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Thanksgiving !!!

Thankful 🧡 Grateful 🧡 Blessed 🧡

Hello Foodies,

Hope you are back on track with a regular fitness regime along with healthful meals everyday. And I am sure you are now ready to embrace the upcoming weekend with great avidity and fervor. And why not, after all it’s Thanksgiving!

And now, just for sakes, let’s talk about American Thanksgiving. It can be traced back to 1620, when about 100 European travelers set sail from England looking for religious freedom. These ‘pilgrims’ began to settle in Massachusetts. Over half of their population perished over the first winter months due to inadequate housing and nourishment. The Native American tribe agreed to help and teach the pilgrims how to survive. They taught them how to plant corn, where to hunt and fish, and how to survive through the harsh winters. In November 1621, the pilgrims first fall harvest proved successful and they invited their Native American allies to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The tribe came with their food to share and together, they had so much bounty to feast for over three days. So historically, this feast is supposedly the first Thanksgiving and maybe the first historic potluck!

And today, modern American thanksgiving can be summed down to the 3F’s - Food, Family and Football. They come together as a family to feast over a big stuffed turkey watching the game of American football. Unfortunately, this year, less family and friends may be invited than usual; football season looks different than usual and the food spread may be scaled down in quantity. But what will definitely remain a constant is the love and affection for preparing the feast.

For most of us, the first generation Desi Americans, Thanksgiving may be just another break from our usual work routine. But with our kids growing here in the multi-ethnic societal mix, we are happily embracing the American holidays, personalizing them and assimilating them in our culture in our special desi ways....if I may say so! With our Indian background, we are uniquely molding and shaping this annual celebration.

Now if we think of a parallel Indian festival, I would say, India being an agricultural country, celebrates its harvest festivals at different times throughout the year. It’s a celebration of the food that grows on our soils. So basically, we Indians are thankful and grateful to the bountiful Mother Earth all throughout the year. We show gratitude to the natural elements; to our families and community in which we grow and prosper. All this we do through our numerous festivals such as Onam and Pongal celebrated in Southern India, Lohri and Baisakhi in the north, Makar Sankranti and Uttarayana in western part and Bihu in the East. In all these festivals and celebrations, apart from the joy and cheer, the main focus is to sustain the spirit of thanks and to express gratitude for providence of life necessities, family and friends.

And here we are, in America, whole-heartedly embracing this festival because it is inherently about what we Indians strongly believe in – togetherness, family and gratitude. For most of us, Thanksgiving isn’t just about the food, turkey and accompaniments, but it’s more about having an opportunity to be with dear family and friends (who become our family on foreign soil) to thank them for being in our lives.

We blend the two cultures deliciously with the flavors of both local American ingredients and the heritage masalas from India. It is our way of appreciating American culture without letting go of our incredible Indian roots.

And now, to talk about the significant spread of Thanksgiving Feast, we plan the menu which is in perfect modulation to suit our desi taste buds. The stuffed turkey roast is replaced by tandoori turkey tikka. The mashed potatoes are switched with jeera aaloo. Cranberry sauce is good and all but sorry, it doesn’t match up with our spicy and tangy mint coriander chutney! Matar paneer with naans, biryani with bowls of creamy raita substitute the dinner rolls, cheese and dip.

And one of the families I know always prepares mix daal khichdi

on the side along with papad and pickles. When asked why this simple dish on a big feast day, they reason it by saying that we Indians are like khichdi in America - a country which is a striking mix and a melting pot of different descents and cultures.

Among the young generation Americans, the latest buzz these days is to go out of the way to help the needy and less fortunate on Thanksgiving. They gladly volunteer in soup kitchens, donate food, clothes and their valuable time at homeless shelters.

So dear friends, when you get together for a scrumptious meal this weekend, be thankful for every little thing that supports our existence on this earth. Remember to say a little heartfelt prayer this year especially for being fortunate to be still alive and kicking amidst this pandemic. Let this Thanksgiving be about being grateful and thankful for the love, care and prayers we are showered upon by our loved ones and by the Supreme one above!

Have a fervent time together with your near and dear ones and remember to count your blessings and name them one by one!

Till next time, a toast to good health !

Eat, drink and be thankful ❣️


Vandana Oke


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