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My Thanksgiving table 2011

When November rolls around, so do a slew of events preparing you for the short cold days ahead. The first weekend is 'extended' by an hour thanks to  daylight savings, which brings on a spot of depressing evenings with the sun disappearing under the horizon an hour early (yes, it does rise an hour early as well, but no one bothers to take that into account). the leaves litter the lawn, and thoughts turn to the preparation of that time honored American event. Thanksgiving.
The nice part about thanksgiving is that there is a list of ingredients that are staples on the festive table, pumpkin (pie), cranberry (jellied or in sauce form), brussel sprouts (roasted), Green beans (casserole), turkey (roasted), & ham, corn (cornbread), apples (cider & pie), chestnuts.. of course, there is no set rule that corn HAS to be in the form of cornbread, or cranberry must absolutely be jellied.. Of course, being vegetarian, no turkey or other recipes with meat on the table!

My recipes from last year's thanksgiving included an 'Iyer-n-chef' Roulade (inspired by a dish from Chef Michael Symons show 'Cook like an Iron Chef'), Roasted pumpkin & fennel soup (with a vegetable dip), Brussels sprouts stir fried South Indian style with toasted coconut, and of course, Traditional apple pie.

 I've yet to finish my entire repertoire of thanksgiving offerings in their final avatars. (the side dish I made with roasted chestnuts got polished off before I could reach for the camera, .. you get the drift), but here's some dishes that I'm bringing to the Virtual Thanksgiving table hosted by Food Network

This pair of savory & sweet dishes are inspired by classic  South Indian one pot rice dishes known as 'Pongal'. Made in both sweet & savory versions, the main ingredient in the traditional version is rice and split dehusked mung and are made during harvest festivals as a gesture of thanksgiving. The recipes given below serve 3-4 guests.

Pan fried Polenta seasoned with Cumin, Ginger & black pepper served with sauteed Brussel sprouts with sun dried tomatoes & caramelized onions

For the Polenta:
1 cup  yellow corn meal
1 cups whole milk
1.5 cups water
Salt to taste
2 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorn
2 teaspoon  fresh ginger root, minced to a paste
1 tablespoon powdered cumin
Ghee for pan frying
 8 x 8 baking pan brushed liberally with butter.

Heat the milk & water along with a salt on medium heat till it comes to a boil. While the milk is heating up, heat the ghee in a small skillet and add the cumin powder & cracked peppercorns followed by the minced ginger paste. Fry till the spices start emitting their characteristic aroma, and add this mixture to the milk.

When the milk begins to boil, lower the heat and  gradually add the cornmeal, taking care to continuously whisk the mixture eliminating any lumps. Stir till the polenta thickens sufficiently, Pour the polenta into the baking dish, smoothen the surface with a spatula. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to let the polenta set. When cool, cut out 2' squares or circles .

Heat a tablespoon of ghee in a non stick skillet and place 1-2 pieces of the polenta over the melted ghee. Pan fry till golden on both sides.

Sauteed Brussels sprouts with caramelized onions & sun dried tomatoes

1 large onion cut, quartered and thinly sliced.
1 cup Brussels sprouts finely cut into a chiffonade (a mandolin works best for this)
3-4 pieces sundried tomato, cut into thin strips.
Salt & freshly ground peppercorn to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil.
juice of 1/2 a lime or lemon

In a cast iron skillet, heat the oil and add the sliced onions, cook down for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat till the onions brown, reduce in volume & caramelize. Remove the onions, increase the heat and add the Brussels sprouts and the sun dried tomatoes. Saute till the Brussels sprouts loses its rawness, adding desired amount of salt & pepper. Add the caramelized onions back and combine well. Transfer into a serving dish and keep warm.Drizzle with lime/lemon juice prior ro serving.

 paired with a Cranberry & Ginger chutney

1 cup fresh Cranberry pulp (without seeds)
1 cup minced fresh ginger root
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2-3 green jalapenos, 
1/4 teaspoon asafetida powder
Salt to taste

To make the cranberry pulp, add about 1.5 cups fresh cranberries into boiling water & blanch until they begin 'popping' & turn soft. remove from the water into a sieve & press with a spoon to strain the pulp out. Reserve one cup for the chutney.

