Encountering one Thanksgiving’s biggest greens for the first time

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Putting an Indian spin on a Thanksgiving staple, Amisha Dodhia Gurbani has grown to love Brussels sprouts following an initial aversion. Photo by Iain Bagwell Photography.

Arriving in Los Angeles in 1999 to get her master’s degree in computer science, jammaker and author of “Mumbai Modern” Amisha Dodhia Gurbani shares recollections of her first Thanksgiving and the horror that were Brussels sprouts. She has embraced the vegetable, and in her latest cookbook weds Indian tradition with the California produce she has discovered in her adopted city by the Bay.

Brussels Sprouts, Dates, Walnuts, and Pomegranate Arils with Toasted 
Coriander-​Cumin Vinaigrette
Serves 5 to 6

When you immigrate to another country, you adapt to the different traditions and festivals celebrated in that country while trying to keep your own cultural traditions. Adapting to the United States was definitely a huge challenge, being away from my family with very few friends that I knew from Mumbai. I made new friends who were not Indian and I learned the American way of doing things. There was a lot to learn and unlearn, but as we come to a different place, we grow resilient and learn to adapt to the new ways with a smile. In the first year of my master’s program in Los Angeles, I came to know of the most important holiday: Thanksgiving. My first Thanksgiving was with a couple friends from Mumbai and a whole set of new American and international friends. We all made dishes and it was like an international potluck. One of the dishes was a brussels sprouts dish that I did not like. But that was the first time I was introduced to brussels sprouts. I realized over the years what a big part this cruciferous vegetable played for the biggest tradition and holiday in the United States. I grew to really enjoy this humble vegetable, especially knowing its umpteen health benefits. It is high in antioxidants, helps in prevention and fighting of cancer, is high in fiber, and, just like its cousins cauliflower and broccoli, it helps decrease the risk of diabetes.

Since having kids and wanting to make sure they get the proper nutrition, I have been making brussels sprouts regularly when they are in season with different preparations. One of my favorite ways is to make a toasted cumin-​coriander vinaigrette with smoked paprika and za’atar, tossing all the brussels sprouts in the vinaigrette and roasting them. Once roasted and nicely browned, I throw the sprouts together it with dates, walnuts, and pomegranate arils. The dish gets a lot of its flavor from the toasted cumin and coriander. The flavors are wonderful along with sweetness from the dates, crunch from the walnuts, and fall freshness from the pomegranate arils. The whole combination is so good and it has become a hit in our family and at any Thanksgiving get-​together.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon (1 g) coriander seeds
  • ¼ cup (32.5 g) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (29 g) apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (40 g) maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons (4 g) za’atar
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon (1 g) red chili flakes
  • 1½ teaspoons (9 g) flaky sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ pounds (680 g) brussels sprouts, halved
  • ¾ cup (100 g) coarsely chopped dates (about 12)
  • ¾ cup (90 g) coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
  • ½ cup (80 g) pomegranate arils

Instructions 

  1. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds: In a small saucepan on medium heat, toss the cumin and coriander seeds for around 2 to 3 minutes, until you start to smell their aroma and they are slightly browned. Turn off the heat. In a small coffee or spice grinder, coarsely grind the seeds.
  2. Make the vinaigrette: In a glass jar, add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, za’atar, smoked paprika, red chili flakes, flaky sea salt, black pepper, and ground toasted cumin and coriander seeds. Shake the jar vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds until the mixture has combined.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the brussels sprouts with the vinaigrette. Set them aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºF (200°C).
  5. Place the marinated brussels sprouts on a baking sheet, flat side down, and place it on the middle rack of the oven for about 35 minutes in total. Halfway through, remove the tray and, using a flat spatula, move the sprouts around to redistribute.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. 
  7. Return the brussels sprouts to the large bowl. Add the dates, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds and toss to combine.

PRO TIPS

**The salad can be made a day ahead and served at room temperature.

**The vinaigrette can be made a few days in advance and stored at room temperature.



California meets India in “Mumbai Modern.” Photo courtesy of The Countryman Press. 

Credits

Host:

Evan Kleiman