While Westerners tend to think of the word homely as something unattractive in appearance, the British influence in India meant the word was also used to represent something intimate, pleasant and warm from one’s home. Turkeys are large birds native to the Americas but they were brought to India by British landlords and raised for special occasions like Christmas dinner.
This recipe, shared with us by chef Jerry Matthew of Spice Village, comes from an old Kumily family. We love the use of freshly ground cinnamon and the depth of flavour that comes from the ingredients in the brown gravy.
This is one of our absolute favourites of all the dishes we’ve learned to make in our South Indian travels, and our families have come to love and crave these flavours. We’ve come to understand at a taste bud level the affection a dish must achieve to earn such a strong association to be called “homely.”
Pro tip: The most common missing ingredient in modern cooking is TIME. Don’t rush this dish; instead, let it gently simmer into being until the turkey is truly fork tender.
Homely Cinnamon Roast Turkey Recipe
Yields 4 - 6 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cooking Time 45 - 60 minutes
Total 75 - 90 minutes
1½ Tablespoons coconut oil
4- 6 Indian cinnamon leaves
10 – 12 shallots, sliced lengthwise
2 Tablespoons ginger paste
3 – 4 green chillies, seeded and sliced lengthwise
4 sprigs fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 Tablespoon ground coriander powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 cups plum tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
1 kg raw turkey thigh or breast, cubed
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup coconut milk
Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the cinnamon leaves, sliced shallots, ginger, green chillies and curry leaves. Cook and stir until the shallots change to dark brown in colour – about 10 – 15 minutes.
Stir in the turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, coriander and pepper and cook a minute then add the tomatoes and salt.
Cook until the tomatoes get mashed and the oil leaves separates from the gravy.
Stir in the turkey with a little hot water as needed (to prevent sticking and help make a gravy) and mix well. Lower the heat and simmer until the meat is fork tender – about 30 – 45 minutes.
Finish the dish by stirring in the cinnamon and coconut milk. Heat through.