Everyone needs a great curried chicken salad Recipe in their repertoire. This one is my favorite!
This curried chicken salad is tender and creamy. The exciting flavors come from the combination of warm curry spices mixed with tangy lime juice and sweet fruity chutney.
Scoop it onto a salad for lunch or make a sandwich and pack it up for a picnic. Any way you serve it, you are in for a treat!
Who invented curried chicken salad?
Where in the world did the recipe come from? In all my years of making curried chicken salad, I never asked these questions - until now.
Since starting Panning The Globe I've learned that there is usually way more to a recipe than just the ingredients and cooking technique. There's often a rich history or, at the very least, an interesting story that explains how a particular dish came to be.
With this recipe I was fully expecting to find an India connection because of the curry. I didn't expect the story to be about Queen Elizabeth's Coronation. They call it "Coronation Chicken...a recipe of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce."
Curried Chicken Salad was invented to feed the 350 foreign dignitaries attending Queen Elizabeth II's coronation luncheon on June 2,1953. Here's the original Coronation Chicken Recipe.
Chicken salad is the perfect make-ahead dish for entertaining, which is one of the reasons it was chosen for the Queen's luncheon.
As for the India connection, when the British were colonial rulers over India in the mid-1800's delicious Indian curry recipes made their way back to Britain with returning colonialists. But surprisingly, curry powder was not invented in India. It's a British invention.
Apparently British colonial cooks weren't too keen on going through the painstaking process of making the complex spice mixes. The curries used in Indian dishes were labor intensive, with upward of twenty different spices, specially selected and freshly toasted and ground, for a single recipe.
Another obstacle was that the fresh spices were expensive and hard to find in Britain. The solution was curry powder. A British company called C&B manufactured the world's first curry powder and cooking recipes with curry became a lot easier.
Which Curry Powder Is Best for Curried Chicken Salad?
- Curry powder is a mixture of spices and and can vary wildly.
- Many experienced cooks would agree that homemade curry powder, made with freshly toasted and ground spices, is superior to the stuff you buy in a jar. Yet I've chosen to use store-bought curry powder for this chicken salad, as was done for the curried chicken salad at Queen Elizabeth's luncheon.
- It's amazingly delicious this way - plus it's quick and easy.
- Madras Curry Powder is my favorite store-bought curry blend - it's rich, spicy and flavorful.
- If you want to make this dish with fresh homemade curry powder, check out Madhur Jaffrey's curry powder recipe.
How To Serve Curried Chicken Salad:
- In a sandwich or roll-up with lettuce and tomato
- Elegant crustless finger sandwiches
- On crackers or endive spears, as an appetizer or hors d'oeuvre
- Scooped onto a big bed of greens for lunch
- Or, as they did for the Queen, on an oblong plate, accompanied by a salad of rice, peas, diced raw cucumber and finely chopped mixed herbs, with French dressing.
If you love Chicken Salad, don't miss out on these delicious Panning The Globe Chicken Salad Recipes:
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Here's the Curried Chicken Salad Recipe. If you make this, I hope you'll come back to leave a comment and a star rating. I'd love to know what you think!Print
Curried Chicken Salad Recipe
Cold poached chicken in a tangy curried mayonnaise with lime juice and mango chutney.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Total Time: 40 mins
- Yield: 6-8 1x
- Category: Lunch, Brunch
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: English
- Curry Mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ yellow onion, finely chopped (¼ cup)
- 2 tablespoons curry powder (Madras, if you can find it)
- 1 cup mayonnaise (I recommend Hellman's)
- 2 tablespoons mango chutney or apricot preserves
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For The Poached Chicken (when you're in a hurry, skip this step and use 5 cups of shredded leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken)
- 2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 halves (about 2 pounds)
- ½ small onion, peeled
- 5 whole pepper corns
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- Poach the chicken Place breasts in a large deep pot. Add cold water to 1 inch above the chicken. Add onion, pepper corns, cloves and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Quickly lower to an extremely low simmer - no bubbling at all - and cook, uncovered, for 10-14 minutes. Check for doneness after ten minutes by slicing into the thickest piece to make sure there's no pink color. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cut into bite-size cubes or shred. Cool chicken in the fridge, covered, until you're ready to use it.
- Curried Mayonnaise While the chicken is poaching, heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft (don't let it brown) Add curry powder to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, until fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When curry and onions are cooled, mix with mayonnaise, chutney (or preserves), lime juice and salt in a small bowl. (can be stored, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Toss chicken with curried mayonnaise. Season with salt, to taste. (Curried chicken salad will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.)
Learn More About Poached Chicken: If you want to poach chicken thighs, bone-in breasts or even a whole chicken, you'll find all the details in this post on How to Make Perfect Poached Chicken.
Keywords: chicken salad, curried chicken salad, poached chicken with curried mayonnaise
[Originally published Oct 15, 2013. Updated June 4, 2018. Same delicious recipe with added nutritional information]