As any school child will tell you, the Pilgrims shared the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Mass., with friendly local Indians -- so called because when the disoriented Columbus beached in the new world he mistakenly thought he was in the East Indies and consequently referred to the natives as Indians.

By the time the geographic confusion had been cleared up, the ethnic misnomer was indelible, so "Indians" they remained. And the original Indians -- from India -- retained the name for themselves, too.

Of course, these "real" Indians weren't there for that first feast celebrating the bounty of harvest, but their ancient and highly developed culinary traditions can be beautifully integrated with the elements of an American Thanksgiving feast. The unusual menu that follows combines the rich spices and exotic aromas of the Far East with many of our Thanksgiving givens -- turkey and gravy, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and cranberries.

Starting with a tart-and-tangy first course of sea scallops and avocado marinated in fresh lime juice and coriander, and working through aromatic and colorful dishes of curried sweet potatoes and pumpkin, mashed potatoes spiked with cumin, savory spiced spinach and baby carrots fragrant with cardamom and ginger, we arrive at the main event, a spectacular roasted Tandoori Turkey, basted in a rosy blend of yogurt and spices and served with a golden fruit-and-almond-studded pilau. A fresh salat (of chopped vegetables or beans with seasonings), crisp and chewy Indian bread, a pair of chutneys and a deliciously spiced "Love Cake" round out the menu.

For those who frequent Washington's many Indian restaurants, chicken tandoori is a familiar favorite. It is a plump young chicken, stripped of its skin, marinated in a reddish, spice-stained yogurt mixture and roasted in a very hot clay oven called a tandoor. Basted frequently during its relatively brief cooking time, the chicken tandoori emerges red-brown and fragrant, to be served on a bed of fresh salat with steamy hot rounds of flat bread called naan to sop up the juices.

The concept translates quite nicely to a turkey and a covered, kettle-type barbeque grill or conventional oven. Although this menu is a long one, as Thanksgiving menus tend to be, it is not particularly difficult, and a good part of the work can be done ahead of time.

On Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, the yogurt and spice marinade should be made and rubbed into the bird, which is left to marinate in the refrigerator until Thanksgiving morning.

On Wednesday, vegetables can be washed and trimmed, giblet stock made for the rice and gravy, chutneys made and the cake baked.

On Thanksgiving, once the bird is in the barbeque, the cook(s) can turn their attention to preparing the scallop seviche, the vegetable dishes, the pilau, the salat and the naan.

Most unfamiliar ingredients in these recipes can be found in Indian or Middle Eastern markets or in specialty and health food stores. Ghee, which appears in many of the dishes, is clarified butter and can be bought in jars in some Indian shops. It also can be made by gently heating unsalted butter over a low flame until it separates. The oil that rises to the top is ghee. Pour it off carefully. (Save the nearly fat-free buttery-tasting solids at the bottom to flavor future pasta and vegetable dishes.) Each recipe provides 12 adult portions.

Though this food is spicy and exotic, the flavors are not so strong as to overwhelm a light flavorful wine, such as an Alsatian riesling or a light red bardolino. If you choose to serve a wine, pour it after the scallop seviche has been eaten. Wine and seviche are always antipathetic. Chilled oriental beer and sparkling water are also appropriate with this menu. BOMBAY SEVICHE OF SEA SCALLOPS, RED ONION AND CORIANDER (12 servings)

A tart and flavorful start to an exotic meal, this Asian answer to seviche is also delicious when made with small chunks of well-trimmed monkfish.


1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup lime juice plus juice of 1 lime

2 teaspoons lime zest


2 pounds sea scallops, rinsed, patted dry and trimmed, and sliced in thin rounds

1 medium red onion, cut in thin strips top to bottom

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon oriental chili sauce or 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1/3 cup fresh coriander leaves

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

3 ripe avocados

Juice of 1 lime

Leaf lettuce leaves for garnish

Coriander leaves for garnish

Combine salt, 1/2 cup lime juice and lime zest and toss with scallops which have been rinsed and patted dry. Cover, refrigerate and marinate 6 or 8 hours or until the scallops are opaque and firm.

Marinate the onions in iced water for 1/2 hour and drain. Combine onions with garlic, chili sauce, coriander leaves, vegetable oil, sesame oil, and black pepper and set aside.

Peel avocados and cut in 1/2 inch dice and toss with the juice of 1 lime.

