Shortly after I started eating meat more regularly, I saw Ina Garten make curried chicken salad on an episode of her show, Barefoot Contessa. My immediate thought was that it looked good (and, duh, her food always looks amazing) and sounded different, but I didn’t immediately put it at the top of my “recipes to try” list, and here’s why.
I took a big pause at the idea of curry and chutney mixed together, really skeptical about how two strong-tasting ingredients like that would taste when mixed together. Also, I was never a big fan of traditional chicken salad. Growing up, my dad and I would go out for sandwiches for lunch on a regular basis. Whenever I ordered chicken salad from a nearby deli or restaurant, it often tasted bland and mushy, with tiny pieces of chicken and not enough crunch from celery and onion to make up for the amount of mayo put in the salad.
Knowing that Ina has rarely led me astray, I gave the recipe a try and was soon obsessed. For a while I made this salad at least once a week, without fail, to bring to work for lunch. It has a totally unexpected flavor on account of the chutney and curry, which do taste good together after all. It’s creamy without tasting like eating a spoonful of mayo, and super-crunchy from the celery and cashews, one of my favorite nuts.
Ina’s Curried Chicken Salad has become a pantry staple recipe; I keep the ingredients on-hand for whenever I’m in the mood to make a quick dinner or lunch for work. Using the original recipe as a guide, here are a few things that I like to adjust when I make it.