Volume 3, Number 180
'There's a Jewish story everywhere'

Sunday-Monday, September 6-7, 2009

A spicy holiday turkey -- Bene Israel style

By Nissim Moses

PETAH TIQWA, Israel —Though I grew up watching my mother cooking and had a proficiency badge in cooking in the scouts, I really did no cooking. One day after we emigrated to Israel my mother was encouraged by a friend to enter a cooking competition organized by the Ministry of Agriculture in Israel to promote Jewish cuisine and I decided to enter her recipe for roast Stuffed Chicken. But there was one problem. In India she had never cooked this in a grill or oven but on a sigri (coal fire) or on a kerosene stove so I had to show her how to use & cook the stuffed roast in an oven.

She won the prize at the competition and another with fish pullao a year later in another such competition. She also made Stuffed Duck Roast. That was then the end of my cooking experience till I went to the USA on an assignment for two years. My wife being too unwell to cook, we used to eat ready microwave meals or get ready food from the supermarket till one day my sister visited us and getting tired of ready food she started making fresh meals. This ignited the flame in me. On our next trip to New York City from Newark in upstate New York, we visited Little India and bought a stockpile of Indian Spices.

Then came along Thankgiving and my company gave all its employees a turkey. Now preparing this Turkey became a challenge. I invited several of my friends for thanksgiving dinner and for this dinner I prepared Bison Rump Roast, Tandoori Chicken, Stuffed Roast Turkey & Vegetable Pullao. The Dinner was a hit. A month or so later my children who were living in the USA visited us for the Chanukah holiday season.

The day they were to go skiing I decided to surprise them with my Turkey Dinner upon their return. They had never ever seen
their daddy cook and were very skeptical of the quality of the results and actually wanted to go out for dinner but I insisted that they come home for dinner along with their two friends. Needless to say at the end of the dinner there were no leftovers.

Then we relocated on another assignment to India and during this time my Stuffed Roast Turkey graced my dinner table for
every Rosh Ha Shana festive meal at my home, in the synagogue Seder and for the secular New Year's Eve Dinner.

Stuffed Roast Turkey

5-6 Kg (approximately 11-13.5 pounds) Turkey (Slit only from the stomach side-Cleaned washed & koshered, as usual legs, head to be cut off- Keep the liver, gizzard, heart, cleaned and washed and koshered).

When Turkey is ready apply the following:

Spices for Marinate & Stuffing {Make two set of this mixture)
In a bowl mix the following for preparing the marinate:
4 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Mixture of the following in 2 tablespoon Lemon Juice and I cup white wine (Sweet):
2 Tablespoons Garam Masala –Indian Spice mixture
2 Tablespoons Curry Masala –Indian Spice mixture
1.5 Tablespoon Mint Paste – (I use Coleman's ready Paste)
1 Tablespoon Coriander Powder
1 Tablespoon Whole Pepper Corns
1 Tablespoon Cumin Seed
2 Tablespoon Ginger paste
2 Teaspoon Cardamom Powder
2 Teaspoon Mace Powder
3 Tablespoons Celery Paste
1 Tablespoon Pepper Powder
0.5 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 Tablespoon Whole Pepper Corns
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Tablespoon Garlic Paste
2 Teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
2 Tablespoon Lemon Pepper Powder
Keep aside for one hour

For each i.e The Marinate and the Stuffing use:
5-6 Onions Medium Sized- chopped into a thick paste in the Electric Chopper
5 Tomato Medium Sized- Chopped into a paste in the Electric Chopper
Keep aside

Additional Ingredients For Marinate & Stuffing
A Mixture of the following ingredients in paste form in an electric chopper is prepared for the marinate.
For the stuffing the same ingredients but in half the quantity in paste form and the balance in chopped form is prepared.
100 gm (3.5 ounces) Skinned Sliced Almonds
100 gm (3.5 ounces) Skinned Sliced Pistachios
100 gm (3.5 ounces) Cashews
100 gm (3.5 ounces) Pine Nuts
One may use alternatively or additionally 100 gm (3.5 ounces) of each Macadamia nuts, sweet walnuts, skinned Brazilian nuts especially in larger Turkeys.

Chop the Liver, heart and gizzard
Chop 2 hard boiled eggs.
Chop 2 Large potatoes chopped into small cubes and baked crisp in an oven.
Chop Four slices of bread into cubes and baked crisp in the oven

The Marinate
Keep a flying pan on the fire and when hot, put 4 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, when the oil is hot put in the chopped onions and fry to a light golden color then add the chopped tomato. Then put In the mixture of the spices and the nut pastes. When the mixture is ready on the pan. Set aside and let it cool. When cool add 1 cup of white rum or brandy or vodka to the marinate.

The Filling/Stuffing
In the same manner prepare the stuffing but to the stuffing add the chopped potato, the liver preparation of liver and gizzard etc mentioned below. Only just before starting to stuff the Turkey add the bread.

Preparation of Liver, Heart, egg and Gizzard mixture. - Cook the Gizzard separately from the liver, heart etc by adding pepper, salt turmeric to taste. After the two i.e. the Gizzard & the Liver are ready mix and keep. Now in a pot add some onions and fry to a golden color and add the mix with a little water and let it cook till dry. This mixture is then added to the Stuffing mixture above.

