Monday, May 27, 2013

Curry Chicken Salad and Indian Chutney Dip

Day 35

Recently, on Ina Garten’s show, I watched as she prepared a chicken salad with curry that included raisins and mango chutney. Because I’m not a big fan of mixing sweets and savories, I began wondering how it might work if I made my own version of the chicken salad without the sweet component.  

Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013
I’m happy to report that it worked quite nicely, and it’s a chicken salad that I’ll make again and again, to be sure.Since curry is a classically Indian spice, I opted to take my recipe for green chutney that I always serve with Indian food and turn it into a yogurt dip to serve with cucumbers and tomatoes. A cold plate of curry chicken salad sandwiches with romaine lettuce paired with a cucumber salad with green chutney dip was the perfect dinner for a warm evening. Since everything is made ahead, it’s a great meal to serve for casual dinners on the patio. 

Logistically speaking, I decided on store-bought roasted chicken breasts to make things easier. Roasting a chicken at home is an even better option, but if it’s on sale, pre-roasted, I think that might save some time and unnecessary effort. 
It has always been my dream as an adult to have a place in the country where I could raise my own chickens, enjoy farm fresh eggs, and enjoy a curious medley of animals living in harmony. Growing up, that’s essentially what I had since we lived on a farm, but I didn’t appreciate the wholesomeness of it until now.

Whenever I go to the market, I see so much meat and poultry that it makes me afraid of our nation’s inability to sustain its production. We have become such a country of mass consumers that we have to search and shop very carefully to avoid hormone-injected, antibiotic-free meat. To avoid these unwanted additives, the price is often high, but we can make a difference by raising as much as we can on our own, then supporting our local farmers for the rest. 

Maybe you’ll choose to make this chicken salad with an organic chicken since it’s better for us, all around. And, don’t be afraid to experiment with the amounts of curry and cumin you add, as you might find that more is better to suit your taste. 

Curry Chicken Salad

5 cups roasted chicken breasts, chopped
4 large scallions, chopped with green 
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise (plus ½ cup more if needed for desired creaminess)
2 tbs. dry white wine
1 cup toasted cashews or black walnuts
4 tbs. curry powder
1 tsp. cumin
Salt and black pepper to taste

Combine the mayonnaise (1 cup to start), white wine, garlic, curry powder, 1½ tsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, and cumin. Mix well. Add chicken, scallions, and celery, and gently blend. Taste to determine personal preference for salt/pepper and creaminess. Add more mayo, salt, or pepper if desired. Finally, add cashews and combine gently. Chill for a few hours to allow flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature on sandwiches, in wraps, or on crackers. 

Indian Chutney Dip

2-3 large bunches cilantro, washed with bottom of stalks removed
3 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and chopped
½ tsp. grated ginger root
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
2 cups plain Greek yogurt (Fage brand recommended for best texture)

Into a food processor, place cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, lemon juice, ginger, and olive oil. Blend until completely smooth. Remove from food processor and pour into a mixing bowl. Add yogurt and fold until completely combined. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

*This dip is excellent with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. It can be tossed together just prior to presentation or served as a dip beside the vegetables. Serving with other Indian flavors—such as curry—results in the best flavor combination. 

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