2020 Thanksgiving with a Twist

I love tradition.

Tradition adds meaning to what would otherwise be mundane. Sometimes, tradition impels us to do things we might not otherwise bother to do. It can seem pedantic and boring. But tradition can also make a simple event seem potent and imbued with significance. I, for one, love the idea of carrying on, as has been done for generations.

Thanksgiving is about as traditional as a holiday gets. Without digging into the historical narratives that shaped the holiday, it is an event that brings families together at the table every year. I love the idea of being thankful. I hope we do that every day. Family is another aspect that is important to me, so perhaps it’s no wonder I enjoy this holiday so much. Turkey may not be my favorite fowl, but doggone it, as a proud American, I’m going to chow down! And let’s have some pumpkin pie too, please. Together with family, Thanksgiving is an awesome tradition to uphold.

But this T-Day, things are not going to be as traditional as years past. That’s OK. One can always adapt. We usually have a large family gathering with my husband’s family, including parents, cousins, nieces and nephews and lots of siblings. That won’t happen this year. Thanks, Covid! My husband and I plan to have a small group over for a safe meal (hopefully weather will permit al fresco). And since we are adapting, perhaps we can find a new take on the typically roasted turkey. It’s not bad, but it’s not a taste sensation either. This year, I’m going to add some of my own culture to the bird.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme are delicious. But how about: Ginger, Garlic, Lime, Onion, Tomato, Turmeric, Coriander, Cumin, Clove, Cardamon and Pepper? Turkey is not a typical Bengali or Indian dish, but even our culture’s traditional foods can be adapted. Why not?

Interested? Here is a list of South Asian inspired recipes that you might try for your non-traditional Turkey Day. Or make your own. I hope you have more fun with this turkey than you’ve been able to in past years.

And I hope that next year we can all gather together again, in a traditional large family format. The hugs will be even tighter when we get back to our regular tradition.


For this menu author tried to think of ways I could spice up traditional Thanksgiving ingredients, including the turkey, gravy and green beans. Pumpkin is in a curry and the cranberry sauce is more of a chutney. All the traditional elements are there, they’re just a little bit more flavorful. 


Scalloped Potatoes With Coconut Milk and Chilies
by Raghavan Iyer

An Indian-inspired version of the French classic, layered with eye-opening flavors (yes, it hurts so good), this is a great side dish with any of the meat offerings.


Tandoori Turkey Recipe
by Raj Thandhi

To add a little spice and South Asian flavour to the meal author used a traditional tandoori marinade and did a spicy pulao with Indian yams as a side dish, and both were a hit!


Turkey roulade stuffed with mushroom-cranberry and served with apple cider gravy
by Saffron Streaks


Roasted Potatoes with East Indian Spices
by Joanna Cismaru

A super easy, fresh and delicious recipe for Roasted Potatoes with East Indian Spices. Indian spiced potatoes get a new flavor dimension with the addition of mint, cilantro and lime juice.


Indian (inspired) thanksgiving menu
by Nisha

For the appetizers, the author has a very delicious line-up of dishes made just for you. The classic momos or dumplings marinated in tandoori masala and grilled to perfection. The super crunchy arancinis with a spicy twist and spring rolls to make this Indian thanksgiving dinner extra delicious.


Green Bean Chili Garlic

Recipe reprinted from Rasika: Flavors of India by Ashok Baja, Vikram Sunderam, and David Hagedorn

This is a quick stir fry that’s packed with flavor, thanks to fresh and dried chilies, lots of onions, and ginger. 


An Indian Thanksgiving Feast
By Prerna Singh

If we can replace one dish from a traditional Thanksgiving meal what would it be? Without a doubt, the first thing the author thought of was Murgh Musallam. It is a traditional Mughlai specialty that the Mughals brought to India and we welcomed it with open arms. 


Pumpkin Naan
by Navjot Arora

Pumpkin naan from chef Navjot Arora of Indian soul food restaurant Old Monk is certainly a novel way to use fall’s favorite fruit, and an inspired autumnal spin on an Indian classic. The pumpkin puree lends a hint of earthy sweetness and a subtle orange shade (which you can bump up with a pinch of red food coloring) to the soft, puffy flatbread. 


Vegan Chai Spice Poached Pear Cake
by Kaity Farrell

As author claims, Chai spice is everything (sorry/not sorry, pumpkin spice). And chai spice cake stuffed with luscious poached pears is the cake to end all autumnal cakes.


Indian Pudding
by Alex Guarnaschelli

Early colonists brought with them to America a fondness for British “hasty pudding,” a dish made by boiling wheat flour in water or milk until it thickened into porridge. Since wheat flour was scarce in the New World, settlers adapted by using native cornmeal, dubbed “Indian flour,” and flavoring the resulting mush to be either sweet (with maple syrup or molasses) or savory (with drippings or salted meat).


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This post was written by Rumana Jabeen

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