An Indian Thanksgiving Feast and The Guardian

Indian Thanksgiving Feast
We never celebrated Thanksgiving growing up. In fact, I barely knew about the festival before stepping into the US. Then for the first couple years I would more eagerly wait for the day following it than the day itself. You must know why! The Black Friday madness caught me fast. But then one year, slowly the smell of rosemary and lemon stuffed turkey being baked at my neighbor’s house began drifting in through my windows and the laughter of their friends and family was hard not to overhear. The festival slowly began to intrigue me and I had to try and learn more.

Top Sht Chicken
Coming together with your loved ones sounded much like Holi and Diwali, thanking god for his bounty sounded like Sankranti or Baisakhi and enjoying delicious meal sounded exactly like the celebrations I grew up having. And here, oceans away from the family, we have to try a step harder to give our daughter her own family and her own memories. So in our own little way, with a few friends who are like a family now, we started celebrating this beautiful festival.

Murgh Musallam

Recently The Guardian asked a few of us bloggers a simple question. If we can replace one dish from a traditional thanksgiving meal what would it be? Without a doubt, the first thing I thought of was Murgh Musallam. It is a traditional Mughlai specialty that the Mughals brought to India and we welcomed it with open arms. Like the Mughals themselves, this is a rich and regal dish where whole chicken is stuffed and covered in a creamy spice paste. It is then browned on both sides and slowly cooked until tender and juicy.

Spread masala

Like several Indian non-vegetarian specialties, Murgh Musallam was a dish that I learned to cook from Papa. With this Murgh Musallam, I took another take on Papa’s recipe and tried to replace the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. But not just that, I also made two dishes to go with Murgh Musallam and can adorn your Indian Thanksgiving table. For the feast I made green beans poriyal, a simple vegetable pulav and a simple salad. Please visit The Guardian for the recipe for Murgh Musallam. Rest of the recipes from the feast are as follows.

Green Beans Poriyal:
1 lbs fresh green beans (washed, cut to 1″ sizes)
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 dried red chili (whole)
1 teaspoon urad dal (skinless)
1/2 cup dessicated coconut (can use fresh)
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, urad dal and dry chili.
As they sputter, throw in beans. Stir. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add salt. Mix. Cover. Cook until tender, 3-5 minutes.
Add coconut. Stir well to mix. Turn off heat.

Simple Indian Pulav:

1 1/2 cup long grain basmati rice (soak in double the amount of water for 15 minutes)
1 1/2 cups vegetable of choice (I used carrots and peas)
1/2 cup onion (thinly sliced)
2 tablespoon ghee
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 dry bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4-5 cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Drain soaking water from rice. Set aside.
Heat ghee in a pot of large pan with lid.
Add cumin seeds and other whole spiced. As they sputter add onion.  Saute on medium  high heat until light golden.
Add vegetables and salt. Saute for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
Add rice. Stir to coat the rice with ghee. Add 2 1/2 cups water. Bring it to a quick boil on high. Turn the heat to low. Cover and let simmer until rice is cooked.
Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Can add raisins, slivered almonds, cashews or other nuts of choice as garnish. Fry the nuts or dried fruits in ghee before garnishing.

Simple Indian Salad: 
1 medium sized onion (thinly sliced)
1 tomato (thinly sliced)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
thai green chillis
handful of chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper

Toss everything together in a bowl. Serve with the meal.