Just before serving, arrange lettuce leaves on chilled salad plates. Drain scallops and toss with the onion mixture. Gently fold in the avocado and mound onto the lettuce leaves. Garnish with coriander and serve. NAAN Leaf Shaped Indian Bread (Makes 12 breads)

In India, when the tandoor oven is fired up for roasting poultry, the tandoor tender flattens lumps of a dough very similar to this one into a leaf or teardrop shape. He then reaches into the hot oven and gingerly sticks one end of the naan to the wall of the oven, where it hangs and roasts to a brown and chewy perfection. In the absence of a tandoor, a lightly greased griddle or skillet will produce admirable naan. For best results, plan to have your naan cooker begin to cook your naan just before you take the turkey out of the oven. By the time everything is ready to serve, the naan will be coming out of the broiler, hot, fragrant and chewy.

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons ghee or melted butter

Black cumin or onion seeds for garnish

Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and stir in eggs, oil and yogurt to make a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured board for 5 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a piece of plastic wrap and a towel. Set in a warm place and let rise for 3 hours.

Knead for 2 minutes and divide dough into 12 pieces. With your hands, pull and pat each piece into a teardrop shape about 8 inches long. Heat a heavy griddle or skillet and wipe with a paper towel dipped in oil. Place as many naan as will fit in a single layer and cook over medium high heat for about 2 minutes. Check bottoms frequently for burning and regulate temperature. Turn the naan and cook about 2 minutes on the other side, until golden brown and slightly puffed.

Arrange the naan in a single layer on a broiler pan and brush the tops with a little ghee or melted butter. Sprinkle with the seeds and broil about 2 minutes. Serve warm. CURRIED SWEET POTATOES AND PUMPKIN (12 servings)

Butternut, acorn or any other winter squash can be substituted for the pumpkin.

1 pound sweet potatoes

1 pound pumpkin flesh

2 tablespoons ghee

1 tablespoon coriander

2 teaspoons fenugreek

1 teaspoon cardamom

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced

1 1/4 cups thick coconut milk

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

1 or 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Salt to taste

Toasted, slivered almonds for garnish, optional

Scrub sweet potatoes and cook in lightly salted boiling water until tender but firm. Drain, peel and cut in 3/4-inch cubes.

Peel and seed pumpkin and cook in lightly salted boiling water until tender but firm. Drain and cut in 3/4-inch cubes.

Heat the ghee in a heavy flameproof casserole and fry coriander, fenugreek, cardamom and ginger over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Add coconut milk and juices and salt to taste. Stir in potatoes and pumpkin, cover and heat in a moderate oven about 30 minutes. Garnish with toasted almonds and serve. ALU BARTHA (South Indian Mashed Potatoes with Cumin) (12 servings)

2 tablespoons ghee

1 teaspoon black mustards seeds

1 medium onion, finely minced

1 fresh jalapeno chili, seeded and very thinly sliced

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 pounds potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed

Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Heat ghee and fry mustard seeds over moderate heat. Stir until they pop. Add the onion and chili and cook until the onion is lightly browned. Add the spices and stir 1 minute. Add lemon juice.

Stir spice mixture into hot, freshly mashed potatoes and correct seasonings. Spoon into a heated serving bowl, garnish and serve very hot. PALAK BHAJI (Spiced Spinach) (12 servings)

Almost any green, leafy vegetable can be used in this dish. Mustard greens are frequently used in India.

1/4 cup ghee

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, to taste

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds fresh spinach, thoroughly washed, drained and stemmed

Watercress sprigs for garnish

Heat ghee and oil in a wok or large, heavy saucepan. Stir-fry the onions several minutes, over moderate heat until golden. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry 2 or 3 minutes more. Add seeds and spices and stir 1 minute. Gradually stir in the spinach with the water that clings to the leaves.

Cook, stirring it down until spinach is limp. Add salt to tast and a little water if necessary and cook over medium low heat a minute or two. Garnish and serve hot. Adapted from "The Complete Asian Cookbook" by Charmaine Solomon, McGraw-Hill, 1976. BABY CARROTS WITH CARDAMOM AND GINGER (12 servings)

If you can't find baby carrots, substitute slender, straight "adult" carrots sliced diagonally. This dish is also wonderful using half sliced carrots and half sliced parsnips.

2 pounds baby carrots, scrubbed and trimmed

6 tablespoons butter

2 medium onions, minced

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated

1 to 2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Salt to taste

Grated nutmeg for garnish

Cook the carrots in boiling salted water until tender but firm. Drain. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and saute' the onions and ginger until the onion is quite limp and lightly golden. Add the carrots and stir to coat. Add the sugar, cardamom and salt to taste. Turn into a heatproof casserole, cover and bake in a 325 oven for 25 minutes. Dust with freshly grated nutmeg and serve hot. SALAT (Tangy Salad for Tandoori) (12 servings)

This salad traditionally serves as a bed for tandoori meats. In this case, use about one-third of the salad to ring the tandoori turkey and present the remaining two-thirds in a salad bowl.

