This salad was inspired by dishes and flavors of India.
I started with the idea of using tandoori chicken for the salad. Indian food includes so many great vegetable dishes, which I looked to as a complement to the chicken. Gobi aloo–cauliflower and potatoes–is a very common dish which I have made. I thought the cauliflower prepared that way might go well. (I didn’t want the potatoes on the salad.) And the dressing is a vinaigrette seasoned with garam masala, the common Indian spice mix.
For the tandoori chicken, I strongly encourage using the boneless skinless thighs. I think their more robust flavor works better here than chicken breasts. I used the tandoori spice mixture from Penzey’s spices, but you could certainly make your own mixture of spices. Just google tandoori spice for ideas (which vary greatly from recipe to recipe).
Garam masala is another spice mixture and is commonly used in South Asian cuisine. Once again, you could make your own, but this is more widely available and certainly worth the effort to try to find it if you plan on making even a few Indian dishes.
When I had the idea for the salad, I was confident that the various elements would be good, as I had made the tandoori chicken and the gobi aloo before. But I wasn’t sure how well they would work together as a salad. I really liked the result and will definitely be making it again.
1 or 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs (depending on size, appetite)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon tandoori spice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1–1/2 cups cauliflower in bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 heaping teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 heaping teaspoon ginger paste
1/8 heaping teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 heaping teaspoon paprika
1/4 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 heaping teaspoon garam masala
lettuce (I used a combination of spring mix and baby spinach)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 clove garlic, pressed (or less if large clove)
fresh ground pepper
Mix yogurt, tandoori spice, and lemon juice in a plastic bag. Add the chicken thighs and mix together. Marinate 4 to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken thighs on rack in a baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes (but check earlier if thighs are small and thin) until they reach an internal temperature of 160–165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Turn on the broiler and place the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes to further brown the tops.
After taking the chicken breasts out of the oven (you want to give them time to rest), start the cauliflower. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger and cook for about a minute. Add the cauliflower and turn the heat down to low. Sprinkle all over the cauliflower the mixture of the tumeric, paprika, ground cumin, and garam masala. Cover the pan and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning over once or twice, until the cauliflower is just starting to soften. (You still want to retain some of its crispness for the salad.)
Place the cauliflower on the lettuce. Whisk or shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, garam masala, garlic, and fresh ground pepper. Pour over the salad. Slice the chicken thighs and place in the middle of the salad.