There is nothing more stressful than hearing my mom yell, “Grab the baking soda! Take the dishes out of the dishwasher! Sweep the carpet! Take the clothes out of the dryer!” a day before Thanksgiving dinner. Our house is swept in immediate chaos, as my parents can only afford to take the day off a day before the gathering and my mom always decides to invite more of our extended family than we can manage. I run around the house, obeying the queen's orders and tackling the chores step by step as she scurries her feet across the small kitchen, cooking murgir jhol (Bengali chicken curry), salads, kacchi biryani and a huge turkey seasoned with traditional Indian spices. The aroma of my mom's special murgir jhol fills our apartment as she squeezes yogurt, and then lemon juice, into the soupy curry. I take a look into the large pot the food is being prepared in, and the dark brown color causes my eyes to sparkle at the sight of the potatoes soaking up all the juicy goodness. The comfortable aroma of this dish is what makes Thanksgiving so special to me because it is only made for special holidays and occasions as a treat for my hardworking family.
Kaachi biryani is another special dish my mom makes for Thanksgiving. In this dish, layers of raw marinated meat are alternated in layers with various types of rice such as wet, pre-soaked, and raw. A yogurt based marinade at the bottom provides additional moisture, and potatoes are also added in to make sure the bottom layer does not burn easily. The colors alternate between white, orange and yellow between the different types of rice and the colorful theme suits the festive attitudes everyone has on the day of the dinner. In most Bengali holidays and special occasions such as family gatherings or even weddings, biryani is what makes everything feel complete. It originated in the city of Dhaka and was typically reserved for elites, but, due to immigration, spread across India and beyond for everyone to enjoy.
Although Thanksgiving is stressful to prepare for with all the cleaning and cooking involved, it still persists as one of my favorite holidays to celebrate, both with my favorite people and foods with my favorite people and favorite foods.