It’s funny how your tastes develop and change over time. When I started college in Washington, D.C., one of the things I was so excited about what experiencing new cultures and their food. I remember hearing so many of friends and fellow students talking about how much they loved Indian food. I’d never even had it and could only recall even seeing Indian food a couple of times. Even though I was a somewhat adventurous eater, the sweet, spicy, pungent smell of the curry was overwhelming to me.
Eventually, several years after graduating, I saw a recipe for curried chicken salad. I’d always loved chicken salad, and with my confidence in the kitchen increasing, I thought I’d give it a shot. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. A few months later, though, that flavor came creeping back up on me and I decided to make it again. I was a fan. I began to seek out simple Indian recipes and eventually stumbled upon Bal Arneson’s no-butter chicken. I loved it then and I still love it now. You all do too, apparently; it’s one of the most popular recipes on this blog.
A little over a year ago, I went to London to visit a dear friend. You’d better believe I jumped at the chance to eat all the Indian food I could and my sweet friend knew exactly where to take me. While waiting in line for one of London’s Indian hot spots on a typically chilly, drizzly early spring evening, the restaurant sent out mini shooters of chai that warmed us through and through. Each rich, fragrant, mouthful comforted me and made me feel so at home, even in a city I’d never before visited.
This salad certainly isn’t the luxurious dal or buttery, garlicky dal I remember from London, but it is a healthier, brighter, lighter way to bring in some of the flavors and scents that will forever make me think of that perfect first trip. It comes together simply and quickly, can easily be vegan (just use agave in place of the honey), and makes for excellent lunches throughout the week.
London, I’ll be back. For now, I’ve got some home cooking to do.
Golden raisins and Madras curry powder make for a sweet, spicy, simple salad that makes perfect lunches and only gets better as the week goes on.
Curried Broccoli Couscous Salad
an Apple a Day original
For the salad:
1 c. Israeli (also called pearl) couscous
3/4 tsp. sea salt, divided
2 TBSP olive oil
1 small onion, cut into 1/2-in. strips
1 small bunch broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 (14.5-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. golden raisins
2-3 tsp. Madras curry powder
red pepper flakes, to taste
fresh spinach, chopped if desired
For the vinaigrette:
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1 TBSP dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey or agave
1. Bring 1 1/2 c. water to boil. Add 1/4 tsp. salt then stir in the couscous. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, covered. Remove lid, let stand 2 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Warm the oil and cook the onion and broccoli until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining salt. Add the chickpeas, raisins, desired amount of curry powder, and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook 2-3 minutes more.
3. When the couscous is done, pour into the pan with the broccoli mixture and stir to combine. Let cook 2 minutes more, adding up to 1/4 c. water if you feel the mixture is too dry.
4. To make the vinaigrette, put all ingredients into a jar. Tightly seal and shake to combine. Make salads by putting desired amount of spinach into individual bowls, topping with the couscous mixtures, and drizzling with dressing.
yield: 4 servings