This lovely combination of cold chicken and vegetables dressed in a spicy yoghurt mayonnaise and served with hot rice, makes a perfect light but spicy dish for a warm summer evening. We enjoyed it so much I took the recipe on holiday with me, along with some tomato relish plus little packet containing the spices I needed and then made it in our holiday caravan in the French alps. (I am always looking for straightforward and quick to prepare holiday recipes, after all it’s my break too!) The finished dish looks very pretty and would be an attractive addition for a buffet, perhaps as an alternative to the much sweeter Coronation Chicken. A small portion, perhaps on a bed of lettuce with little or no rice, would make a delicious starter.
Update 6.2.11: I made this recipe as part of a buffet in a quantity that would serve 50 people.
The recipe came from one of my favourite cookbooks and probably one of my best charity shop finds: Hot & Spicy Cooking: Exciting Ideas for Delicious Meals with recipes by Judith Ferguson, Lalita Ahmed and Carolyn Garner. Ideally this would be a good use for cold meat left over from a roast. As I had none I gently pre-cooked some lightly seasoned chicken thighs in a small saucepan along with a little olive oil and some finely chopped onion, allowed them to cool and removed the flesh in strips. This was then used to finish the recipe. One ingredient that I dispensed with was onion purée. I certainly was not going to buy a ready made version, if I could find some, as it would be so easy to make myself, but it was rather a lot of work for such a small amount. In the end I simply gently cooked half a finely chopped small onion in the microwave. On subsequent occasions I have used a good tablespoon of my own home made Spicy Tomato Relish in place of the onion, tomato puree, chilli powder and cayenne pepper, just adding the paprika. The relish includes a little apple and sugar, making it slightly sweeter, but it was enjoyed by all and I will make it this way in future. If using tomato relish in the recipe chilli and cayenne can still be added to taste for lovers of spicy food but less will be needed than in the original recipe. In my version I have also adjusted the proportions of other ingredients, including doubling the quantity of sweetcorn and adding an extra pepper in a different colour.
Mexican Style Chicken Salad
450g/1lb poached chicken, breast or meat from thighs, cut into small pieces
140ml/¼pint mayonnaise (more if you wish) – not salad cream
140ml/¼pint natural yoghurt (more if you wish)
3 medium peppers, seeded & finely sliced: suggest one each red, orange & green
½ x 325g tin sweetcorn, drained (but more if you wish)
a little paprika to garnish
1tbsp Spicy Tomato Relish
1tsp chilli powder
pinch cayenne pepper
½tsp tomato purée
1tsp onion purée
1. a.If using the chicken thighs lightly season them and gently cook in a small saucepan with a little olive oil and some finely chopped onion. When cooked thoroughly, leave to cool, remove the flesh in strips. Drain and reserve any cooking liquid, which can be cooled and frozen to use as stock. Set aside the drained onion unless using tomato relish, in which case it can be kept with the stock if you wish.
b. If using cold leftover chicken cut it into strips, checking for and removing any gristle.
2. Deseed the peppers and cut into small strips, a similar size to the strips of chicken.
3. Open and drain the sweetcorn.
4. Mix together the yoghurt and mayonnaise. Stir in either the tomato and onion purées (or onion cooked with the chicken or some onion chopped and gently cooked until transparent) along with the chilli powder and cayenne pepper or the tomato relish, which already contains spices. (If using tomato relish a little additional chilli powder and/or cayenne pepper can be added, according to taste.)
5. Mix in the sweetcorn, peppers and chicken and stir well. Chill before serving with warm long grain rice, lightly sprinkled with paprika. Alternatively serve on a small bed of lettuce leaves.