This recipe originally appeared in the November 2018 issue.

For our November 2018 “Feast Around the World” feature, we asked five of the state’s top chefs to create festive meals to serve this season. What we got was a cornucopia of global flavors. 

Not long after chef Kiran Verma opened her first upscale Indian restaurant in Houston, she started what would become a local tradition for many customers by offering her own version of a traditional Thanksgiving spread. It’s a tradition that moved with her when she opened Kiran’s, in 2004. Below is the recipe for the tandoori turkey that started it all and serves as the main event for Verma’s “Tandoori and Beyond” feast.

Tandoori Turkey in Spiced Yogurt

The turkey that’s become a Houston holiday tradition at Kiran’s is the focal point of chef Kiran Verma’s “Tandoori and Beyond” feast.
Servings 8 people



  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 cup kosher or coarse sea salt (not iodized table salt)
  • 1 bottle chardonnay
  • 1 12- to 14-pound turkey, not previously frozen if possible

Yogurt Marinade:

  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped garlic
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped ginger
  • 4 tablespoons serrano chiles, destemmed (seeds and veins removed, if you prefer less heat)
  • 4 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons fenugreek
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons powdered ancho chile
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt


  • 2 medium red onions, quartered
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 1 whole poblano chile
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole black cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 4 sprigs sage
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into about 4 pieces


  • reserved marinade and juices from roasting bag, cooled
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup cognac
  • ½ cup heavy cream



  • Toast the bay leaves, coriander seeds, juniper berries, peppercorns, and fennel and mustard seeds in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from pan immediately.
  • In a large container, make a brine by putting the toasted spices, salt, and chardonnay in 5 quarts of cold water.
  • Take the giblets out of the turkey and discard; rinse it inside and out. Remove any excess fat and pat dry.
  • Put the turkey in a brining bag, add the brine, and refrigerate for 12 hours.
  • Remove turkey, rinse inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brine.
  • Transfer the turkey to a roasting bag and refrigerate until ready to marinate.

Yogurt Marinade:

  • Blend all ingredients and pour into the roasting bag, making sure the marinade covers the turkey.
  • Tie the bag securely and place in a large, heavy pan, breast side down. Refrigerate overnight.


  • Assemble ingredients for stuffing turkey. No need to mix beforehand.

Cooking the Turkey:

  • Take the turkey out of the marinade bag and fill its cavity with Aromatics.
  • Spray the inside of a fresh roasting bag with nonstick cooking spray. Put the turkey in the bag and let stand at room temperature 1 to 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • With the turkey breast side up, cut 6 half-inch slits in the top of the bag. Roast the turkey for 40 minutes. Then reduce heat to 375 and continue cooking until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees (about 2½ hours for a 12-pound bird).
  • Take the turkey out of the oven, cut the bag open, and remove the turkey. Reserve the marinade and juices to make Gravy (recipe follows), but discard the bag and Aromatics.
  • Put the turkey back in the oven, uncovered, to brown for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Then transfer it to a platter and let it rest for about 30 minutes before carving.


  • Strain reserved marinade and juices into a large saucepan, skim off any fat, and reduce over medium heat until mixture is around 4 cups, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
  • In a large, heavy skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onion until lightly browned. Sprinkle with flour and cook until browned.
  • Add the wine and cognac and cook for a couple more minutes. Then stir in the reduced marinade and juices and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cream and heat through.
  • Refrigerate gravy if not serving within 1 hour; reheat slowly when ready to serve.


Gravy makes a generous 2 cups