This recipe is a part of a series of recipes that I will be posting as an accompaniment to my newly launched podcast, Not Just Dhansak. On the podcast I chat to friends, fellow Bawas and Parsi entrepreneurs about all things bhonu and the recipes in these series are a result of the chats I have with them on the show. Check out the podcast here.
“The traditional Parsi cannot comprehend the idea of the salad which is not completely encased in Mayonnaise. If there’s no mayonnaise, it’s not a salad. ”
On the very first episode of my newly launched podcast, I spoke to archaeologist and food historian, Kurush Dalal. Many of you who read this blog may know him as the man behind Katy’s Kitchen and also the author of Eats, Feeds & Digs.
If it is Parsi food history you are after, Kurush is the person to speak to. And since, I wanted to start off my podcast talking about what Parsi food really is , he was the first person I reached out to. Luckily he agreed to come on the show and we had a gala time talking about the evolution of the cuisine and all the slightly ‘batty bawas’ we have come across in our time catering to the community.
Whenever I think of Kurush, the one dish that comes to my mind almost immediately is his Chicken & Pineapple “Salad”. My very first conversation him ever was when I was organising the catering for my engagement party. Back then I had just returned from New Zealand and since we were going for a ‘continental’ menu anyways, I suggested to Kurush that we would also like a salad.
There was a long silent pause after I said this. After that, Kurush said, “Ok sure, we will do something”.While I wanted to know what exactly he had planned, he refused to tell me and it was on my engagement party that I first had his Chicken and Pineapple ‘Salad’.
I say “salad” and I giggle because for most Parsis, if said salad has any speck of green and is not completely encased in mayonnaise then it is not a salad. Ofcourse, I hadn’t learned this back when I got engaged and it was lucky that Kurush served this because had he put up something green and leafy, my marriage plans may just have come to an abrupt end right there and then.
Consisting of chicken, home-made mayonnaise, pineapple and cheese, you could say that the only ‘salad’ component here is that it is served inside a pineapple. But, boy is it tasty! The added bonus is that you can still log it in your food log as a salad and your dietician need never know.
You can check out the full recipe for it below ofcourse but I’d also urge you to head to whatever app you use for your podcasts and also check out my brand new show, Not Just Dhansak. Alternatively, you can listen to it online here.
Chicken Pineapple Salad
Classic Mayonnaise Dressing
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Pinch of pepper
- Pinch of mustard powder
- 500 ml sunflower oil
- 300 gram boneless chicken (ideally leg or thigh)
- 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
- 1 tsp salt
For the Salad
- 250 gram pineapple (about half)
- 1 tsp thyme
- Pinch of chilli flakes
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 sprig spring onion (green only)
- 5 jalapeños
- 100 gram processed cheese, diced
- 6 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
- Salt, to taste
For the Mayonnaise
- Break two eggs. They must be fresh - this will impact the taste of your mayonnaise. Mix in the salt, sugar, pepper, mustard and apple cider vinegar.
- With a hand beater start beating the eggs. As you do this, add the oil in a slow steady stream until the eggs and oil starts to emulsify.
- Keep beating the mixture until all the oil is completely blended in and you have a smooth mayonnaise. Store it in the fridge in a clean bottle and use with your "salads" as you please.
For the Chicken
- Marinate the boneless chicken with ginger-garlic paste and salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. Later place on open flame with some water and allow it to boil until tender.
- Once the chicken is cooked, do not shred it. Instead, dice into small cubes. This helps the chicken to stay moist and not dry out.
For the Salad
- Cut the pineapple in half horizontally. Core it from the centre keeping the base intact. Traditionally, we use this to serve the salad though you may serve it in a platter as well if you wish.
- Cut half the pineapple (about 250gm) into cubes and set aside.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Lightly toss them in a pan with some oil until slightly bruised. Now gently sauce the chopped celery as well. Set both aside.
- In a mixing bowl, mix in all the salad ingredients namely the chicken, pineapple, thyme, chilli flakes, celery, spring onion, jalapeños and cheese.
- Once everything is combined, add in your mayonnaise (about half of what you made if you followed the proportions above). Keep in the fridge and allow this to chill for at least 1 - 2 hours.
- At the time of serving, check if the salad needs more mayonnaise in case the chicken has soaked it all up. Scoop the salad into the pineapple and garnish with the cherry tomatoes.
- Serve chilled along with steak, roast chicken or just about anything. This mix makes for a great sandwich filling the next day as well!