Thanksgiving: Old Traditions, New Recipes

My first encounter with Mr. Gobble was on my very first day in the U.S.A. I walked into my husband’s apartment from the airport, with a heart filled with hope. The refrigerator had a ‘Welcome Home’ sign, and some delicious food from his friends. I casually opened the freezer door…and there he was, looking straight at me. He was 12 lbs of sheer fat…huge alright! “Who is that?” I asked. “Oh! yah! That’s a turkey”, said my husband, and paused “from last year”. My jaw dropped!

Thank You America!Life here was filled with this, and many more interesting surprises. My first Thanksgiving was in Dallas, TX. The tradition at our cousin’s place was that the men would cook the Thanksgiving meal. We (the women) hung out, sipping margaritas. I learnt then that my husband could chop onions. The next year it was a “Tandoori Turkey”. A year later the turkey gave way to a stuffed chicken.

As we embrace this All-American tradition, we have all adapted it to reflect our own individuality. One tradition we follow is to give thanks to everyone who has touched our lives in different ways. Another tradition is donating to our local food bank, and volunteering at the shelter.

The traditional Thanksgiving meal includes a Whole Roasted Turkey (with stuffing), Cranberry Relish, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, a Vegetable, Dinner Rolls and Pumpkin Pie.

Here are some recipes that I use, for a “Thanksgiving with a New Twist”:

Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup Serving: 4-6

Butter Nut SquashIngredients
Butternut Squash 2 (cut into halves, seeds removed)
Olive Oil 1 Tbsp
Onion 1 small (chopped fine)
Fresh Ginger 2 tsp
Vegetable Stock 4 cups
Orange Juice ¼ cup
Salt and Pepper to taste
Chives and crème fraiche garnish

Preheat oven 400 deg. Brush the outer skin of the squash with oil and place it on a baking sheet and bake it for 35-40 minutes until tender. Scoop out the cooked pulp and discard the skin.

Heat the oil in a stock pot and sauté the onions until translucent. Now add the fresh ginger, stock and the cooked squash pulp and season with salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil. Remove and puree the soup to an even smooth texture. Add orange juice and mix. Check seasonings. Serve hot with a small dollop of crème fraiche and sprigs of chives.

Sweet Potato Fries Servings : 4-6

Sweet Potatoes 1 lb (peeled, cut into 1inch matchsticks)
Olive Oil 2-3 Tbsp
Brown sugar 1 Tbsp
Cayenne Pepper 1/8 tsp
Salt to taste

Sweet potato friesPreheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the olive oil, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and salt in a large bowl and toss in the match stick sweet potatoes till al the sticks are coated. Place them on a sheet in a single layer and bake them in the oven for about 10 minutes and then turn or flip the potatoes and bake it for another 10 minutes. See that they are evenly brown.

Cool them and serve with sour cream ginger dip.

Sour Cream Ginger Dip

Sour Cream ½ cup
Fresh Ginger 1 tbsp (peeled and grated)
Orange juice 1 Tbsp
Salt to taste
Paprika garnish

Mix the sour cream, ginger orange juice and salt. Place it in a serving bowl and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Sprinkle some paprika, just before serving.

Mashed Potatoes

Potato Facts: Potatoes are made of starch and water. Starchy potatoes like russet give a fluffy mash potatoes, but not as tasty. Waxy potatoes are less starchy and therefore taste better, but over mixing makes it gooey.

Mashed PotatoesIngredients: Servings: 6-8
Potato 2 pounds (peeled and cut into big cubes)
Hot Milk ½ to ¾ cup
Butter 1 Tbsp
Salt and Pepper To taste

Place the cut potatoes in a large pot with cold water and add salt. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until tender ( about 12 to 15 minutes)
Drain the excess water out and place the potatoes on low heat until all the moisture has evaporated. You can also do this by placing the potatoes in a warm oven.
Mash the cooked potatoes with a masher, or grate the potatoes through a ricer( looks like a giant garlic press), enough to get a smooth even texture. Now add the hot milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Add ins and Variations:

1. Add fresh herbs like chives, or parsley.
2. Ethnic Touches: Mexican: Sauté ¼ cup of pasilla chillies (seeds removed and finely chopped) add this with fresh cilantro and cheddar cheese to the mashed potatoes and mix.
Indian: Heat a tsp of oil add black mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add this along with a Tbsp of fresh cilantro (chopped) and 1 green Thai chilli chopped fine.
3. Variation: Place the mashed potatoes in a greased/buttered baking dish and sprinkle a mixture of freshly grated parmesan cheese ¼ cup, bread crumbs ¼ cup with fresh herbs mix (parsley, basil chopped fine) and bake it in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes.

Cranberry Chutney Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Oil 1 Tbsp
Red Onions ½ cup finely chopped
Fresh ginger ½ tsp grated
Fresh Cranberries 12 oz bag
Water ¼ cup
White Sugar ½ cup
Cayenne Pepper ¼ tsp
Garam masala ¼ tsp
All spice ¼ tsp
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan and sauté the chopped onions until golden brown. Add all the other ingredients, ginger, cranberries, water, white sugar, cayenne, garam masala, all spice and the salt. Stir and keep cooking, until the cranberries are cooked and mushy (about 10 minutes) and lower the heat. Check for seasoning and adjust.

Serve As: Appetizer: A cracker, with a slice of havarti cheese and small dollop of this chutney.
Spread: It can be used as a spread on sandwiches.

About the Bird

If you can’t cook it, just buy it cooked! You can still have a great Thanksgiving experience without the stress. Try your local Whole Foods or Draegers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving: Old Traditions, New Recipes

  1. Praba-
    I can’t wait to try the Sweet Potato Fries & Ginger Dip!!! Sounds super yummy with a little kick, and I never would have thought of it!

    I am so Thankful for you – Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Praba,

    Instead of my usual thanksgiving sweet potato goo, I am going to make your innovative sweet potato fries this time. I am sure this will result in fewer guests choking at our table. Also, I have decided to add some chilli powder and other spices to enhance the kick. My non-Indian guests hopefully will be pleasantly(?) surprised by the covert entry of these alien ingredients into an otherwise traditional meal.

    Happy Thanksgiving,


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