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Spicy Chicken Bhuna Salad

by Allegra McEvedy, Paul Merrett from Economy Gastronomy

Enjoy this quick, Indian-inspired salad for your next lunch or speedy supper. Flavoured with garam masala, paprika and chilli this bold salad makes for a tasty meal.

From the book

Allegra McEvedy, Paul Merrett


When you see the word ‘bhuna’ on an Indian menu it generally indicates that the dish has been dry-fried. Before this the meat is often marinated. The recipe below does have a fair few ingredients, but with a little planning it really doesn’t take all that much effort. The vinaigrette should be at the ready in your fridge at all times and the marinade can be assembled at least a day in advance (though not with the chicken in).

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4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into dice (about 8 pieces per breast)
1 courgette
1 fresh small coconut
vegetable oil
1 tsp garam masala
10 mint leaves, chopped
½ red onion, peeled and sliced into very fine rings
2 little gem lettuces, separated into leaves
8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
a few sprigs of coriander
4 cooked poppadoms
For the mustard vinaigrette:
3 tbsp vegetable oil
¾ tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
1 dsp caster sugar
1 dsp English mustard
salt and pepper
For the marinade:
6 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 lemon, juice
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely crushed
½ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground chilli
1 tsp ground cumin


Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Then add the diced chicken breasts and coat thoroughly with the marinade. Ideally they should have at least an hour in the marinade, so store them in the fridge.

Meanwhile, prepare all the bits for the salad, starting with the courgette. These can be sliced very finely and left raw, or pan-fried, or cooked on a ribbed grill pan. Whichever way you choose, they should have a slight crunch. Next crack the coconut in half by wrapping it in a cloth and giving it a sharp smack with a hammer. Remove the hard outer husk and then, using a potato peeler, take long strips from the flesh. Toast these under a hot grill until they are just beginning to brown, turning every minute or so.

Make the mustard vinaigrette. Place all the ingredients in a jam jar, put the lid on and shake well to create a tangy dressing which goes well with many salads. Adjust the amount of sugar and vinegar to suit your palate.

Just before serving, remove the chicken from the marinade and pan-fry it in batches in a little vegetable oil. Make sure the pan is hot and not overloaded with chicken – that way you will end up with nicely coloured pieces of chicken. As each batch cooks, finish it with a pinch of garam masala and a little chopped mint.

Arrange all the remaining salad bits in a large bowl, add the courgette, coconut, chicken and vinaigrette, then finish by breaking up the poppadoms and scattering them over the top for a bit of crunch.


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