My friend, Pam, served this yummy salad the other night when our birthday-dinner club met at her house for our first ever game night. After a few rounds of Bananagrams to warm up, we learned how to play Ticket to Ride - Europe. I'm a big word game fan so Bananagrams played to my strengths, but I especially enjoyed the challenge of Ticket to Ride, which involved some strategy to win. Game night was a hit!
The biggest hit, though, was the Curried Chicken, Rice and Artichoke Salad. A few versions of this recipe have been around for years, but this one had such a light curry flavor that I enjoyed it much more than others I've tasted. I think it must have been the Cambodian Lemongrass Curry Powder Pam used. The flavor was subtle at first, but with each bite there were delicate citrus notes blending with all the ingredients in a very pleasing way. Nothing overwhelming, as curry can sometimes be. There was just enough of it to make you say, "mmmm, that really tastes good" without exactly knowing why.
When I got Pam’s recipe, I was not familiar with Cambodian Lemongrass Curry Powder. A quick Google search showed it was available from Savory Spice Shop online and at these retail locations for their herbs and spices. The website listed it as a blend of "mild green chile powder, lemongrass, shallots, salt, garlic, onion, Lampong peppercorns, galangal root, ginger, Kaffir lime leaves, red Thai chilies and citric acid." Aha! Light, mild, citrus and bright flavors indeed! Love it!
Today I made the salad, with the curry powder I had on hand. I served it tonight for dinner with my class reunion committee. It was very good and everyone seemed to enjoy it, but to me it was not as good as Pam's. I need the curry powder she used! Who knew! Guess I'll be ordering my own jar from Savory Spice Store online -- asap! The citrusy curry flavor lingers on my mind and has my taste buds crying out for more.
Funny how one ingredient can change food flavors so distinctly and deliciously. Understandable though, since there are so many well known curry powder blends that define certain food cultures, even within the same countries or regions. It is not fair to say you don't like curry without sampling more than one, and I think I make it a point to become more familiar with the varieties offered at my local International Grocery.
File this one under Taste and Learn!
FYI - I only mention name brands when I feel like it makes a difference in flavor or performance in a recipe. I have no connections with Savory Spice Shop, nor have I received products or compensation from them for what I've written here. Same goes for Bananagrams and Ticket to Ride – Europe, just in case you wondered.
CAMBODIAN LEMONGRASS CURRY CHICKEN, ARTICHOKE & WILD RICE SALAD
8 chicken breasts, baked, cooled and sliced
2 small boxes of long grain and wild rice mix; cook according to package directions
2 large jars marinated artichoke hearts, sliced - add marinade to salad
1 bunch (6 or 7) green onions, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup stuffed olives, chopped
2 tsp. (or more!) curry powder*
1/2 c. +/- mayonnaise
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Start with a small amount of mayonnaise; add more as desired, but be sure not to obscure the other ingredients and flavors with a thick coating if it.
*Notes: Any curry powder you like will work, but I especially like the lighter flavor of Cambodian Lemongrass Curry, available from Savory Spice Shop online. Increase or decrease the amount used to suit your own taste.