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Tandoori Chicken Salad
Tandoori Chicken Salad

Monica Pope has a real knack for reinventing chicken salad. At her new Houston hangout, Sparrow Bar + Cookshop, she reworks the lunchtime favorite each week, using local ingredients and global dishes as her inspiration. For this tandoori chicken salad, Pope relies on a spice-laced yogurt marinade to deliver tender chicken that's subtly spicy. Cooling cucumbers, red onions and lentils contribute varying textures to a dish that you can serve to weekend lunch guests with exotic taste.

Makes 6 servings (plus about cup dressing)

Tandoori Chicken Salad

1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt

4 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1 head Bibb lettuce

½ English cucumber, peeled and sliced into half moons

½ medium red onion, thinly sliced

½ cup cooked lentils

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons roughly chopped pistachios

16 dried apricots, roughly chopped

Thinly sliced mint leaves, for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper


Lemon-Yogurt Dressing

Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)

½ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Make the salad: In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with 2 tablespoons of the canola oil, the garam masala, garlic, ginger, salt, turmeric and red-pepper flakes. Using a meat hammer or small saucepan, pound the chicken to ½-inch thickness. Arrange the chicken in a shallow dish, add the marinade and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

2. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the yogurt and garlic until combined. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 350˚. In a medium skillet set over high heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Add the chicken and cook until brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven; bake for 8 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred or cut into small cubes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

4. Meanwhile, remove the core from the lettuce and break the head apart into individual leaves to form cups. Arrange the leaves in a bowl or divide among six plates.

5. In a large bowl, combine the cucumber with the red onion, lentils and chicken. Toss with the reserved dressing to taste. (Reserve any remaining dressing for another use.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the chicken salad among the lettuce cups. Garnish with the pistachios, apricots and mint, then serve.

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