Turkey & Duck: Celebrating Special Occasions With U.S. Poultry

Both, turkey and duck offer a different flavour profile compared to other meats. Their unique tastes make them a special treat for special occasions, adding variety to the menu. Being larger birds makes them suitable for serving a larger number of guests at gatherings and celebrations. The presentation of a whole roasted turkey or duck can be quite impressive, making it a centrepiece for special meals.

In many ancient cultures, turkey and duck have become traditional choices for special occasions. For example, in the United States, turkey is a staple of Thanksgiving dinners, while duck is often enjoyed during festive occasions in many countries. In India, duck and turkey continue to be enjoyed in many ways across the country including states such as  Tamil Nadu, parts of North-eastern India and Kerala amongst others.

Often associated with celebrations and abundance – turkey, for instance, has become a symbol of Thanksgiving, a holiday that revolves around gratitude and sharing. Ducks are considered to be lucky in some cultures while also being symbolic with prosperity, making them a popular choice for celebrations. Both poultry meats can be prepared in a wide variety of ways, from roasting to grilling to smoking. The bland flavours of turkey, can in fact, be adapted to suit a variety of Indian preparations like the Rajasthani laal maas or even as a lean meat to enjoy in a slow-cooked curry. On the other hand, the rich, fatty flavours of duck meat enable it to feature in curries like the East Indian Moilee or even a coconutty Madras Curry.

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The East Indian community inhabiting Mumbai – an ethnic group of Christians, have borrowed from various cultural influences that occupied then Bombay, and hence, duck has been part of their traditional treasure trove of recipes for decades.

Here is a recipe for a traditional-style East Indian Duck Moilee to recreate at home:


  • 500 grams bone-in U.S. duck
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, sliced
  • 7 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 green chillies, slit
  • 1 tablespoon bottle masala
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • ½ tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt, to taste


  • Heat the ghee in a large pan and sear the duck pieces in small batches before setting aside.
  • Sauté the sliced onions in the same pan, to obtain full flavour of the duck meat before adding the ginger-garlic and chillies.
  • Add the bottle masala and stir well. Pour in the wine and allow it to simmer until most of the alcohol has evaporated.
  • Tip in the seared duck and add a bit more water to go around the sides, but not enough to submerge the meat fully.
  • Season well and cover the pan with a lid to cook for 40-45 minutes. To finish off the dish, add the garam masala and vinegar right at the end. Serve hot with pao.