The No Turkey Indian Thanksgiving

No TurkeyThanksgiving - a vegetarian feast

Thanksgiving without the Gobble-Gobble

A Pardon for the Turkey at Thanksgiving



A no turkey Thanksgiving should make both vegetarians and the turkeys very happy! Actually vegetarians don’t have such a hard time at Thanksgiving even if turkey is the main course because there is such an abundance of vegetables and fruits served on this holiday.

Yet for those hankering for some Indian spice, we asked nutritionist Madhu Gadia for an Indian alternative to a big turkey dinner for Thanksgiving,  and she suggested an Indian menu which certainly brings in the spirit and flavor of a traditional Thanksgiving to the table.

While she does not have specific Thanksgiving recipes in her book, she suggests vegetarians and vegans can use the traditional holiday ingredients with an Indian twist: Soy Cutlets (Soy ki Tikki) can be served in place of turkey,  supplemented by Sweet and Sour Winter Squash (Kaddu), Coconut Green Beans (Sem-Nariyal), and Curried Potatoes (Sukhe Aloo)

As each successive wave of immigrants comes to America, they introduce their own well-loved foods to the Thanksgiving table and in the process create new traditions, new memories.

You could call it an Indian Vegan Thanksgiving. Happy Turkey Day!

Thanksgiving continues to evolve - now come Indian immigrants with their own flavors

Thanksgiving continues to evolve – now Indians bring their own tastes

Turkey-less Tikkis



Prep Time: 10 Minutes            Cook Time: 20 Minutes


Makes 6 servings. Serving Size – 2 patties.

Vegetable patties are great for snack or appetizer. Texturized vegetable protein blends well with the vegetables without changing the taste of the traditional cutlets. I like to make sandwiches with these leftover cultlets.

1/2 cup texturized vegetable protein (TVP or soy granules)

1 cup water

3/4 cup grated carrots

1/2 cup scallions, chopped

1 medium (4 ounces) potato, boiled

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

1 to 2 teaspoon green chili, finely chopped

1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 cup bread crumbs

canola oil for frying

  1. In a small skilled boil 1 cup water. Add TVP, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, drain in a strainer. Let cool. Place cooled TVP in the center of kitchen towel and squeeze out excess water. Place in a medium bowl.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small fry pan over medium high heat. Add the scallions and fry for one minute. Add the grated carrots, ginger and green chilies. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Open lid and cool completely.
  3. Peel and mash the boiled potato.  Set aside.
  4. Add the carrot mixture, and mashed potato to the TVP. Add salt, black pepper, garam masala, cilantro and cornstarch. Mix well with hands. The mixture should come together as soft dough. Divide in to 12 portions.
  5. Place breadcrumbs in a plate. Make 12 patties, 2-inch round or oval and 1-inch thick. Roll in breadcrumbs. Set aside.
  1. Heat oil, about 3-inches deep, in a karhai/wok or skillet on high heat. Oil is ready when a little bit of dough dropped in the oil rises to the top right away (about 400ºF).
  1. Add 4 to 6 patties at a time. Fry for about 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown on one side, turn it over, fry the other side. Drain on paper towels.
  2. Serve hot with your favorite chutney or ketchup.

Nutrition Information per serving: Calories: 141; Total Fat: 6 (Saturated Fat: 0.5); Carbohydrate: 18; Protein 5; Fiber: 3; Sodium: 278

(Recipe from The Indian Vegan Kitchen (Perigee Books/Penguin Group) by Madhu Gadia, MS, RD)

Immigrants bring changing traditions to the Thanksgiving meal

Immigrants bring changing traditions to the Thanksgiving meal

Spicy Pumpkin




“In my house this dish was made during festivals and served with puri or kachori (fried breads). Kaddu cooked in this style is my personal favorite vegetable. In India we always used the pumpkin to make this recipe, but a good cooking pumpkin is not always available here. So I find butternut squash is an excellent substitution. The fenugreek seeds give this recipe a unique flavor.” – Madhu Gadia


1 small butternut squash (2 pounds)[1]

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

  1. Peel and cut butternut squash in half. Scoop out and discard the inside seeds and threads. Cut into about 1-inch pieces. Rinse, drain and set aside.
  2. In a frying pan heat oil on medium high heat. Add cumin and fenugreek seeds and cook for a few seconds until seeds are golden brown.
  3. Add the chopped squash, turmeric, salt, coriander powder, cayenne pepper and water. Stir to mix. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15–18 minutes until the squash is soft to the touch. Stir occasionally.
  4. Add lemon juice and sugar. Mash the squash with a potato masher or large spoon. Simmer for 5–7 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish.

Makes  4 servings (2 cups), Serving size: 1/2 cup

Nutrition Per Serving: Calories: 80, Carbohydrate:17 g, Protein: 1 g, Fat: 2 g (Sat Fat: 0), Chol: 0, Dietary fiber: 1.8 g, Sodium: 403 mg

(Recipe from New Indian Home Cooking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) by Madhu Gadia MS, RD)

Immigrants tweak the Thanksgiving meal to include their own tradition

Immigrants tweak the Thanksgiving meal to include their own tradition

Thanksgiving Side – Beans with Mustard Seeds


Prep Time: 10 Minutes            Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Makes 6 servings.  Serving size: 1/2 cup

Black mustard seeds and coconut add a nutty taste to these finely chopped green beans. Enjoy them as a side dish or salad. For best result use fresh green beans, although frozen can be used.

3 cups (1 pound) fresh green beans

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

2 to 3 dried red chilies

6 to 8 curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup frozen or fresh coconut, finely grated

  1. Cut about 1/4 inch off of both ends of the green beans. Chop green beans into about 1/4 inch pieces. You can line several green beans together and chop them at the same time.
  2. Heat oil in a nonstick fry pan on medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cover with lid, and cook for a few seconds until the mustard seeds stop popping. Add red chilies and curry leaves, cook for a few seconds. Cover loosely with lid to contain the popping seeds.
  3. Add the green beans, salt and water. Stir to mix. Cover with lid, reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until the green beans are cooked.
  4. Transfer to a serving container and add the grated coconut. Toss lightly.

Nutrition Information per serving: Calories: 50; Total Fat: 4 (Saturated Fat: 1); Carbohydrate: 4; Protein 1; Fiber: 2; Sodium: 198

(Recipe from The Indian Vegan Kitchen (Perigee Books/Penguin Group) by Madhu Gadia, MS, RD)

[1] Most squash are very hard to cut. If you have a microwave, heat the whole squash on high for 1–2 minutes until just warm—an amazingly easy way to peel and cut it.

Related Article: Here comes the Bride -er-Turkey
Related Article: Indian Cuisine Adds Spice to Thanksgiving



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