Oil is not used in the dressing for salad, but if you feel a salad is "undressed" without oil, add about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil with the lemon juice.

2 large red onions, peeled and sliced into paperen Pilau with very satisfactory results. I prefer to leave it unstuffed for two reasons. The grains of rice in the pilau loose some of their desirable chewiness after 6 to 8 hours inside the roasting turkey. Also, the turkey roasts more quickly and evenly when unstuffed, and the smokey flavor pervades the turkey from the inside as well as the outside.

18 to 20 pound turkey

3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

4 teaspoons salt


2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon saffron, soaked in 1 tablespoon boiling water, or substitute a few drops of red and yellow food coloring

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 cups plain yogurt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter or 1/2 cup ghee

1 recipe Golden Pilau with Fruit and Almonds, as stuffing (optional)

1/3 recipe salat (see above)

Wash turkey inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Reserve the neck, heart and gizzard for the gravy. Gently loosen the skin from the breast and thigh by sliding your hand under the skin. Combine lemon juice and salt and rub all over the bird, inside and out and under the skin.

In a small, ungreased skillet toast the coriander and cumin seeds over moderate heat for a minute or 2, shaking the pan constantly. When they are fragrant, put them in a blender container and blend until finely ground. Add all the remaining ingredients except the unsalted butter or ghee, and salat, and blend. Set aside 1/2 cup of the yogurt mixture for the gravy.

Rub the mixture over the entire surface of the turkey, under the skin and inside the cavities too. Cover and refrigerate 2 days.

Remove turkey from the refrigerator about 2 hours before cooking. Loosely stuff with pilau, if desired. If stuffed, sew up the openings with stout thread or dental floss.

If not stuffed, fasten the skin flap under the bird with a skewer. Lock the wings behind the back and tuck the legs under the skin band at the opening of the large cavity.

To cook in a covered, kettle type barbeque, proceed as indicated above, and follow the directions for indirect cooking supplied by the manufacturer. Place the turkey in a foil roaster pan to catch the drippings and cook about 12 minutes per pound. Baste frequently with unsalted butter or ghee. When basting, add a few charcoal briquettes to the fire as needed, to keep it going.

To cook in a conventional oven: Place turkey breast side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and brush it all over with butter or ghee. Roast 1 hour at 325 degrees in this position and then turn the bird so it is resting on its back. Brush again with butter or ghee and continue roasting for a total time of about 18 minutes per pound. Continue to baste occasionally.

Remove turkey from oven or barbeque when done or it has reached an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Allow to rest 20 minutes before carving. Reserve drippings for gravy.

To serve, arrange the salad around the edge of a large oval platter and set the turkey in the center. Garnish with lemon wedges. Squeeze a 1/2 lemon over the turkey just before bringing to the table -- the rich aroma of spicy roasted turkey spiked with a whiff of citrus is something to be truly thankful for. GRAVY OF TURKEY ESSENCE AND YOGURT (12 servings)

Though tandoor roasted meats are not usually served with a gravy, we have Thanksgiving tradition to think about. Turkey without gravy no matter how it is fixed would certainly arouse dissent even among gustatory liberals. This gravy is a delicious complement to the turkey as well as the Golden Pilau and the Spicy South Indian Mashed Potatoes.

Neck, heart and gizzard from the turkey

Water to cover by 1 inch

2 pieces fresh ginger (the size of a quarter)

1 medium onion, diced

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

Drippings from Turkey Tandoori

2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

1 cup plain yogurt

Reserved yogurt marinade from the turkey

Salt to taste

In a saucepan, combine the giblets and water with the next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil and skim off the skum. Lower heat to a simmer and cook 2 hours, partially covered. Strain and measure, adding enough water or chicken broth to make 2 1/2 cups.

Skim most of the fat off drippings and scrape the dark bits loose from the bottom of the roaster. If they're really stuck, add a splash of the giblet stock to the pan and heat over a low flame, scraping to loosen.

Proceed to make the gravy by adding all the giblet stock and returning the drippings to the pan. Bring to a boil and add salt to taste. Thicken with the cornstarch and water and remove from the heat. Stir in the yogurt and reserved yogurt marinade and correct seasonings. Heat through but do not bring to a boil. Serve hot. GOLDEN PILAU WITH FRUIT AND ALMONDS (Makes 12 cups of pilau)

In all pilaus, the rice is fried in butter or ghee and spices before the liquid is added. Long grain rice, particularly the excellent basmati variety of Indian long grain rice, is used in a pilau. Basmati rice is available in many specialty shops and health food stores.

