Indian-Spiced Chicken Salad
© William Meppem

Indian-Spiced Chicken Salad



  1. 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  3. 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  4. 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  5. 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek
  6. 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  7. 2 tablespoons tawny port
  8. 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  9. Pinch of ground turmeric
  10. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  11. 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
  12. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  13. 1 shallot, minced
  14. 1/4 pound green beans
  15. 8 cups torn Boston lettuce leaves
  16. 1 large, ripe red papaya (1 pound)—peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  17. 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  18. 1/3 cup roasted cashews, chopped
  1. In a small skillet, toast the whole spices over moderate heat for 1 minute. Let cool completely, then coarsely grind.
  2. In a large, shallow baking dish, mix 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of the ground spices with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the port, garlic, turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Add the chicken breasts and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Mix the remaining ground spices with the lemon juice, shallot and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the green beans for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Pat dry and cut into 2-inch lengths.
  5. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade; discard the garlic. Grill the chicken over moderately high heat until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Let rest for 5 minutes, then cut in to 1 1/2-inch chunks.
  6. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the papaya, tomatoes, green beans, chicken and the dressing. Sprinkle with the cashews and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Spices of any kind have a notoriously difficult relationship with wine. The fiery ones tend to deaden the palate, while the sweet ones can rob a wine of its fruit. Reds end up tasting too tannic and whites too acidic. The Indian–spiced chicken salad also poses the perennial problem of finding a wine that can stand up to the salad dressing; the acidity can strip the wine of its flavors. (A further challenge here is counterbalancing the sweetness of the papaya, port and cashews.) The solution? Make sure the wine you serve has fruit and richness to spare. Try a Viogner from Mendocino county, California or an Alsace Gewürztraminer.