Bajan Chicken Salad

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • A Totally Tropical Supper for

    2

Appears in

Sometimes a shopkeeper has to go to great lengths to get proper time off, to get their little emporium covered. Mr Shopkeeper and I decided we really needed a holiday, but the only way that we could bully the stand-in to, well, stand in for us was to come up with something truly dramatic. Which is how we ended up getting married, for who can deny a couple’s right to have a pukka honeymoon? This is a roundabout way of explaining how we came to fall a little bit in love with Barbados.

Bajan food is a beguiling mix of Africa and India and the Caribbean. This recipe is a similar jumble – of all the lovely flavours that we sampled on our trip.

Ingredients

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (or use green for less heat)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • juice and grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • salt

For the Salad Bit

  • 75 g/ oz. scant ½ cup dried gungo peas* (or 1 can/400 g/14 oz., soaked for 6 hours
  • 1 small jicama** or white radish (daikon), peeled and diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 mango, carefully peeled and diced
  • big handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • dash of hot pepper sauce
  • salt

Method

Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips of 5cm/2in in length. Mix the garlic, spices, chilli, oregano, lime juice and zest and oil together in a bowl. Add a little salt and toss the chicken strips in, turning them over so they become well coated in marinade. Cover and leave in the fridge for an hour or so (or marinate for just 30 minutes at room temperature).

Meanwhile, drain the soaked beans, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer in unsalted water for about 45 minutes, or until cooked without being mushy. Drain and allow to cool.

When you are ready-ish to assemble your salad, preheat the grill. Shake the chicken so that any surplus marinade slides off, then grill the strips for around 6 minutes, turning once or twice. Keep warmish.

Mix the peas with the jicama, onion and mango, then stir the herbs through the mix. Next, use a sharp knife to remove the skin and pith from half of the lime. Discard any pips and chop the rest of the flesh into the salad (if you don’t like things too sharp, you can omit this bit and just use the juice in the dressing instead).

Squeeze the other half of the lime into a bowl, and whisk in the olive oil, pepper sauce and salt to taste, before trickling it over the beans. Serve the still-warm chicken on top. Steamed white rice or some good bread would render this dinner rather than supper.

* Gungo Peas

Also known as pigeon peas, these tasty pulses are a feature of Caribbean cuisine. All beans make me happy, but pigeon peas are particularly full of tryptophan, which is a mildly mood-enhancing amino acid. If you can’t source them, black beans also work well in this recipe.

** Hmm. Jicama

This is such a commonplace vegetable in half of the world, especially Central America, where they pop up in all sorts of recipes. Unfortunately, Europe is in the other half of the world. I have only ever seen this turnip-like veg in Asian greengrocers over here. White radish or regular radishes make acceptable subs.
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