1/2 cup ghee or butter

1/4 cup slivered almonds

5 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely minced

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 1/2 cups shallots, thinly sliced

12 whole cloves

3-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken in half

10 cardamom pods, split and bruised

1 teaspoon turmeric

6 cups basmati rice, washed and drained

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup dried apricots, snipped in quarters

4 1/2 cups water

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

2 to 3 teaspoons salt

Fresh coriander and/or mint for garnish

In a large, heavy-bottomed dutch oven, heat the ghee and saute' the slivered almonds over moderate heat until golden. Remove with a skimmer and set aside.

To the hot ghee add the ginger, garlic, shallots and spices and fry until golden. Add the rice and stir 3 to 4 minutes, coating the rice with the ghee. Add the raisins, apricots, water, stock and salt and bring to a boil. Correct seasonings.

Allow to boil on medium-high heat until craters appear in the surface of the rice. Cover tightly and reduce heat to very low and leave 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and without lifting the cover, allow to rest off the heat for 10 minutes. Serve very hot, garnished with the reserved toasted almonds and sprigs of fresh mint or coriander. CRANBERRY APPLE CHUTNEY (Makes 3 cups)

As with most cooked chutneys, this one benefits from being made several days ahead. Store in the refrigerator but serve at room temperature.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 cup shallots, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup water

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 1/2 pounds tart cooking apples, such as granny smiths, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1-inch piece stick cinnamon

3 cups raw cranberries, washed and picked over

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Zest of 2 lemons

Salt to taste

Fresh lemon juice to taste

In a small skillet, heat oil and saute' shallots and garlic until limp and faintly golden. In a stainless steel or enamelware pan, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Add the shallots and garlic and the lemon juice, apples, ginger, pepper flakes and cinnamon.

Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add cranberries and allspice and simmer until the cranberries pop. Add lemon zest and allow to cool. Add salt and lemon juice to taste if needed. FRESH CORIANDER CHUTNEY (Makes 1 cup)

Redolent with the pungent aroma of fresh coriander and bound with the rich creaminess of thick coconut milk, this chutney is a real flavor sparkler. Though basically intended as a condiment for the turkey, when tossed with cold, cooked rice, it makes a very special salad.

2 bunches fresh coriander leaves and stems, thoroughly washed and drained

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons coconut milk

3 tablespoons fresh coconut meat, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons shallots, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced

1 teaspoon fresh green chili, seeded and minced

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly gound black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender jar and process until pure'ed. Correct seasonings with more sugar, salt or lemon juice if needed. May be served immediately or kept refrigerated for a few days. SRI LANKAN HOLIDAY "LOVE" CAKE (Makes 16 2-inch squares)

Your favorite family recipes for pumpkin and mincemeat pies will go beautifully with this menu, but this "Love Cake" is sure to become a new favorite. It is a specialty of Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, "the pearl at the throat of India," . . . "the land of serendipity."

It is a very rich moist cake. Served in small pieces with fresh whipped cream on top and a cup of your best coffee, it is the perfect finish to this special feast.

Butter for brushing

7 eggs, separated

1 pound confectioners' sugar plus extra for dusting

8 ounces semolina

12 ounces raw cashews, finely chopped

2 tablespoons rose water

2 tablespoons honey

3/4 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon mace

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup whipping cream, freshly whipped (optional)

Butter and line an 8-inch square baking pan with 2 thicknesses of parchment paper. Brush the top layer with melted butter.

Beat the egg yolks and confectioners' sugar until light and creamy. Stir in the semolina, cashews, rose water, honey, lemon zest, spices and almond extract.

Beat egg whites until they hold in firm peaks and fold into the mixture, turn into the prepared pan and bake in a 300-degree oven for about 1 hour, or until the cake is evenly golden brown on the top and feels firm to the touch. If cake starts to brown too quickly, loosely cover the top with foil.

When cooked, the center of the cake should still be somewhat moist, so the skewer test is not recommended.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the baking pan.

Do not attempt to turn out of the pan. When cool, place a paper doily on top and dust with confectioners' sugar. Remove the doily, leaving a lacey design on top. Cut into squares just before serving. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Adapted from "The Complete Asian Cookbook," by Charmaine Solomon, McGraw-Hill, 1976.