7 West Indian Thanksgiving Dishes to Add to Your Table this Year

by Alica Ramkirpal-Senhouse Instagram

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, but the food many immigrant cultures prepare include variations of their native dishes. As Indo-Caribbean-Americans, adapting tastes from home and merging with American dishes felt like the most natural way to celebrate: Pushing the turkey aside to make space for a whole roasted jerk chicken;  or, Trinidadian macaroni pie gets served instead of macaroni and cheese and while we may have added mashed potatoes, we never got rid Guyanese potato balls served with mango sour.

Growing up, mom made macaroni and cheese for my brother and I as a way to help herself assimilate into American food culture. She cooked the dishes she thought were most American based on what she saw in her environment—television commercials, sale items in the grocery store, and cooking shows. We wanted American food, after all, that’s what we were eating in school and what our friends ate, too.

When Thanksgiving came around my brother, and I contributed the more American dishes like cranberry sauce, stuffing, and classic apple pies, but whether we ate mom’s Guyanese pholourie or not, they had a place on our table because it’s what connected her to her place of home. As an adult, and now an avid cook, I understand mom’s thought process when it came to food. If it tastes great and makes people feel happy and nostalgic, then it belongs on a dinner table where people gather to reflect and be thankful. That is the motive behind all of my Thanksgiving dishes.

Where there’s togetherness, there’s always chatter about food and memories and what could be more American than a culture of immigrants embracing their identity through food?

Here are 7 West Indian Thanksgiving dishes we enjoy, and I’m sure your guests will love them, too.

1. Pholourie

thanksgiving dishes

A spiced split pea fritter. Soft and full of flavor. Pair with tamarind chutney or mango sour.

2. Saltfish Cake

thanksgiving dishes

Salted codfish mixed with mashed potato, garlic, scallions and hot pepper is everything you’ll want in an appetizer.

3. Cheese Roll

thanksgiving dishes

What’s not to love, spicy cheese enveloped in a flaky, buttery pastry. Make them smaller for a larger crowd.

4. Whole Roasted Jerk Chicken

thanksgiving dishes

Give your whole roasted chicken (or turkey) a makeover with heavily spiced jerk flavors.

5. Macaroni Pie

thanksgiving dishes

Mac and cheese gets a makeover with added flavor than baked until stiff. This is one side dish your guests will keep reaching for.

6. Baked Custard

thanksgiving dishes

Flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar make up this egg custard. A great alternative to pie.

7. Guava Cheesecake

thanksgiving dishes

Ok, so not inherently West Indian, but this flavor combo is magnificent! Plus this will be a stunner on your Thanksgiving table.

Alica Ramkirpal-Senhouse is an Indo-Caribbean blogger, marketing professional, and work-at-home mom. She is the editor and founder of Alica’s Pepperpot, a food blog focusing on West Indian/Caribbean-American cuisine. She is the daughter of Guyanese immigrants and originally from Queens, NY. She currently resides in sunny Florida with her husband and two sons.


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5 Indo Caribbean Food Experts you Need to Know This Winter Season

trinidad curry
Curried Chicken with Roti Parata or Roti, popular Middle Eastern/Indian cuisine

It is officially that time of year—the holiday season. There’s nothing like Christmas and New Year’s in the West Indies. Between the pepperpot in Guyana and the palm trees decorated in lights in Trinidad, the home food, warm weather and laid-back ambiance makes us wish we could escape the cold and head back to the Caribbean. Most of us, however, cannot “take holiday” and find ourselves hungry for fresh dhal puri and doubles. But, thanks to these Indo-Caribbean food bloggers, we can bring the motherland to our kitchens.

1. Matthew’s Guyanese Cooking

From Diwali mithai specialties to curry chicken, Matthew is creating a name for himself as a young Guyanese food blogger. He makes a great effort to incorporate Hindu holidays and traditions on his Instagram account, in conjunction with the customary foods and sweets associated with these religious events. However, his expertise does not end there, with new and alternative recipes for classic dishes such as curry chicken and bhara, Matthew takes center stage sharing both traditional Guyanese dishes as well as specific religious dishes made for festivals. His most popular YouTube video, with 1.4 million views, features his grandmother and focuses on the best tips to make the softest Guyanese paratha roti. In addition, his YouTube account is home to many videos offering guidance to Indo Caribbean cooking. Find recipes at @mattews.guyanese.cooking

2. Trini Cooking with Natasha

Natasha Laggan of Trini Cooking with Natasha is wildly popular throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. With humble beginnings, Natasha credits her love of food to her family’s business. She speaks of the nostalgia home food provides her as she reminisces memories of her grandmother’s cooking and helping her mother make sandwiches early in the morning. Featured by Forbes, Natasha grew her Facebook following quickly throughout the pandemic by posting old YouTube videos. Today, she has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and over 200K followers on YouTube. She uses her passion for cooking and Trinidadian culture to bring easy-to-follow recipes to viewers. Her following has now reached the West Indian diaspora globally as she has also become a brand ambassador to two well-known food companies.  Follow the food expert @trinicookingwithnatasha.

[Read Related: 5 Indo-Caribbean Recipes for the Holiday Season you Have to Make]

3. Cooking with Ria

With over 100K followers on YouTube, Ria is quite the expert when it comes to making roti. Her dhal puri, sada roti and paratha roti tutorials have over 1M views! However, her expertise does not stop there. Of the 180 YouTube tutorials, her recipes vary from curry to other Trinidadian favorites like macaroni pie and pigtail soup. Just scrolling through her YouTube page makes your mouth water. From doubles to classic Trinidad bakes like pound cake and sweet bread, she provides precision and anecdotal commentary while guiding you through the familiarity of home food. Check out Ria’s page at @cookingwithria.


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4. Chef Devan

Known as Chef Devan, Devan Rajkumar embraces his Guyanese Canadian heritage by creating recipes combining flavors of both the East and West Indies. His love of food has allowed him to expand his role to judge in a popular Canadian cooking show: Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. His cooking often blends the flavors of multiple cultures but also creates the classic recipes of his motherland. With a multitude of interests, Chef Dev uses his social media platform to connect with followers by sharing various aspects of his life that go beyond cooking. His most recent YouTube video provides a trailer for an upcoming video “Tastes Guyana” which shows him exploring Guyana from the inside, specifically deep parts of the inner country. To learn more about Chef Devan follow @chefdevan.


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5. Taste of Trinbago

Reshmi is the chef behind the growing blog, Taste of Trinbago. A Trinidadian native who now resides in Texas, she uses her love of food and Trinidadian culture to share hacks, tips and easy recipes with West Indians throughout the globe. She finds a way to simplify traditional West Indian meals, that we once watched our elders make with curiosity.  From holiday specialties like black cake to Diwali delicacies, Reshmi has brought vegetarian and non-veg recipes to followers in an extremely accessible way. She even posts recipe cards on her IG highlights for followers who may need written instructions. Her IG profile is a mix of various West Indian foods while also sharing bits of her life and even her secrets to baby food. Follow her @tasteoftrinbago.


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These are just five Indo Caribbean food bloggers sharing their secrets to easy cooking. The once very daunting recipes and food instructions our parents gave have been simplified by most of these bloggers through video, voice over and modernized recipes. We no longer have to estimate a “dash, pinch or tuk” of any masala. We are just days away from Christmas and this is the perfect time to find the best-suited recipe to make that paratha for Santa.

Featured Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Subrina Singh

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