Chef Cristian’s East Indian Thanksgiving Dinner

It was November of 1620. Nine months prior to this date, a colony of separatists left England in search of a new land to call home. A land where they could practice their religion, raise their children, and enjoy the freedom that Americans knows today. But it turns out that the Mayflower’s navigator held the compass backwards, and instead of landing in Cape Cod,  they somehow ended up in the bustling city of Thiruvananthapuram on the ardent southern shores of India.

Only half of the pilgrims survived that scorching summer. The rest of the pilgrims hooked up with a guy named Raj Sharma who helped them integrate into this ancient culture. He showed them the ways of India – The arts of barter, trade and of course, the Kama Sutra. What, you don’t believe me? Well, I’m the one writing this article, and this is how the story goes.

Where were we? Oh, yes. So when Thanksgiving came around, the menu was a little different.

The pilgrims roasted chickens inside clay ovens. The birds were rubbed with a mixture of cardamom, cloves, garlic and Kelapo virgin coconut oil (actually from Sri Lanka) to crisp up the skin.

A stuffing was prepared using dhal (a type of lentil) with flat bread crumbs, chicken livers, a spicy curry mixture, golden onions and coconut milk.

The pilgrim women showed the Indians how to make fruit pie using millet flour and they all washed it down with India’s favorite drink – Fenny (liquor made from coconut sap).

By now you’ve guessed that my history lesson is nothing more than fantasy. The menu, however, is fact. This Thanksgiving, why not experiment with a little fusion and add a different twist to your American style dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving! Or as they say in India “Khuśa turkī dina!”


Chef Cristian Feher, Tampa Bay Chef Services

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