An Indian-inspired Thanksgiving: Spiced Butter Turkey, Curry-style Gravy and Nutty Green Beans

Wish all our friends and readers a Happy Thanksgiving…

With our families living as far away as India, over the years, my husband and I have created a special family circle of dear friends to celebrate Thanksgiving with…

green beans, pancetta, pinenuts

Lightly Spiced Nutty Green Beans, topped with Bacon and Fresh Tomatoes

As in all families, a fun set of ‘Turkey Day’ traditions have developed over time. We girls enjoy an afternoon cooking together, experimenting with traditional and non-traditional Thanksgiving recipes while our kids play and ‘help’ out in the kitchen…and the dads watch football with chilled beer in hand, passing what-they-think-are-witty comments on our cooking skills.

As the delicious aromas of mouthwatering Thanksgiving treats fill the home and the laughter of our growing kids reaches our ears; each of us realize how truly grateful we are, for this bounty of food, friends…and let’s not forget, wine.

Today’s unique recipes for Spiced Butter Turkey, Curry-style Gravy and Nutty Green Beans, is our way of bringing Indian flavors to your festive table…while making light work of Thanksgiving day (if there is such a thing!)

For the Spiced Butter Turkey, we’ve used bone-in turkey breast and a rub inspired by milder Indian kebab flavors, made with butter and spices. Using pan drippings from the turkey, we’ve also created a delicious curry-style gravy, sure to have you wiping your plate clean with a piece of bread.

Indian style turkey, spicy turkey, curry gravy

An Indian-inspired Thanksgiving: Spiced Butter Turkey, Curry-style Gravy and Nutty Green Beans

Freeing up your oven, our Spiced Butter Turkey is accompanied by an easy stove-top side of green beans and pine-nuts, lightly tossed in cumin and nutmeg infused olive oil, topped with fresh tomatoes and crisp bacon.

We suggest pairing our Spiced Butter Turkey with a Californian Chardonnay or crisp Pinot Grigio. Like me, if you prefer to stay with a red for the evening, we’d recommend a peppery Australian Shiraz.

Next week, right on time for the leftovers, look for our light and easily adaptable Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey Pulao recipe…there’s no better way to change the palate after Thanksgiving Day.

Spiced Butter Turkey with Curry-style Gravy

Serves 4-6

This recipe can be doubled if using a whole turkey, weighing 10-13 lbs.

5 ½ to 6 ½ lb Bone-in Turkey Breast
1 cup white wine/1 lemon, halved/ ½ onion, thick sliced, for the turkey pan

Ingredients for the Spiced Compound Butter*

4 tablespoons or ¼ stick room temperature unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground red chili or Cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon Garam Masala
1/8 teaspoon Turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon grated/minced garlic
1 teaspoon lemon zest

*Compound Butter is regular room temperature salted or unsalted butter mixed together with different, herbs, spices and flavorings.

Ingredients for the Curry-style Gravy

Curry-style Gravy made with Pan Drippings

1 teaspoon olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Pinch of Garam Masala and ground coriander
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 cup pan drippings, from the turkey
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup chicken stock

Directions for the Spiced Butter Turkey

Spiced Compound Butter and Bone-in Turkey Breast

Bring all the ingredients for the spiced compound butter together in a small bowl. Mix them with a whisk or spoon and leave aside for 15 minutes for the flavors to blend.

Wash the turkey well and pat it dry completely, a dry turkey makes it easier to spread the butter. Loosen the skin of the turkey breast and smear the spiced butter under the skin on the meat and then over the skin. Cover and refrigerate the turkey for 2-3 hours (overnight is fine but not necessary.)

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Prepare the turkey pan by putting the turkey, breast side up on a rack in a large pan. Pour one cup white wine and one cup water in to the pan along with lemon halves and sliced onion. Cook the turkey for 1½ – 1 ¾ hours; adding a little more water to the pan if it dries out, till the thickest part of the breast registers 165F on a meat thermometer. If the skin browns faster (didn’t happen while I was testing the recipe) then cover the top loosely with aluminum foil.

Helpful information for cooking a whole turkey: I’ve learnt this from a dear ‘turkey-experienced’ friend. To cook a whole turkey, first lay it breast side down and flip the turkey about an hour into the cooking time. Since the turkey legs take longer to cook, this step helps the breast stay moist and delicious.

turkey breast, spicy turkey

Indian-inspired Spiced Butter Turkey and Delicious Pan Drippings

Once cooked, cover the turkey with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes. While the meat is resting, use the pan drippings to make this finger-licking good Curry-style Gravy to top the Spiced Butter Turkey.

Directions to make the Curry-style Gravy:

Brown the chopped onions and flour in olive oil. To this, add garam masala, ground coriander and brown sugar along with the pan drippings, tomato sauce and chicken stock. Boil for 4-5 minutes till it reaches a gravy-like pouring consistency.

