Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Present

When we finally made the decision this year to stay home, Rob had already arranged for a week off from work.  He decided to go ahead with the time off, even with more layoffs looming, so we could get some things done on the house and maybe relax a bit.  We went back and forth on what to do for Thanksgiving and we went with Rob's idea of an Indian food feast.  As I've mentioned before, we all enjoy Indian culture and food so it seemed like a great plan.  Rob and I have issues with Thanksgiving and what it is supposed to celebrate.  Of course, a day of gratitude I can get behind, but the horrible history of genocide and deceit should make the Thanksgiving myth hard for any of us to swallow.  We have friends who fast on Thanksgiving and I understand their reasons.  We've decided to take back Thanksgiving and make it a time of deep thought, reflection, and a time to count our blessings.  We both loved the irony of feasting on cuisine from the the area in the world which was the destination for Columbus, which had an impact beyond imagination on the people of the time.
One of the things Rob is particularly grateful for this year is spices.  So incredibly appropriate for our celebration.  We do love our spices and we are so very abundantly endowed.
We have an entire little table to hold our most often used spices and a cabinet for our more exotic spices or surplus of other spices, since we usually buy organic in bulk and refill old spice jars.
We think a lot about what we eat and where it comes from and spices are sometimes taken for granted these days, but spices have a long and important history which has touched more than just food.
I know, I know, get to the food.  Rob started cooking Wednesday night because he just couldn't wait.  There was a Diwali celebration at his office, a couple weeks ago, and Rob cooked up over ten pounds of chole/channa masala (an Indian chickpea curry) for the event and one of his friends loaned him traditional dress (see picture above).  The recipe he used was from Manjula's Kitchen website.  It was quite good and disappeared quickly so he was tempted to use the same recipe.  I talked him into using The Asian Vegan Kitchen because we were so taken with the aloo gobi.  At first, Rob was worried the channa masala was going to disappoint, but it ended up being one of his favorites from our Thanksgiving spread.  I think making it the night before was genius because Indian is so much better the next day, after the spices have a chance to meld.
Our buffet with aloo gobi (Cauliflower and Potato with Spices from The Asian Vegan Kitchen), baingan bburta (Spicy Roasted Eggplant Curry from The Asian Vegan Kitchen), and channa masala (Chickpea Curry from The Asian Vegan Kitchen).  You can also see the pumpkin in the background which our neighbor, Margie, gave us before Halloween and Dema cut and cleaned so I would make the pumpkin pie I had promised him since the pumpkins arrived.  Yes, we had pumpkin pie for dessert.  I was going to make sheera (Semolina Pudding which is Indian, but we went with the pumpkin pie for Dema instead).
The okra drying for the bhindi masala (Rob used the recipe from Manjula's Kitchen).  We had okra all over the kitchen.  Bhindi is one of my favorite ways to eat okra.
Gita and her family came over for Thanksgiving.  We've been talking about having an Indian potluck for a while and this was a great excuse to do it.  Gita is an expert with Indian and she brought Mutter Paneer, which was a real treat because we never eat paneer in restaurants since it is a cubed cheese.  Gita used frozen tofu thawed then fried for the paneer, with great success.  It was one of Dema's favorite dishes of the day.  Gita brought raita with soy yogurt, a cooling condiment we rarely eat unless we are at Gita's.  Gita also brought basmati rice, her rice cooker, and spices to make lovely rice and she made the dough to fry poori.  For some reason, the poori did not really puff up much, but deep fried bread is a hit either way.  Rob made aloo paratha from Manjula's Kitchen for our bread contribution and biryani (from The Asian Vegan Kitchen) for our rice contribution.  The biryani soaked cooked for a little too long so it was a tad sticky, but we'll definitely make it again when timing is not an issue.  Not pictured is Gita's perfect gin and tonics and the pumpkin pie (see that below with the picture of leftovers).  We chatted with Gita and her family almost into the next day.  When we finally went to bed, we were warm and full.
Obviously, we made enough food to feed several families so we had lots yummy leftovers.  Indian is always better leftover, in my opinion, so we were super happy to indulge in homemade Indian food for a couple days after.  Here is breakfast Friday with mango juice (don't know why I didn't remember we had this on Thanksgiving).   Our Thanksgiving this year was aromatic, delicious, nontraditional, and oh so enjoyable.

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