I love Thanksgiving. For me, this is an exciting time, a time of getting family and friends together, a time of gratitude and giving thanks for things we have. I remember standing in the kitchen with my mom as she cooked, the great smells emanating from the kitchen, eating all the great food, the laughter, the great conversations ringing through the house, and the early start to Christmas shopping in the malls on Thanksgiving night.
During this reunion of the ones that are closest to us, food serves as not just a medium of nourishment but also a reflection of the cultures and traditions that we have inherited and imbibed.
Turkey and Thanksgiving are inherently intertwined in our collective consciousness and tradition going back to the time when the Pilgrims and Native Indians shared turkey over a meal. But there are other ways of cooking the classic turkey by adding international recipes and flavors.
Going back as far as I can remember, the one tradition we had at our home was to ensure that the Thanksgiving menu was different, fun, new and exciting every single year. We always hosted Thanksgiving at our home and the menu for the upcoming celebration was the topic of debate for weeks in advance. Of course, there was always traditional Turkey – but the topic always was – what were the other new menu items that mom was dreaming up this year. And mom was a great cook with a passion for cooking, for hosting, for looking after each and every guest and most importantly, for that creative spark that inspired her year after year.
In this blog entry, I am highlighting an international themed Thanksgiving menu. I remember all the fun menu items at our home and my goal was to come up with something as creative and exciting. I learnt a lot during this process about these international recipes and curating what is hopefully a fun, exciting international themed menu.
Braised Turkey in Green mole sauce
I came across this Mexican inspired dish and it seemed very interesting for the flavors that were in the dish. Green mole sauce is made with chilies, garlic and onions so there is lot of flavor in this sauce that seeps into the turkey. Some people make mole sauce from dried chilies which takes time and is well worth the effort. Mole’s flavor improves with age. It keeps for about a week in the refrigerator and about a month in the freezer.
Arancini (Deep Fried Italian Rice Balls)
A traditional Italian street food, this looks like a very tasty yet easy Italian recipe. Rice balls with cheese and saffron. Prep and cooking time of about 30 minutes.
Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta
In this Italian inspired stuffing, Italian ciabatta bread is combined with Pancetta (Italian bacon), chestnuts, parsley, onions, carrots, garlic, and rosemary to make this stuffing. Total prep and cook time of about 1 Hour 30 mins.
Masala Mashed Potatoes
In this Indian themed mashed potatoes dish, ginger, onions, curry leaves, mustard seeds, Thai chilies and tamarind are combined with potatoes. Delectable!
Green Beans Poriyal
Mustard seeds, chilies, grated coconut, urad dal combine with green beans in this South Indian styled green beans dish. I think the chilies and the mustard seeds give the traditional green beans a great spicy kick while the coconut grating provides the cooling effect.
A Central American and Mexican themed take on the traditional cornbread. This dish combines cilantro, jalapeno, cumin and buttermilk to give cornbread an exotic and spicy tasty.
Bibingka (Filipino Rice/Coconut Dessert)
Bibingka is a Filipino dessert made of rice flour and coconut. Rich, buttery coconut flavor with a crust and chewy egg center. This dish is a very popular Filipino dessert served at all gatherings and can be a great international themed dessert.
In the recipes highlighted above, the base ingredient is what we typically come to expect from our traditional Thanksgiving meal – the turkey, green beans, corn, potatoes, stuffing. This was a great learning experience for me in terms of how the best of traditions can be combined with an international recipes for a global themed menu. Hope you enjoyed it too!
- A Short Course on the History of 8 Thanksgiving Foods, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/a-short-course-on-the-history-of-8-thanksgiving-foods/2013/11/22/944b345e-40b3-11e3-9c8b-e8deeb3c755b_story.html
- Spark Recipes, Eat Better, https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=700168