When Summer hits its stride and it’s hot out I start yearning for cold dishes like ceviche, poke, tuna salads or chicken salads.
This time I was craving chicken salad but I really wanted a recipe without Mayo? Why? Who knows, maybe it’s because there’s too much awesomeness in my life already so why add mayonnaise and tempt fate?
Seriously, though, I wanted to cut calories and fat. Also, plain old chicken salad with a mayo base falls flat these days. I think it’s kinda boring.
Moving Beyond Old Fashioned Curry Chicken Salad
So with mayo-less in mind the first thing I thought was to blend a cold chicken dish with Asian flavors like curry. But that ancient tin of yellow curry that sits in the back of my spice cabinet was not going to cut it. For a hot summer day I want something with a larger hit of flavor that tastes fresh, not ancient.
So I decided to walk around the meager 1/4-aisle Asian section of my local supermarket and see if something would grab me. I needed something that could both replace the creaminess of mayo and add flavor.
A Simmer Sauce as a Base For Cold Dishes Like Chicken Salad
After examining offerings like canned or packet curries, which are usually salt bombs, I settled on an off-the-shelf sauce Indian butter chicken curry sauce because I wanted something that would be really quick to make for easy, nutritious lunches. You also could go with Thai, Chinese, Mexican whatever “simmer sauces” are hanging around.
It struck me as somewhat brilliant, as simmer sauces really do have all the spices and liquid you need to ramp up the flavor of chicken salad without having to concoct your own spice mix. I find making my own spice blends really fun, but it also yields inconsistent results until you’ve found a perfect blend. And then once you have the blend you’ll still need to add a dressing, such as Greek yoghurt or sour cream.
Curry Style Veggies Bring Texture and Flavor to Butter Chicken Curry Salad
The next thing I wanted to add was some veggies that I would normally add in a hot curry. I settled on onion, carrots, sweet red peppers, celery, and jalapenos. These give us crunch and add a lot of nutrition to the dish. These also would be very simple to dice.
Use a Day-Old Rotisserie Chicken to Save Money And Build Flavor
I walk over to the deli section of our local grocery store in the mornings and often find a day-old chicken sitting in a cold case. These are generally on sale for about $5-$7 and can yield 2 lbs of meat once it’s cleaned off the bones. They’re often well seasoned and quite a bit cheaper than the $6 tubs of pre-shredded chicken breast, which you also could get if you’re in a pinch for time. The one thing I would not get is canned chicken. It’s too watery and mushy for good chicken salad. Stay far away.
Preparing the Butter Curry Chicken Curry Salad
This is the really easy part. I did a 1/4-inch dice on the veggies and ended up with about a 1/2 cup of each.
I then shredded the chicken meat off the bone and ended up with about 4-5 cups of both white and dark meat. I discarded the skin and tossed the remaining bones in a bag in the freezer for use in stock that I will make as the temperate cools.
I mixed the chicken and veggies with some diced jalapeno (use as much or as little as you want to amp up the spice).
Finally, I started adding spoonsful of the butter curry sauce and tasted the salad as I mixed it. I found that after using about 1/2 of the jar I ended up with a moist chicken salad with plenty of flavor but still had a good creamy texture. The final step was to add salt and black pepper to taste. You also could add some other Indian spices such as garam masala, coriander, cumin, etc. I decided to keep it simple this time.
How Did the Butter Curry Chicken Salad Taste?
I really liked the flavor of this and the next time I make homemade curry stand nuclear tikka masala I’m going to reserve some sauce for a cold chicken salad. I made this with the rest of my family in mind so I didn’t add diced habanero or serrano chili’s to it, although that would really amp it up into territory I really like. You could also put a couple of dashes of cayenne pepper.
This literally took me less than 15 minutes to throw together and will give me 4-5 ample servings that I can dish out in a salad, on a bagel or in a wrap and I’d be perfectly happy with it!
Eat the chicken salad within a few days as it will degrade because of the salt and the veggies will get soggy and it will get watery.
Indian Butter Curry Chicken Salad Without Mayo
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Cutting Board
- ½ cup Onion, ¼-inch dice
- ½ cup Sweet Red or Yellow peppers, ¼-inch dice
- 1 stalk Celery, ¼-inch dice
- ½ cup Jalapeno, seeded, ¼-inch dice Leave in the seeds for more heat.
- 4 cups shredded chicken meat I use a whole day-old rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. I cool it, remove the skin and shred the meat off the bones with my hands.
- ½ jar 15 oz store bought indian butter chicken curry sauce. I used the brand Patak's for this recipe.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Dice the onion, sweet peppers, celery and jalapeno in a ¼-inch dice and add to mixing bowl.
- Take cooled day-old whole rotisserie chicken, remove skin and shred meat off the bones, being careful to remove any small bones or pieces of cartilage. Add to the mixing bowl.
- Discard the chicken skin and put the bones in a bag and freeze them for soups!
- Add half of the jar of butter chicken curry sauce to the bowl and stir to completely combine.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and combine again.
- Refrigerate for an hour or more.