To say that I miss the United States is a bit of an understatement! Though I’ve lived overseas off and on at different points in my life, the four and a half years that I’ve now been in Paris make this the longest period that I’ve been outside of the States. Overall...it’s been a wonderful experience. There are countless things that I love about living in Paris, in France and in Europe generally, things that I know that I will miss if and when we do go back Stateside at some point. But then are there are so many distinctly “American” things that I, probably like many other American expatriates, feel nostalgic for. Things like baseball and football games (American football, that is!), excellent customer service, hard-to-find food products, particular restaurants and shops and of course wonderful holidays such as the Fourth of July and my favorite of all, Thanksgiving!
Ahhh….Thanksgiving! An entire holiday devoted to food, family, friends and…did I mention food? What’s not to love? Since moving here, I’ve only been home in Paris for one Thanksgiving (back in 2007), when (mostly) American friends and I got together for a great potluck dinner with turkey, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese (made by yours truly), cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and all the other good stuff. But during all of the other years, I have spent Thanksgiving elsewhere (Cape Verde, Tunisia, India) or in airplanes and have not had the chance to celebrate. Luckily I’ll be home this year, and plans are already underway for Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s place. It’ll also be my husband’s first Thanksgiving ever, so that makes this year extra special.
To get into the pre-Thanksgiving spirit, I wanted to concoct a recipe for an Indian-flavored cranberry chutney to serve with vegetable fritters for a friend’s apéro (that's short for apéritif, which in this sense means a little get-together at somebody’s place with drinks and nibbles). Fresh cranberries, though they would have been my preference, are hard to come by here (beyond American shops and I did see a bag at La Grande Epicerie yesterday). Luckily we had a bag of dried ones on hand from our last trip to the States and these worked perfectly!
I sautéed onion, garlic and ginger with the typical Indian spices and then added the dried cranberries, fresh coriander and a bit of water. Then everything went into the blender along with more water, and for a special touch, some pomegranate juice! Everything was ground together, and voila, the chutney was good to go! The vegetable fritters that I served it with (termed as ‘Indian latkes’ by my friend Lauren) are adapted from a recipe from Bon Appétit that I would be happy to share. The chutney would be great with any kind of Indian snack (vadas, pakoras, samosas, etc.) or even with tortilla chips, brie en croûte, goat cheese toasts…the possibilities are endless!
INDIAN CRANBERRY CHUTNEY
Makes 1.5 cups
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ onion, diced very fine
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon chili powder or chili sauce (as you can probably guess, I used the latter as made by my hubby!)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
½ cup water
½ cup pomegranate juice
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add cumin seeds. Once the seeds start to mop, add the diced onion.
2. After the onions have become translucent, add garlic and ginger pasts and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add all of the spices. Blend well and cook for a minute more.
3. Add dried cranberries, fresh coriander and ½ cup water. Simmer for 5 minutes
4. Pour mixture into the blender along with the remaining ½ cup water and the pomegranate juice. Blend until a chunky liquid is formed (add more water if you prefer a more watery chutney).
5. Serve garnished with additional chopped fresh coriander, if desired.