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Students share the stories behind their families’ Thanksgiving dishes

“Family tradition is important, especially in baking,” freshman Ally Hong said, “because it perpetuates family connection and bonds.” Graphic by Michelle Liu, used with permission.

In this article, students recount the stories behind their families’ traditional Thanksgiving dishes!

1. Freshman Maya Kadia – Masala Mac & Cheese 

When Maya Kadia sat down at her dinner table on Thanksgiving night, instead of digging into the traditional, creamy from-the-box Kraft macaroni and cheese, she was met with a simmering bowl of Indian spices. 

Masala mac and cheese, a suggestion from Maya’s aunt, blends the Kadia’s Gujarati roots with a classic Thanksgiving dish. Indian spices like paprika, cumin and turmeric provide bursts of flavor that personalize the recipe.

“It’s a multicultural twist that adds diversity and fun to the dinner table,” Kadia said.

To craft the dish, Kadia begins with cooking dried macaroni. The next few steps, however, are where she puts her own cultural twist on the traditional recipe. After she butters and seasons the noodles and cheese sauce, Kadia adds in garam masala, cumin, turmeric, paprika, cardamom, chili powder and tomato. These unique inclusions provide a burst of Gujarati flavor to the dish.

Kadia believes that “Thanksgiving is a holiday to share with family” and says that no Indian family dinner would be complete without a pinch of masala.

2. Freshman Ally Hong – Pumpkin Bread

One late October at just 8-years-old, Ally Hong, a current staffer for The Review, walked through her grandparent’s house, where she was met with the warm aroma of pumpkin and nutmeg. She traced the scent to the kitchen, where she found her grandmother baking a loaf of pumpkin bread—a staple of the Hong household. As she grew up, Hong picked up the intricate steps and began to replicate them in her own kitchen. 

“Every time I make the treat, I’m reminded of the wonderful times I spent in California with my grandparents,” Hong said.

The recipe includes a mix of the essentials—flour, eggs, butter, baking powder, sugar and oil—as well as some unique additions: brown sugar for extra warmth, cinnamon, nutmeg and seasonal pumpkin puree. 

Every year, her family tries a few new ingredients in the perpetual search for the perfect edition of the Hong classic. One year, Hong suggested they try adding cloves, an inclusion that added a special aroma to the holiday treat.

“I hope to continue making this recipe,” Hong said. “Family tradition is important, especially in baking, because it perpetuates family connection and bonds.” 

3. Sophomore Raka Agrawal – Blueberry Cobbler

Raka Agrawal whips up a batch of blueberry cobbler every year to the tune of nostalgic holiday classics and jingles. 

Agrawal says that the tried-and-true recipe satisfies every member of her extended family. She caters to each of her relatives’ preferences come Christmastime with this versatile desert: for her cousin (who despises fruit), her cobbler remains barren of any blueberries, while for her grandfather, she loads on the tangy produce. 

All she uses is milk, sugar, flour and half a cup of butter to make a cobbler base which Agrawal then manipulates in a variety of ways. From a diverse range of berry inclusions to a variety of preferential substitutions, Agrawal says possibilities for this Christmas classic are endless. 

On her visits to India, Agrawal brought self-rising flour from home to accommodate for the difficult nature of locating such ingredients at local grocery stores. 

“This cobbler was the first thing I learned to bake,” Raka said, “and it’s my most nostalgic recipe.”

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About the Contributors
Nia Shetty
Nia Shetty, Staff Writer
Nia Shetty ('27) joined The Review in 2023 as a freshman. She loves her dogs, Chuy and Casper. Her favorite TV character is Dr. House, whose unconventional approach to solving cases makes her laugh all the time.
Bella Dodig
Bella Dodig, Staff Writer
Bella Dodig ('27) joined The Review in 2023 as a freshman. She plays volleyball and loves all things grape-flavored. 

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