Without upsetting anyone, wouldn't you like to have spiced up Thanksgiving dinner with a few new touches here and there.
Maybe someone at the table is a vegetarian or you invited Indian friends.
Browsing through the many recipes (1000 of them) gathered in the India Cookbook (Phaidon, November 2010), I noticed the Lauki ki Seekh ('Skewered Pumpkin) dish on page 93 and thought this could be a welcome change from pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie.
Here's the Lauki ki Seekh Skewered Pumpkin recipe:
Preparation time 30-40 minutes, plus cooling time
Cooking time 8-10 minutes
300g / 11oz (2 2/3 cups) peeled and grated pumpkin
300g / 11oz Paneer (see recipe below), grated
3 tablespoons chopped onion
1 x 1 cm / ½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons chopped carrot
1 tablespoon chopped green chili
20g / ¾ oz (½ cup) chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves1
pinch of ground allspice2
30g / 1 ¼ oz green chili paste
1-2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs, for binding
ground white pepper
Parboil the grated pumpkin with a pinch of salt in a pan of boiling water for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Drain, then put the pumpkin into a bowl of cold water to cool.
Prepare a tandoor3 or charcoal grill for a moderate heat, or alternatively preheat the grill (broiler) to medium. When cold, put the pumpkin into a clean towel and squeeze to remove any excess water. Transfer to a clean bowl, and add the paneer, onion, ginger, carrot, chili, and coriander and mix well. Season with salt and white pepper, then add the ground spices, green chili paste and breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly until the mixture binds together. Divide the mixture into 16 equal portions.
Using damp hands, mould some of the mixture into a sausage shape along the length of metal skewers. Roast in a moderately hot tandoor, over a charcoal grill or under the hot grill for 8-10 minutes.
1 coriander (cilantro) is an annual herb, the entirety of which is used in Indian cooking: the fresh leaves as a garnish or in green chutney; the whole seeds in temperings, pickling spices and some non-vegetarian dishes; the powdered seeds, or ground coriander, is among the most commonly used spices in everyday cooking.
2 allspice is a spice made from the dried berries of a small tree. The name is derived from the berry’s fragrance, thought to resemble a blend of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
3 Tandoor: The clay tandoor oven used in the Indus valley dates as long ago as 3,000 BC. Traditionally they were heated with burning charcoal, but modern tandoor ovens are often heated with electricity. A skilled tandoor cook can manipulate the heat of the oven to bake, roast or grill a variety of foods.
(Recipe and 'Assorted Spices' illustration From India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant (November 2010) $49.95, courtesy of Phaidon)