edd5b5c63a3fde5b2d19f58e3d7e1873-1Raised in a tolerant Hindu family, I am always looking for an excuse to partici-pate in all holidays. Like many immigrant experiences, however, the Thanksgiving holiday evokes mixed feelings in me. I miss the many holidays we celebrate in India, so on the positive side, I appreciate that this is a holiday when family and friends gather to share nature’s bounty. It is a secular holiday, so there is no deity to focus on and no obligation to buy gifts.

Most people of the world mark the harvest season with some kind of ritual to thank a creature, or nature, or their loved ones. On a sad note, the Native Americans with whom the pilgrims marked this holiday in America may have little left to celebrate. And the turkey; well, they have even less to celebrate. So here are some Thanksgiving recipes to honor endangered peoples and to save and respect animals.

SOMASA PIE

This samosa pie is a healthier and more substantial entrée for a Thanksgiving dinner than traditional deep fried samosa fritters. It goes well with the cranberry chutney (recipe follows).
For the crust:

1¾ cups unbleached white flour
6 tablespoons chilled butter, margarine, oil spread, or oil
3-4 tablespoons chilled water
½ teaspoon salt
For the filling:
4 cups peeled potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 cup grated carrots
½ cup fresh or frozen and thawed shelled peas
2 tablespoons any vegetable oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped green or yellow onion
¼ teaspoon each cumin, turmeric, and coriander powder
1 tablespoon garam masala or
¼ teaspoon each ground cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom
½ cup water
juice of one lemon
a few sprigs of cilantro

You can use your favorite pie crust recipe or follow this method. Combine the ingredients for the crust briefly in the food processor or by hand. Do not overwork the dough. Gather the dough into a ball and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions until limp. Add all the vegetables and spices. Sauté for several minutes until ingredients are well blended. Add the water and cook covered over moderate heat until the potatoes are soft but not mashed. If too much liquid is left at this point, stir fry the mixture to dry it. Transfer to a platter to cool and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the chilled dough into two thin crusts. Oil a pie plate and line it with one crust. Fill the shell with the vegetables, spreading them evenly. Sprinkle lemon juice and cilantro sprigs on top. If the mixture looks too dry, dot the surface with water. Cover with top crust. Pinch the edges to seal. Prick the top crust with a fork. Brush with oil and bake for an hour or longer until the pie is golden. Serve with cranberry chutney.

CRANBERRY CHUTNEY

As far as I know, this chutney is my own creation, since I had never cooked with cranberries in India. My friends always expect me to bring this chutney for their Thanksgiving dinner.

3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup water
2 cups honey, sugar, fructose, or maple syrup
l tablespoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon each ground cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and cayenne

Chop the cranberries coarsely in a food processor, a blender, or with a knife. Cook them with the water until the berries are soft. Add the sweetener (if you’re using honey, mix it in after you take the chutney off the heat) and spices and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the chutney has a jam-like consistency. It will solidify as it cools. Refrigerated, this chutney keeps for months. It makes a great holiday gift!

VEGAN PUMPKIN PIE

My vegetarian friends have evolved their diet to a more animal-friendly vegan (dairy-free vegetarian) style for health or ecological reasons. The following recipe is suitable for vegans as well as for Hindu lacto-vegetarians who do not consume eggs.

For a single pie crust, use one half of the ingredients for the samosa pie crust and follow the above directions for pie dough and crust.
For the filling:

1 small pie pumpkin
1 cup creamy soy milk
½ cup soft tofu
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a few pinches of cloves
Prepare a single pie crust. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare the pumpkin filling by either baking the pumpkin or steaming. To bake, cut the pumpkin in half, take out seeds and fibers and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until soft. To steam, place the pumpkin halves in a vegetable steam basket with shell sides facing down. Cook for 15 minutes or until very soft.

Peel the cooked pumpkin and cut into chunks. Puree using a food processor, blender, or fork. Mix in all of the other ingredients and pour the filling into the pie crust. Bake for 45 minutes or until the filling stops jiggling. Cool to room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff, author of Flavors of India: Vegetarian Indian Cuisine lives in San Francisco where she is a manager of a health food store, Other Avenues. Her daughter Serena Sacharoff is an illustrator and art student.

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