Using the stove top, roast the jalapeno peppers till the skins get charred. Cool & rub off the blackened skin using a paper towel, Slit in two, remove the seeds & mince the flesh into small pieces.

In a skillet, Heat the canola oil till near smoking. Add the mustard seeds and allow to sputter. Add the minced ginger root, Jalapeno & cranberry pulp and saute to combine, add the asafetida powder and salt & cook down until the moisture evaporates and the oil seeps out. Transfer to a clean dry jar. Store in the refrigerator. This relish will keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

and a Sweet corn & Rice Pudding for dessert

Sweet corn & Rice Pudding

1 cup Fresh yellow sweet corn off the cob
3/4 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup muscovado sugar or jaggery (gud)
5-6 pod cardamom, seeds crushed
3 cups whole or 2% milk
10-12 strands of saffron
2 tablespoons melted ghee
2 tablespoons cashew nuts broken
2 tablespoons Raisins

Wash the arborio rice well, combine with the shucked corn and 2 cups of the milk & cook in a heavy bottom pan till the rice is well cooked and mushy. (you may alternatively pressure cook it)

Warm the extra cup of milk. Remove 1/4 cup of this and dissolve the strands of saffron. Add back into the milk & set aside.

Add the sugar/jaggery and the cardamom powder to the rice & corn mixture and combine till the sugar melts. Adding the extra saffron infused milk, Continue cooking the pudding on a low flame, till it thickens.

In a separate skillet, heat the ghee and fry the cashew nuts & raisins till golden brown. Stir into the pudding & serve warm or cold as per your preference.

Here is a sampling of all the other great dishes at the table..

Cocktails, Appetizers, Soups and Salads:
Eat Be Mary: She's Mulling It Over Wine
Cookistry: Bread With Ancient Grains
Celebrity Chefs and Their Gardens: The American Hotel Peconic Clam Chowder
Picky Eater Blog: Butternut Squash Soup With Thyme and Parmesan
Good Food Good Friends: Mushroom Soup
The Macaron Queen: Macaron Tower
Poet In The Pantry: Amaretto Apple Crisp
Farm Girl Gourmet: Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta
That's Forking Good: Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies
Out of the Box Food: Out of the Box Food Maple Pumpkin Pie
Cake Baker 35: Orange Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Lisa Michele: Pumpkin, Pecan, Cheesecake Pie
Food For My Family: Buttermilk Custard Pear Pie
Simple Bites: Black-Bottom Maple Pumpkin Pie
A Cooks Nook: Swedish Apple Pie
Yakima Herald: Pretzel Jell-O Salad
How Does She: Three of Our Favorite Desserts
Dollhouse Bake Shoppe: Thanksgiving Candy Bar Name Plates
Sweet Fry: Pumpkin Latte
Tasty Trials: Spiced Apple Panna Cotta With Caramelized Apples and Caramel Sauce
An Uneducated Palate: Puff Pastry Apple Tart
Frugal Front Porch: Mini Cheaty Cheesecakes
Even more:
Kitchen Courses: Thanksgiving for Six People Under $60
A Curious Palate: The Communal Table
Bon appetit and have a very happy Thanksgiving!


  1. I am inviting myself for the cranberry chutney and the rice and corn pudding:)

  2. wow wow so tempted with these yummy dishes...

  3. Where do you live, Niv? Expect a guest (or two) next year! :)

    And just out of curiosity, were 3 jalapenos enough to counteract the sourness of the cranberries?

  4. Shyam..the primary flavors are the ginger & cranberry, I erred on the side of caution with the jalapenos since Ginger has considerable heat as well to counteract the tartness.. & with jalapenos, its a case of playing roulette, you may end up with a mild chutney as much as a schorching, painfully hot version with equal probability!

  5. & Shyam.. you're ABSOLUTELY welcome, would love to host you guys!

  6. Phew... I thought you were going to carefully ignore my attempt to invite myself over :) But I see you still havent said where you live, Niv :D :D

  7. This idea is brilliant using polenta to sandwich the savory filling. I usually eat the polenta right after it's boiled. Would definitely try to pan fry it. oh, I can eat the chutney by itself, lol. Thank you for sharing!


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