Our tables fill with many dishes, sometimes different depending on where in the U.S. you may be, or what your family traditions are, but there are always staple foods that must be on every Thanksgiving table. Turkey being the most important, then dressing (stuffing for you non-southerners), cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, and of course… pumpkin pie! Excess food pouring over the sides of dishes while salivating mouths are waiting to eat because they haven’t eaten all day in preparation for the onslaught of food about to be consumed.
Well even though I am living in India right now, the other American interns living in Jodhpur and I decided that the best remedy for any homesickness or food cravings would be to make a Thanksgiving meal here in India! This was an endeavor that was great in thought, but not carefully thought through in order to be executed smoothly. With a grocery list consisting of nearly 30 items and not a single Westernized grocery store, the shopping started at 2 pm on Saturday for our meal that was planned for Sunday at 2 pm. Everyone split the list and started shopping around in two groups. After going to vegetable markets, and small stores, the hunting really began. Where the hell are we going to find marshmallows, evaporated milk, and cranberry sauce? After long ado, all was found at various places after asking person after person at stores, and even being given a phone to talk to different storeowners. I am really glad I missed out in having to get the chicken, because apparently they got to pick their chicken live, and then watch it being chopped up in front of their eyes. NO THANK YOU!
We finally got all of our cooking supplies and started prepping on Saturday night at our director’s house. After adjourning, we decided to meet at 9:30 the next morning to get the rest going in order to not delay the lunch plans. Well I got there at 9:30, but being in India, I waited on the others for a while, then a little longer to get things going. Finally, after all the prepping had been done, cooking had to ensue. This was the difficult part considering Indians do not have ovens, and they generally only have a double gas stove in their kitchen. We had to use a toaster oven to cook the sweet potato casserole, banana bread, and pumpkin pie, but surprisingly they turned out really tasty. With the help of our director, we had an extra gas stove brought in to cook and after we cooked most of our American food, the two Indian women from our organization made some Indian dishes as well.
It was a hit! Separating the non-veg and veg items on two different tables, we pondered upon the smorgasbord of random foods in front of our eyes and teasing our taste buds. The tables consisted of mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole (complete with marshmallows and pineapple), green beans, cranberry sauce, salad, matar paneer (peas and paneer), Indian layered rice dish, paneer gulab jamon, and steaming piles of fresh chapatti. On the non-veg table, our tandori-ish chicken, pumpkin pie (made from fresh pumpkin!), and peanut butter banana bread covered in Nutella. These were non-veg items because vegetarians in India do not eat eggs and there were eggs in the baked goods. Everyone, host families and all, thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the food. I am pretty sure the Indians preferred the Indian food though, probably because our American food just wasn’t flavorful enough for their palettes.