Creamy curried chicken salad. Classic chicken salad gets a tasty flavor twist with an Indian-inspired, creamy curry dressing, sweet red grapes and crunchy cashews. Lunch is ready!
Curried Chicken Salad
After sweating my brains out in hot yoga this morning I needed a nourishing lunch. Thankfully, this curried chicken salad was waiting in the fridge when I got home. I love it when I have healthy food made ahead just waiting. No work, just eat. And the batch I made provided several lunches.
Start By Poaching Chicken (or use leftover chicken)
Poaching chicken is an easy, fast cooking method you should make your friend. Use boneless skinless chicken breasts. It takes about 15-18 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breasts. After poaching, cool the chicken and cut into cubes for the chicken salad. If poaching is new to you, read my post on how to poach chicken breasts. You’ll see how easy it is. You can also use leftover cooked chicken.
Make the Dressing
The creamy, Indian-inspired dressing can be made ahead for the flavors to blend or made and used right away. You can make it a day or three ahead, then assemble your salad when you need to eat. I use a combination of plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. For paleo, use all mayonnaise and skip the yogurt. I use organic Vegenaise or Primal Kitchen which is avocado oil-based.
Notes on Curry Powder
Curry powder is actually a blend of spices, like chili powder. While authentic Indian cooks will have their own secret family blend, it’s easier to buy one. Curry powder comes from mild or “sweet” to hot.
Golden yellow in color, curry power is typically a blend of turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, fennel, cinnamon, dry mustard, white, red or black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cayenne pepper, chile peppers and sometimes saffron. No wonder it tastes so good! Try different brands and find your favorite because they do taste different.
The Natural Power of Curcumin
The base for many curry powders is bright orangey-yellow spice called turmeric. Long used in Chinese and Indian medicine, turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory. Curcumin has been shown to lower our risk for heart disease and is a powerful tool in fighting cancer. Read more about the power of turmeric here.
Curcumin is so effective, I take 2 grams of it a day in capsule form, far more than you could ever eat as part of a normal diet. It’s helped tremendously with my fight to manage osteoarthritis without any drugs.
Menu Planning & Make Ahead Tips
You can poach your chicken 3 days ahead of time, then make your salad. You can even make the dressing ahead and refrigerate it, allowing the flavors to blend. When ready to serve, mix the chicken, dressing together with the nuts and grapes (which can all be prepped ahead).
Curried chicken salad can be served in lettuce cups, over salads greens or alone. If you eat paleo, try coconut wraps.
Curried Chicken Salad
- 1 1/2 pounds cooked boneless skinless chicken breast see recipe to poach
- 1/2 cup Vegenaise or mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or extra mayo for paleo
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 lime juiced
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped cashews
- 1 large rib celery chopped
- 12 red grapes halved
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro or Italian parsley
- Slice chicken breast into long thin pieces about 1/2" thick, then into small cubes about 1/2" thick. See photo in post for help.
- Make the dressing - In a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise, yogurt, curry powder, honey, cumin, lime, juice, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth. The dressing can be made ahead.
- In a medium bowl, mix the chopped chicken, grapes, celery, cashews and dressing, folding together until the all ingredient are coated. Stir in the cilantro and mix lightly one more time.
- Serve the curried chicken salad alone or in lettuce cups (wraps), paleo wraps or whole wheat pita halves.