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.


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  2. I recently got married to a catholic girl from a western country. This would provide the perfect meal for our next family reunion. Thank you so much!

  3. Its fantastic and fabulous recipe i prepared it for my family they really enjoyed it a lot. Thanks for posting such type of recipe. love you…and waiting for the next post.

  4. I tried to leave a comment from my iPhone when you first posted this, but for some reason, it never works… I loved this beautiful spread you prepared for the Guardian – congrats, my friend. muah muah x s

  5. This is so CREATIVE! I love that you used Indian spices for the turkey. I just whined about our Indo-American Thanksgiving on my blog, but the turkey we got from boston market was so bland. I think this is the way to go next year. Happy Thanksgiving and I’m glad you are now celebrating. It really is about friends/family, eating, and being grateful! :-)

  6. Just discovered your blog and love it! I love indian food and I visit a local Indian store but find it to be a little overwhelming when I’m not too sure what everything is :) Your recipes are so simple and clear and the photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing, these dishes sound amazing!

  7. Congrats Prerna on your feature in the Guardian. Such great news. When is your cookbook coming out? I am eagerly waiting for it. The pictures are awe inspiring. Truly a Thankgiving meal, desi style

  8. You made a beautiful replacement to the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and you family.