Have you ever eaten something at a restaurant that you wanted to make at home, but there was a particular component you didn't know if you would get "right," so you kept putting it off? For me, it was this salad. I know, it seems silly that I have procrastinated making this for at least two years. When I was living in New Orleans (Metairie really, just outside of New Orleans), there was a coffee shop (Cafe Rani) where I would get this salad and the occasional pound of coffee. I loved pretty much everything I ever had there, but once I tried this salad, I was hooked! The only thing I didn't like is that they weren't big on sharing! I couldn't get them to tell me about the dressing they made for this salad, and when they switched from buying their coffees to roasting their own, they wouldn't tell me where they had been getting the Kahlua Kiss blend that I loved so much (especially with a shot of DiSaronno!).
I have been back to visit, but I left the area in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, so I'm not sure exactly when I last had this salad. I just couldn't hold out until my next visit. I finally had to break down and try it myself. What made me keep putting it off was the curry. I have eaten a number of curried dishes and enjoyed them all, but the first time I walked into an Indian restaurant and saw a display table out front with some 40 different curry blends, it blew my mind! When I see a recipe that calls for curry, that's all I can think of. With so many different blends, how do you know which you want to get the right result? It's like recipes that call for wine. It drives me crazy when it just says white or red. Not all wines taste the same, so could you be more specific for me?!? The response is always the same ... buy a wine you would want to drink. Thanks, but that still doesn't help me since I'm looking for a specific flavor! Some wines are dry, some are sweet or fruity, where others are more floral or earthy.
When it comes to curries, there are sweet curries, hot curries, and everything in between. The one I used, S&B Oriental Curry Powder, was hot, but not blow-the-top-of-your-head-off-hot like some. I was torn not only about the curry itself, but what kind of dressing it should be. I remember it as somewhat thick, with a color and texture that made me think it might have had some sort of jam in it, maybe apricot. We all really liked the one I made, so I'm not worried about theirs anymore! ;)
The ingredients listed below served 3 of us - LARGE dinner salads.
2 heads romaine, torn
baby mixed salad greens (about the same amount as the romaine)
1 c shredded carrots (or matchstick cut)
1 c shredded purple cabbage
3/4 c walnuts, rough chopped
2 c red seedless grapes (I prefer Dole when I can find them)
1/2 c raisins
1 lg crisp/sweet apple, diced with skins on (I used my fave - Macoun)
sliced cooked chicken
1/4 c sweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted
1/2 c plain yogurt
1 T S&B Oriental Curry Powder
1 t white balsamic vinegar
3 T milk
2 T sugar
I knew that I didn't want honey in the dressing, but if I had any Agave Nectar left, I would have used that rather than sugar. You definitely need some sort of sweetener to balance out the heat from the curry.
Toss together all of the fruits/veggies/nuts, cutting the apples last so they don't have a chance to discolor. Plate up a serving, top with sliced chicken, then dressing, then finish off with a sprinkle of coconut .
Aside from the sugar maybe, this if a very healthy dinner with a great variety of nutrients, colors, and textures. I'm glad I finally broke down and took a stab at using the curry! We'll be eating this for dinner on a regular basis now. :)