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Preparation of the Turkey:
In a large bowl add one large mug of water, place the Turkey in it & pre cook it in large volume Microwave Oven on high for 30 minutes (If Microwave oven has no rotisserie then stop oven after 15 minutes and turn the turkey over and continue cooking for another 15 minutes and repeat till the Turkey is semi cooked. Keep the stock & add to the marinate & stuffing mixture and set aside some for putting on the turkey during the checking while it is being cooked.

Let the pre-cooked Turkey cool so it is easy to handle and apply the marinating mixture prepared above. The Marinate is applied both to the inside and outside and also under the skin of the Turkey. Put the marinated Turkey in the nylon foil totally enclosed and keep aside for 4 -6 hrs at least.

Remove the nylon foil and place the Turkey on a double layer of extra broad Aluminum foil coated with olive oil. There should be enough spare Aluminum Foil so that after stuffing the turkey, the Foil is able to completely cover the Turkey and enough to roll the edges together. Close the stomach of the Turkey by binding with roasting cord. Keep the Enclosed Stuffed Turkey in a cool place overnight.

Pre heat the Oven to Grilling temperature, till a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit is achieved. Now put the Turkey in the oven for 20 minutes at a temperature setting of 170 degrees centigrade. Then let the Turkey remain in the oven 20 minutes without opening the oven Then again let the Turkey cook in the oven at the temperature of 170 degrees for 20 minutes and let it stay in oven for another 20 minutes. Repeat this cycle for 2 hours. After 2 hrs take out the Turkey from the oven and check whether the meat is tender by opening the aluminum foil carefully at the top (Put some of the stock on the turkey to keep the bird moist repeat this every time one takes out the turkey for checking). If not, repeat process and check after every cycle. Do not be afraid of the Turkey burning in this cycling process as it will not happen due to the aluminum foil covering the Turkey. Always raise the cooking liquid inside the foil to the top. When Turkey is cooked & 10 minutes prior to the end of last heating cycle add 2 cups of orange juice, 1 Tablespoon nutmeg powder, 0.5 teaspoon cardamom and 1 teaspoon of Star Anis Powder to the mixture in the aluminum foil and place in the oven for a balance of the heating cycle of 20 minutes and then cool for 20 minutes to achieve serving temperature. Estimated total cooking time in cycles mention above 4 to 5 hours.

Decoration and Serving of Turkey.
Place on a large serving tray preferably of plastic. The tray should be layered with mashed potatoes of 3 potatoes. 2 tablespoon of grated coconut powder a few red and green cherries skinned almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, dried apricots and chopped green coriander leaves. Garnish with slices of tomatoes and lemon rinds and some slices of avocado. On the decoration and garnishing pour some lemon juice and black pepper or lemon pepper. Place the hot Turkey from the oven on the serving tray and serve hot.

About our guest chef:

Nissim Moses graduated as an Engineer, from Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi, India, in Electronics and Communication Engineering. He immigrated to Israel in 1966. He founded, established and was Head of the Acoustic Department of Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (IAI). While in this position he was appointed as an Advisor to the Environmental Protection Service later to become the Israel Ministry of the Environment. He established their Acoustic Unit and in parallel taught acoustics on a voluntary basis at the Masters Level at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was a guide for candidates at the Master's and Doctoral level.

In 1982 Moses was elected by a landslide victory to the IAI Eng. Trade Union and went on to become a member of the Central Secretariat of both the Histadrut of Engineers and The Lishkat Ha-Mehandesim in Israel.

In 1993 he was appointed Director and given the task of establishing the Liaison Office of Israel Aircraft Industries in New Delhi, India. During his tenure of four years the sales of IAI to India went from zero to US$ 450 million. He won 19 contracts without loosing one; in addition contracts worth US$ 200 million were won during his tenure, but signed at a later date.

Moses has published several papers in acoustics and has been an advisor to the Supreme Court of Israel. In 1993, ninety percent of the professionals working in acoustics in Israel were his students.

In 1999 Moses initiated the project of creating a Communal Family Tree of the Bene Israel of India. Ten years later the data bank has more than 13,000 names and several thousands of photographs and hundreds of biographies emphasizing the contribution of The Bene Israel community to the development of modern India. Several branches of the Family Tree go back to the year 1650. In parallel, he has undertaken the task of updating and writing the heritage and history of the Bene Israel (in digital format). The book includes the history, the cuisine, the recordings of prayer chants and a pictorial presentation of selected synagogues in India and most of the synagogues in Israel that were established by the Bene Israel community. He further researched the origin of the Bene Israel family names and has shown that they have a Hebrew/Aramaic origin. During his research he uncovered several important artifacts and historical facts.

In late 2000s, along with interested colleagues - The Bene Israel Heritage Museum and Genealogical Research Center – a foundation has been established both in India and Israel. The aim of the foundation is to disseminate information about the Bene Israel community, their traditions, customs, social and cultural values and to try and establish a museum, a genealogy website and thus to enhance the exposure of talented artists, writers, and other professionals from the members of the Bene Israel community.

Copyright 2007-2009 - San Diego Jewish World, San Diego, California. Recipe copyright 2009 Nissim Moses

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