Slice the Spiced Butter Turkey breast and serve with a drizzle of the warm Curry-style Gravy…

Nutty Green Beans

Serves 4 (as a side)

½ lb green beans, stems removed & cut into 1” pieces
¼ cup of pine nuts (walnuts or sliced almonds work well too)
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 slices bacon or pancetta
2 tablespoons diced fresh tomatoes

spicy green beans, haricot vert

Green beans and Pine-nuts, in a pan

In a pan, cook the bacon till crisp. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel and leave aside till required.

Blanch the green beans in boiling hot water for 2 minutes only (1 minute if using the thinner haricot vert.) Drain and rinse the beans in cold water to stop them from cooking in their own steam.

In a large pan (I prefer not to use the bacon fat), warm the olive oil with cumin seeds. Add the blanched beans to the oil and sprinkle nutmeg, ground cumin, salt and black pepper over them. Toss on the stove-top, only for a minute. Off the heat, add lemon juice to the green beans.

Place the green beans on a serving platter and top with bits of the crisp bacon and diced fresh tomatoes. Serve them warm or at room temperature.

A vegetarian version of spiced nutty green beans appears in my cookbook ‘Spice Up Your Celebration’ which offers Indian Inspired recipes for your occasions, holidays and entertaining. Click This Link for Details.

Using old Indian entertaining wisdom and today’s modern approach to food from a global perspective, my cookbook ‘Spice Up Your Celebration’ offers an easy to prepare collection of mouthwatering recipes that can be used for any occasion from intimate family and friends dinners, to hosting larger holiday celebrations.

As always, my dishes are inspired by India’s varied and flavorful smorgasbord of regional cuisines and made with everyday fresh ingredients, basic spices and simple step-wise directions. Spice Up Your Celebration - Cookbook

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  1. Gaya says

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I did this for Christmas lunch and it was a major hit. The gravy was delicious and the turkey was very succulent with the right amount of spice. I live in the UK, couldn’t get hold of the tomato sauce you mentioned, I used Italian passata that’s widely available here and the gravy turned out perfect. Thanks a lot.

    • says

      How wonderful!! Such a pleasure to hear it, thank you so much for the lovely feedback and for trying the recipes:) Italian passata sounds like the right texture to replace the tomato sauce, just a bit thicker. Have an awesome 2013!

  2. Gaya says

    Ive been searching long and hard for a spicy turkey recipe to make for Christmas lunch, thanks and I’m going to be trying this. Could you please let me know what tomato sauce you used (or how you made it) for the gravy?

    • says

      Glad you found this one! You will love the subtle spice flavors on turkey. I have two tomato sauce store brands that I use- one is the Hunts Tomato sauce- no salt added version of it, its easily available in all grocery stores. The other is a bit more difficult to find in the US- it’s an Italian one called Pomi Strained Tomatoes sold in tetra-packs or cartons. In case you’re not in the US area, look for a local tomato puree in your market. Tomato sauce is basically tomatoes that are blended, so if you don’t find it anywhere, use regular tomatoes completely blended, no water required. Hope this helps. Merry Christmas to you and yours:)

  3. Zef Neemuchwala says

    Fantastic. We loved it. Never before have I enjoyed turkey so much. Directions were so easy, turkey turned out perfect – considering we were making it for the first time.

  4. says

    The turkey looks amazing. I look forward to trying it soon. Thank you for visiting my site earlier and liking a post. I look forward to reading more of your wonderful recipes.

  5. says

    Thanks Peri – the recipes look wonderful! Your Thanksgiving Day sounds like a fun day – thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

    • says

      Thanks Bernice, I love adding an Indian touch to our special thanksgiving dishes! It is wonderful day, spent in the company of those we cherish:) hope you have an awesome and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • says

      Thanks, thrilled to hear the beans might be at your thanksgiving table…they give a nice crunchy lightly spiced touch along to the meal…and then there’s pine-nuts and bacon! (Although I prefer pancetta:)

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours…

  6. says

    Happy coming Thanksgiving to you and all Peri!!: ) This is a very delicious way to spice up Thanksgiving – loved your nutty beans too 😉 how I wished to be there to celebrate with you all, best part is to be together with friends and family, enjoy! xx Ozlem

    • says

      We will miss you terribly, dear Ozlem, you will be right there with us in spirit:) All these flavors were so warm and soothing with crunchy beans, nuts and delicious turkey…we really enjoyed making this recipe collection:) xxPeri.

  7. says

    Thanks Peri! Happy Thanksgiving to you as well :) I once made a really yummy Ghee with spices, it was to die for. Our Ayurveda teacher gave us a recipe and my whole place smelled incredible so I can just image all the wonderful scents while you were cooking :)

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