PARIS -- When I was growing up in North Texas, Thanksgiving leftovers usually meant eating what was served for Thanksgiving -- save for a turkey noodle soup here and there -- day after day, until it was gone. Which is completely understandable -- who wants to go back into the kitchen after spending most of the week making pies, cakes, turkey and everything that goes with it?
One year, the day after turkey day, my uncle and I were in the kitchen, assigned with the simple task of warming up the gravy. As I stirred the gravy with a wooden spoon, he reached into the cabinet where Mom kept the spices and pulled out her bottle of Spice Islands curry powder. He sprinkled some into the pot. He tasted. I tasted. And with that one little addition, we went from a reheated traditional American dinner to Indian curry. Just like that.
Turkey plays well with lots of cuisines, and can be easily swapped out in recipes wherever you find chicken. Of course, you can make turkey tacos, turkey enchiladas and turkey noodle soup, too -- but this year, why not take turkey a bit further around the world?
Here are a couple of recipes to get you started -- both take almost no time to put together. They work nicely with leftover pumpkin pie, by the way.
Turkey curry with raita
Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients -- this curry takes minutes to put together. I serve it with rice, naan bread or both, along with raita to help put out the fire. If you don't like it spicy, cut back on the cayenne or leave it out.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh chopped ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
16 ounces can diced tomatoes, in juice
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, optional (for those who like it spicy)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (you may use the back of your knife)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 to 1 cup water
16 ounces cooked turkey, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Sliced lemons, for serving
Raita, for serving (recipe follows)
1. Put the vegetable oil in a large skillet, along with the onion, garlic, ginger, cumin and cinnamon. Cook over medium-high heat until the onions are golden brown, about 7-8 minutes.
2. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, cayenne (if using), fennel seeds, black pepper and salt. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add the yogurt and water, stirring constantly. Now add the turkey. Let mixture cook for 10 minutes and serve immediately with chopped cilantro, lemon and raita.
Nutritional analysis per serving, without raita: 313 calories, 15 grams fat, 16 grams carbohydrates, 27 grams protein, 70 milligrams cholesterol, 824 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 44 percent of calories from fat.
16 ounces Greek yogurt
1 cup cucumber, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pinch cumin
2 pinches cayenne
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
In a medium bowl, gently mix all of the ingredients. Refrigerate for an hour, at least, before using.
Nutritional analysis per 2-tablespoon serving: 25 calories, 1 gram fat, 2 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 50 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 37 percent of calories from fat.