What’s With The Controversy? A Desi Turkey Recipe With A Story

Image from tabasco.com

Okay so it’s Thankgiving in Canada this long weekend. And, well over a decade ago I started a bit of controversy when I began to make my traditional desi turkey on these weekends.

Once upon a time before Mina Halal came along, we only had halal turkeys available this time of the year…and they would finish really soon and were only available by special order so you had to grab one fast if you really wanted to try halal turkey that year. We liked our bird fresh and not frozen, so I would marinate it for a few days as soon as we would get it and we would just so happen to roast it on thanksgiving weekend (because, well, you cannot let it sit in the fridge too long before it spoils..).

The controversy started when the “haram police” came along asking us why we’re making turkeys and couldn’t it have been another time…? Well, like I said, we like our turkeys fresh. We actually went to a farm over an hour away every year, picked out our turkey and had it slaughtered by hand. There was no reason to go and freeze it when we could just have it in a few days, fresh. So, despite the flapping of wings of some upset folks, my husband and I would host a grand turkey dinner – gravy, stuffing, sides galore, homemade pies and all the good stuffsss

It’s really the intention. We simply intended to feed people (we’d get 60+ people coming over at once) and get together for a wonderful time on a cold autumn evening. Well, alhamdulillah, those same individuals who protested upon my turkey dinners, now enjoy them…lol. I guess times change, people change I had the same reaction when I began bringing home pumpkins for homemade pumpkin pies in autumn, too…lol. (What’s up with this anti-western thing…??)

Anyhow, I’ve been getting a lot of requests for my desi turkey recipe so here it is. The reason it’s “desi” is because I loaded it with masalas and robust flavours It was inspired by my dear Guyanese friends who first taught me to make turkeys (and not be intimated by it’s size), plus a punch with our traditional paki spices.


NOTE: This recipe is made for every 2 lbs of meat. So, if your turkey is 14 lbs, you’ll need to multiply this recipe 7 times to get the right proportions. An oven bag is a genius product found in most local grocery stores (No Frills, Loblaws..). It helps cut the roasting time by more than half. I never roast without it and always keep spare packages in my cupboard for thick cut meats…

1 1/2 tsp garlic powder, granulated
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp black pepper, ground
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder (optional)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp chili garlic sauce

1 oven bag
1 roasting pan or large foil pan

1. Clean your turkey and remove any excess fat. Loosen the skin from the meat using a wooden spoon and carefully make deep cuts in the breast, thighs and legs. (This will allow the spices to get into the meat really well).
2. Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl except for water. Slowly add water until all spices become a uniformed, thick paste.
3. Using your hands, apply the paste under the skin and into the slits and cuts. Rub the paste on the skin as well. Rub it in well.
4. Cover and place into the refrigerator overnight.
5. When you are ready to cook the turkey, remove it from the refrigerator and let sit.
6. Preheat oven to 350 F.
7. Prepare your pan and place an oven bag in the center. Carefully open the bag and slide the turkey into the oven bag. Follow manufacturer’s directions and seal closed with the provided tie. You will have to cut a few tiny slits on the top of the oven bag for steam to escape.
8. Place in the oven and roast according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Note: it usually takes a 14 pounder to roast to perfection in about 1.5 to 2 hrs, HONEST!).
9. Place the roasted turkey in a nice pan, cover and place on the side.
10. Remove the excess turkey juice from the roasting pan, discard the fat drippings and place in a sauce pan. Let simmer on stove on medium.
10. In a small bowl, add some cornstarch with cold water. Mix until uniform.
11. While stirring, add the cornstarch paste into the sauce pan. Cook until the gravy becomes thick and dark. Serve with your turkey!

Have a great weekend!

(photo from tabasco.com)


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