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South Indian Inspired Thanksgiving Menu and Recipes

Southern (Indian) Thanksgiving

This story was written by member courtneyd and comes from the Kitchen Goddess group in the YumSugar Community.

For a few years now I've wanted to try to marry the traditional Southern Indian food my husband grew up enjoying with Thanksgiving as I know it (Southern girl with a love of spice and heat). So this year I did a trial run of a tandoori-style turkey made in the oven.

By next year I hope to build my own tandoor, or at least grill this guy, because it needs a little more heat to crisp up properly. Even so, the meal turned out great! Tandoori turkey, tamarind gravy, creamed saag, masala mashed potatoes, and Whole Foods' naan, which has a slight dinner roll texture, so it works out perfectly for this blended meal. The tamarind gravy was an original creation (that I cannot believe turned out properly, it was sooooo good), and the other recipes were either inspired by or taken directly from The Food of India from Whitecap Books. I love their "food of" series, and my husband is impressed with the Indian recipes.


For the turkey, I followed the instructions from November's Martha Stewart Living to spatchcock a turkey and cooked according to their instructions after marinating for about 7 hours. Not including the marinade time, this meal came together in about 2 hours on a Friday night. Also, we discovered New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc complements Indian food perfectly.

To get her recipes for this Southern Indian feast, keep reading.


Tandoori Turkey Marinade (for a 10-12 lb. turkey)

2 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 small onion, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 in. piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 cup thick yogurt (next time I might cut this back by 1/4 cup)

grated rind of 1 lemon

3 tbl lemon juice

2 tbl white vinegar

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp garam masala

1 tbl Indian chili powder (cut this back if you don't want it to be spicy, Indian chili pepper is similar to cayenne, maybe slightly less hot)

  1. Toast then grind the coriander and cumin seeds.
  2. In a food processor or blender, blend all marinade ingredients to a smooth paste.
  3. Season your turkey, then rub the marinade on the turkey and let marinate for 8 hours or overnight.


Tamarind Gravy

1/4 cup ghee (or butter)

1/4 to 1/2 white onion, finely chopped

1 in. fresh ginger, grated

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp Indian chili powder

1 tsp garam masala

salt, to taste

1/4 c flour

2 cups chicken stock

3 tbl tamarind paste

1/2 - 1 tbl brown sugar, to taste

Dash of cinnamon

  1. Heat ghee over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, garlic with a bit of salt and saute until the mixture is soft.
  2. Add the spices and the flour while whisking, and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes after incorporated.
  3. Add the chicken stock and tamarind paste, and simmer until mixture begins to thicken. (If you prefer a thinner gravy, you may want to add more chicken stock.)
  4. Add the brown sugar to your personal taste, along with cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Puree if you want a silky smooth gravy, otherwise serve with the small chunks of onion and ginger.


Creamed Saag

1.5 lbs spinach (frozen or fresh baby spinach)

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp fenugreek

1 tbl oil

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

5 garlic cloves, chopped

1 roma tomato, peeled and chopped

1 in. fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp. garam masala

1/2 c vegetable stock

1/4 c milk or cream

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium low heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, coriander and fenugreek and saute until spices are fragrant.
  2. Stir in the tomato, ginger, and garam masala and continue to cook until onion is soft and tomato is breaking down.
  3. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
  4. Mix vegetable stock and milk or cream, then add to pan. Lower heat and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (but not all).
  5. If you want a more creamy consistency, puree the spinach. Serve warm.


Masala Mashed Potatoes

2 tbl oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

10 curry leaves

1/4 tsp turmeric 1 in. ginger, grated

2 green thai chilies (in my case, 3), finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1.5 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tbl tamarind puree


  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop.
  2. Add curry leaves, turmeric, ginger, chili and onion and cook until the onion is soft.
  3. Add the potato cubes and 1 cup of water, bring to a boil (season with a little salt at this stage), then cover and cook until the potatoes are tender and just breaking up.
  4. Simmer uncovered if there is excess liquid in the pan (there should be a little, but not too much). Add the tamarind paste and salt to taste and stir.
  5. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or the back of a spoon. I prefer to have some chunks left in mine, so I don't mash too much (easier to pick up with the naan).


Do you have an amazing Thanksgiving recipe? Please participate in our Thanksgiving recipe challenge. All you have to do is upload your recipe, an image, and a brief description to the Kitchen Goddess group. If you're lucky, we might just feature your recipe here on YumSugar!

Join The Conversation
Prakash14893977 Prakash14893977 4 years
nice recipe, I like it...
AmberHoney AmberHoney 7 years
courtneyd - I PM'd you.
carmela83 carmela83 7 years
You're married to an Indian guy? How cute!! I'm Indian too and we are non-veg, so we do the annual tandoori turkey. It is simply amazing!
courtneyd courtneyd 7 years
Is lime relish like lime pickle, AmberHoney? Or is it something different? I'm really looking forward to making these turkey croquettes with the leftover turkey and masala potatoes:
AmberHoney AmberHoney 7 years
:drool: Indian food is to die for. I'm going to Patak's website right now trying to incorporate the lime relish into my Thanksgiving this year. It's so delish.
pharm_chick pharm_chick 7 years
huh, i never thought of making an indian style thanksgiving feast! i love it! thanks OP!
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
Sounds delicious.
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