Curried Chicken Salad

Well, well, well, summer, it’s not quite time for you but you are here anyway.  Today’s heat calls for a cold supper, and I don’t know a better cold supper than curried chicken salad served with lightly dressed tossed greens and a glass of chilled rose.

An exotic blend of spices, cool celery, crunchy almonds, and a hint of sweetness from golden raisins – this main dish salad has enough bold flavors and interesting texture to tempt your palate even though the humidity might be wearing you down.

Yes, you’ll have to poach the chicken breasts, but you won’t have the heat on for long so nothing gets too hot in the kitchen.

I have used Penzey’s spices for ever and ever, and I especially like their curry blends.  There’s a heat level for every tastebud.  The sweet curry has lots of intense flavor without being hot or biting, which is what I want here to complement the delicate chicken rather than overpower it.  Something equally balanced or a garam masala would be make good substitutes.

Curried chicken salad travels well, therefore it’s both a great summer pot luck dish, and filling for sandwiches to pack in the cooler for a day at the beach.

Curried Chicken Salad

  • 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of your favorite mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp (or to taste) sweet curry powder
  • 1/2 cup of each: golden raisins, sliced almonds, diced celery, chopped scallions
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken breasts in a large saucepan.  Cover with cold water so that the water is about 2 inches above the level of the chicken.  Note:  You may flavor poaching water with aromatic vegetables (onion, carrot, celery, if desired and simmer these together with the chicken for extra flavor.

Cover and heat over medium high heat just until the water is about to come to the boil.  Lower the heat to keep the water at barely simmering, cracking the pot lid if necessary to maintain the right temperature.  Poach the chicken for about 20 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.  Cover tightly and let the chicken sit for up to an hour in the hot poaching liquid.

Remove the chicken breasts and let rest until cool enough to handle.  Chop these into small pieces and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the curry powder and the mayonnaise, using your taste as a guide.  Blend.

Add to this the chicken, almonds, raisins, celery, and scallion.  Stir together, mixing to incorporate.  If the salad looks too dry, add more mayonnaise, a little at a time, until you have the salad the way you like it.  Taste for salt, and add some if necessary, along with a few grinds of fresh black pepper.  Stir.

Chill.  The curry flavors develop as the salad sits before serving.