Recipe: Chicken salad with turmeric

Honey I made you chicken curry salad for lunch,” I cheerfully told the husband one afternoon  *as I made him tea while he watches football, relaxing after a day of hard work.

*This would have been an ideal scene, one that my husband would have been secretly wishing, except that I’m not “that ideal wife” so I didn’t prepare him tea while we watches football. I made him set up a table so that we could eat, then told him to feed the kid. But you get the picture.

However this post is not a critic of the housewife image but this story started that afternoon when I had some leftover chicken strips sitting in the fridge. Although they were as hard a rock, I didn’t want to them to end in the bin so I made chicken curry sandwich spread for the husband. I don’t eat sandwich for lunch but I’m the one who gets tired seeing him pack a peanut butter sandwich or a cheese sandwich day in and day out. It wasn’t perfect but the husband loved it. So I thought I’d make a whole batch with freshly cooked chicken.

I finally got around to doing it last weekend. I made bouillon from a whole bird, like I always do, and used the meat to make my chicken curry salad.

There I was in the middle of a searing afternoon mixing ingredients, tasting, adjusting flavours. When I was almost finished I called the husband to taste my creation.

“So?”, I asked him, mouth tightly closed, eyebrows raised, both arms across the chest, expecting but one answer.

“Hmmmm yummy,” he said, careful not to disappoint me. “But I don’t taste the curry.” So I added more of the yellow powder I used the last time, adjusted the flavours and asked him to taste again.

The chicken curry salad still needed more curry so I poured at least half a jar of the yellow powder on the mixture.

“This is good already,” he finally said. Although unconvinced that he did like it, I put the salad in the fridge to cool.

The morning after

Sunday, 6:30 in the morning.

We were woken up by sunlight hurting our eyes. It’s promising to be another unbearably hot day in the Netherlands. But at least this time, we weren’t snatched away from our slumber by a screaming toddler. We got out of bed good-humouredly, excited for a breakfast of toast with a good spread of home-made chicken curry salad.

While I sip my tea, waiting for the daughter to wake up and join us for breakfast, the husband came down with a plastic jar. On the label it says CURRY POWDER. He was, as I assumed, already doubting “my curry powder.” He walked to the pantry and got the jar of my yellow powder, smelled both, inspected them meticulously and then he turned to me.

“You see, this is not curry powder,” waving the jar on my face.

I nonchalantly inspected both jars, smelled and tasted them and looked at the husband with that “oops” look. We both burst into laughter. Fortunately I still had time to adjust the flavours again. After I was done it smelled and tasted like a real chicken curry salad.

What that mysterious yellow powder is? I still don’t have any idea. But I suspect it’s turmeric! So much for being a kitchen goddess. Lesson learned here, is to always label your jars.

The recipe

I might have mixed up my yellow powders but one thing I can assure you is that my chicken curry salad is delicious because I got lucky that turmeric doesn’t really have a strong flavour. Except for the colour, whatever taste turmeric powder adds to a dish is neglectable. Curry powder is however another story.

Anyway this recipe is ideal for your husband (especially if he is Dutch) if he brings lunchbox to the office. Mine usually brings boterham.

(Boterham – I’ll save you the headache and the discussion so let’s just call it sandwich).

Shredded meat from a whole chicken (or chicken breast if you don’t want to go through the whole process of making broth first)
Curry powder
Yoghurt or sour cream
Pineapple shredded
Lemon juice 1 tsp
Chilli powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Chive or green onions for garnishing

1. Cooked the chicken, let cool then shred them by hand. (The last part is very important because this is where the love in your recipe gets mixed in the dish)
2. Mix the mayonnaise, yoghurt and pineapple together with the shredded chicken to make a spreadable consistency. Add the curry powder one tablespoon at a time. Be careful not to overpower the taste.
3. Add the shredded pineapple, lemon juice and a good sprinkle of chilli powder, then a dash of salt and pepper. Adjust the taste.
4. Finally add chopped chives, green onions or parsley. You can also do this later when you make the sandwich.
5. Store in a tight container. Let cool overnight in the fridge.