Printed within the “winter” section of A Change of Appetite, Diana Henry’s quinoa, black lentil, mango, smoked chicken salad with korma dressing manages to balance a lot of strong flavors in one hearty salad bowl. There’s no explanation associating this recipe with the winter season, so I can only speculate that it’s because mangoes begin to come into season in January … and the hot curry in the korma dressing will heat you right up.
This is not going to be the simplest salad you’ve ever made at home. Diana’s recipe calls for a few things you might not ordinarily keep around the house, like creamy black lentils (urad dal), hot curry paste, smoked chicken, mangoes, watercress, and mint. Those make up about half the total ingredients in the salad (and more than half by weight). It takes a little work to assemble the components, making the quinoa and lentils separately, whisking the dressing, cutting the mango, smoking or otherwise prepping the protein.
The good news is there’s a little wiggle room. Virtually any protein can take the place of the smoked chicken. If you don’t want to commit to buying black lentils just for this salad, you can get away with using green lentils. It won’t be exactly the same creamy lentil texture, but it will still be an excellent salad. Similarly, the hot curry paste can be replaced with a Thai curry paste (red, green, or yellow; depending on your spice tolerance).
However, there are several key ingredients you cannot skip, like the mint and the watercress. The brightness from the mint and the bite of the watercress balance the creamy rich dressing and provide a necessary lightness the salad would otherwise lack.
In comparison with the another “winter salad” on my blog, this quinoa, black lentil, mango, smoked chicken salad with korma dressing is much heartier. It’s a healthier take on stick-to-your-ribs curry; you won’t be hungry for anything else after eating this.
Was this my favorite grain bowl ever? No. Was this a good, unusual grain bowl? Definitely.
Quinoa, black lentil, mango, smoked chicken salad with korma dressing
Recipe only slightly adapted from the original.
If you don't have smoked chicken, feel free to use regular poached or grilled chicken, smoked salmon, or for vegetarian options, smoked tofu or a few sliced avocados.
If you have leftover lentils or quinoa, this salad is even faster to whip up.
- 1 1/2 cups (250 g or 9 oz) black lentils
- 1 1/2 cups (250 g or 9 oz) cream-colored quinoa
- 1 just-ripe mango
- 1 cup (35 g or 1¼ oz) watercress leaves coarse stalks removed
- 3/4 pound (12 oz) smoked chicken skinned and neatly sliced
- 1/2 cup (10 g) mint leaves ¼oz, torn
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- juice of ½ lime
- juice of 1 lime
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar superfine if available
- 1 teaspoon fairly hot curry paste
- 3 tablespoons groundnut or rapeseed oil
- salt and pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt optional
Put the lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15–30 minutes, until the lentils are tender but not falling apart.
Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa under cold running water. Bring about 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Toast the rinsed quinoa in a dry skillet for about two minutes, until it becomes fragrant and nutty-smelling. Add the toasted quinoa to the boiling water, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Peel the mango, then cut off the cheeks (the fleshy section on each side of the central pit). Carefully (mangoes are slippery!), cut the cheeks into thin slices. Reserve the remaining mango flesh for another use as it's difficult to remove neatly (or use it knowing your salad won't be quite as photogenic).
Drain the lentils, rinse them quickly under hot water. Do the same with the quinoa. Add the lentils and quinoa to a large serving bowl, then toss with the mango, watercress, chicken, mint, olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning if necessary, this salad may need a bit more salad than you'd expect.
Whisk together all the dressing ingredients except the coconut cream (and yogurt, if using) with a fork. Whisk in the coconut cream. Taste for seasoning and heat, you may wish to add slightly more curry paste. Drizzle the creamy korma dressing over the salad just before serving.