Jump to here and now. Our first Thanksgiving in Bangalore! Right from the get go when we first started making friends and as the holidays grew nearer whenever the talk became of Thanksgiving I would immediately pipe up and boldly stake out that holiday as "mine" and claimed "I do a great Thanksgiving and it's going to be at my house and all are invited! Traditional turkey menu and no worries, no worries, it will be fantastic!" Yes, yes, we all know I have the tendency to jump right into things but I had already proven my Thanksgiving prowess in Malaysia where ingredients were expensive, (frozen turkeys started at about $45) and I ended up making everything by scratch so what could be so hard about doing the same in India, right?
Oh so very wrong....lol. In a country where you most definitely won't see a frozen Butterball or Jennie-O turkeys at your neighborhood grocery stores, where celery, a must have ingredient for my chicken stuffing is so hard to source, where any kind of pumpkin in a can is IMPOSSIBLE to find......how in the H E double hockey sticks was I going to accomplish this amazing feast that I promised? No problemo I would figure it out. And I can look back at Thursday and laugh now....but here is how my road to Thanksgiving began.
About three months ago I asked the owner of where I buy my meats if he was going to have frozen turkeys. "Yes, we will have the best frozen turkeys!". Yay! Love the meats there so knew the turkey would be great. As for everything else, I figured I would just figure out as we got closer to the day. So put in my order for two turkeys and thought that was the hardest part and everything else well, would just be easy peasy mac and cheezy!
Happily and luckily for me, my in laws were visiting and my mother in law bought me boxes and boxes of cornbread mix for my stuffing. In Malaysia I could not find mix but was able to find cornmeal, buttermilk, etc so was able to make fantastic homemade cornbread. Here if they had cornmeal, I would never have known because I couldn't read the labels, and the people working at the stores didn't understand English, I don't speak Hindi....so if they had it, I just didn't know. Problem to communicate is common here. All week long I was out sourcing ingredients for the Turkey day feast, I had picked up the frozen turkeys on Monday, I had fresh green beans, potatoes, we found yams!!!!! Everything was coming together the only thing I could not find was pumpkin and yes I did consider using fresh pumpkin but the pumpkins around were just not pie material. No worries, I found a restaurant that made yummy pumpkin pies so though it would be "store bought", it was still pumpkin pie. I woke up on Thursday with my only concern being that I hoped the turkeys were fully thawed. I sent John and his parents, Marta and Jim out to buy last minutes table linens, candles, etc. and I thought ha! I had made my chicken stuffing the night before, I had planned to do the pies, yams, green bean casseroles,etc all before the turkey went into the oven. After my family took off, I sat around for about thirty minutes relaxing, thinking what a piece of cake, things were hard to source during the week, but the hard part was over and all we needed to do now was cook.
Ha! Gayathri and I took the plastic covering off the first turkey and to my horror and panic what did we find? A frozen turkey? No. It was perfectly thawed and in good condition. Too good condition, it still had feathers! Well not a whole lot of feathers, but there were some and alot of what looked like razor stubble sticking out of it....like the turkey forgot to get a good plucking and shave before it was frozen. Ok, city girl that I am....I was mortified. The only turkeys I have had to deal with were Butterballs and Jennie-O's. Which were beautiful and clean and hairless.....these turkeys had stubble and some feathers all over...and these were 12 lb turkeys. What did I do? Flew into a rage and panic of course. Called the guy who charged me over 1000 rupees per kilo for "imported frozen turkeys" and asked him how in the world he could've have sold me turkeys with feathers in them at that price? And from exactly where were they imported? Demanded my money back upon the return of the turkeys (which he agreed to) and then started calling around and trying to figure out where I could get "clean turkeys" last minute, on Thanksgiving Thursday. It was about 10 a.m. at this time, so I had a few hours to figure this out. But panic, plead and grovel I did to restaurants all over town to be sold turkeys that were hairless, thawed and within an area that I could reach, get back, marinate and roast.
Hubby's errands went from table linen to helping out in the search in the area he was at...we were in full "problem solver" mode and we were committed to finding clean turkeys.
I must regress and go back to when we first opened the turkeys and Gayathri looking at me and saying "Madam, go upstairs, bring me your tweezers, Lakshimi and I will handle, please don't worry, it'll be ok".
I did not listen. I spent an hour on the phone, calling around and finally finding a restaurant who would have two beautifully cleaned turkeys for me......at 2000 rs per kg (that's approx $200 USD?). In my panic I agreed. Angry that I was getting so ripped off but relieved that I had found what I wanted. I needed to clear my head and jumped in the shower. While in the shower I realized how ridiculous I was being. I already had two perfectly thawed turkeys, nice sized but they needed to be plucked. Plain and simple. Pluck it. I cancelled the ridiculous order of the two new turkeys, went down with two pairs of tweezers and Gayathri and I got to plucking. And pluck we did!
Two hours later...turkeys were completely plucked and beautifully cleaned. I made the lemongrass rub, Gaytari coated them and they were ready to go! Literally. One of them "left" shortly after as our good friend Elizabeth came at the designated time to pick up one of the turkeys to roast at her home. We were cool as cucumbers. Did not want my panic mode to rub off on anyone else.
The minute she left we were in full crazy cooking mode. Yams were boiled, ready to be caramelized, green beans needing cleaning and boiling, potatoes to mash, pies to be made!!!!
Yikes I don't know how we did it.
Bruce got home from school (doesn't it sound weird, going to school on Thanksgiving?), we kept him busy till he could help with the fun stuff (candle placement, etc), John and family returned and he did an amazing job picking out fabric and having beautiful, custom made table linens made for our tables, everything was, indeedy, coming together.
Final result, a beautiful Thanksgiving feast with family, and all new friends we have made here in Bangalore. Katie bought fresh baked rolls, Elizabeth had perfectly roasted one of the turkeys, Jennifer brought amazing cosmos, Erika brought pies, Mai brought the most beautiful roses....Gaelan and Bert brought veggies, Matt (our Aussie friend) brought his hilarious sense of humor, everything was just perfect. Both turkeys turned out well, we had traditional sides, the best mashed potatoes ever made by Gayathri, and best of all........ no one coughed up a turkey feather.
Next year, I'll do things a little different. No more expensive "imported" turkeys. I'll just get local ones (everyone told me after that I had been ripped off as most likely those turkeys were local, lol) and I will be prepared to pluck.
All in all, it was a wonderful, beautiful, FUN Thanksgiving, I hope yours was too:)