hand grater using the large holes. Squeeze out any extra liquid.

2. Toast cumin seeds for a few seconds in a small, heavy frying pan over high heat.

3. In a bowl, stir yogurt and sour cream until it is smooth. Mix it with the cumin, garlic, chopped scallions, cilantro leaves and diced tomato.

4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour but no longer than 3. Stir well before serving. Sprinkle with paprika and salt to taste before serving.

Green beans with coconut

serves 10
1 pound green beans, cut into 1/2- inch size pieces
a pinch of ground asafetida
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 T. canola oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 small branch of curry leaves, about 10 leaves
1T. lemon juice
2 T. fresh cilantro leaves
4 T. grated fresh coconut (in freezer section)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
1/2 tsp. urad dal
black pepper and salt, to taste

1. Heat oil and add mustard seeds. Close lid immediately (mustard seeds will splatter as they heat up).

2. Add asafetida, followed by curry leaves, close the lid again for 1 second.

3. With lid open add urad dal and fry till they turn lightly brown. Add onions, fry till lightly brown, and follow with green beans, salt and cayenne powder. Now close lid.

4. Cooking time for green beans will vary and should take roughly 10 minutes. Remove lid when you know the green beans are cooked.

5. Add lemon juice and grated coconut, stir well. Sprinkle cilantro leaves just before serving.

Baked sweet potatoes

serves 10
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, cut into circular slices with skin on
3 T. melted butter
1/4 tsp. cinnamon powder
1 tsp. brown sugar
2 T. chopped pecans

1. Mix melted butter with cinnamon powder and brown sugar.

2. Use pastry brush and brush both sides of the potato slices with the butter mixture.

3. Place slices on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil to keep the moisture in.

4. Remove the foil, turn the slices, sprinkle some pecans on the top and bake for another 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.

Beet salad

serves 10
3 beets, medium size, peeled and cut into small bite-size pieces
2 T. canola oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 small branch of curry leaves, about 10 leaves
1 tsp. curry powder
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. fresh cilantro leaves
black pepper and salt, to taste

1. Heat oil and add mustard seeds. Close lid immediately, mustard seeds will splatter as they heat up.

2. Add curry leaves , close the lid again for couple of seconds.

3. Add beet pieces, curry powder and salt to taste. Close lid and cook for about 5 minutes and then add lemon juice. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until beets are soft. You can add a little water if there is not enough moisture.

4. Sprinkle with cilantro and black pepper before serving.

Birds nest

serves 20
Filling can be mixed 3 hours in advance and placed in the refrigerator.
Any store-bought garlic and onion spreadable cheese, 16 oz. tub
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. paprika powder
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
4 T. chives, coarsely chopped
1 bag tortilla scoops or 20 pre-baked mini Fillo shells

Mix cheese with lemon juice and paprika powder. When ready to serve, use pastry bag and pipe mixture into the scoops or shells. Sprinkle red peppers and chives on top.

Mango mousse

serves 20
1 can of Mango Pulp
1 tub of whipped cream cheese
1 can of condensed milk
1 small tub of Cool Whip

Shaved chocolate

Mix all of the above in a blender or food processor and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate before serving.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito