Dukkah Chicken and Mango Salad

Top with onion, feta and nuts

One of the best things about summer is all the wonderful fresh fruit that’s available. Visiting any farmers’ market or even the fresh produce section of the supermarket is a feast for all the senses!

This recipe is a combination of two of my favourite flavours – mango and dukkah – yum, yum!! And you’ll notice that the quantities are deliberately vague so you can up-size or down-size as you please.

Mangoes galore

Mango is fantastically versatile and can be served just about any which way: with Greek yoghurt and toasted sunflower seeds; blended into a smoothie with a banana, ginger and mint, or the same mixture frozen and made into ice-cream; used in savoury dishes with meat; or as part of a salad, as we’re doing here. The variations are endless! Since they’re in season and getting cheaper by the day (if you live in South Africa, anyway), now’s a great time to experiment.

The thing with mangoes (and avocados too, by the way) is that you can’t really buy them ripe – you’ve got to think ahead. Or just buy them when you see them and then decide what you’re going to do with them afterwards, which is what I generally do. Then you just have to hope that they ripen before they start going black, which will all depend on how they were treated before you got your hands on them. If that does happen, you can often still save some of the rest of the mango and use it in smoothies, etc.

When you’re buying, look for the string-less variety if you can find them. Although some strings are still almost inevitable, more flesh and less string definitely makes for a much more pleasant eating experience.

Then dukkah! I discovered this wonderful concoction of flavours at a food show in London when I was living there several years ago, and immediately fell in love with it. Traditionally made with hazelnuts, I’ve made it with a variety of different nuts and mixtures thereof with perfect success. Another traditional ingredient is sesame seeds, and I’ve added sunflower seeds, which are not traditional at all.

To that base, you can add a variety of spices, again traditionally coriander and cumin, and I’ve added cardamom (another flavour I love) and some dried orange peel, since I had some on hand, plus some salt and a touch of sugar (or something like stevia if you’re avoiding sugar). Then you simply stick it in a grinder or good blender and whizz it all up until it’s as coarse or fine as you like. Whatever’s left over after this recipe, you can save and use for something else.

Feel free to experiment with the spices, increasing or reducing quantities, and adding or removing ingredients to your taste. You need the nuts as a base, but beyond that, you can experiment with the flavour combinations as you choose. If you don’t have sunflower seeds, leave them out, add more coriander and no cardamom – whatever.

And if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making it yourself (which isn’t much trouble at all really, provided you have the basic ingredients on hand), I recommend buying NoMU dukkah, which is available at many supermarkets.

What else can you do with dukkah? So much! One of the easiest and most traditional ways to eat it is to dip some good bread in olive oil then in dukkah and have that as a snack or with a drink. Or dip crudités of any description, or apple slices (or any other fruit). Or coat veggies, meat, chicken or fish with it before you cook them. Or sprinkle it on soup, pasta, salad, eggs, cream cheese, ice-cream or other desserts. Or just eat it straight up with a spoon.

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Ingredients

  • Boneless chicken breasts – 1 breast per person
  • Dukkah – bought or home-made (see recipe below)
  • 2T coconut oil
  • Mango (or peach), peeled and cut up – 1 per 2 or 3 people
  • A mixture of salad leaves and herbs
  • ½c pecan nuts – whole or pieces
  • Cucumber, cut into slices then halved
  • Red onion, cut into fine rings
  • Feta
  • Honey
  • Mustard – I like country mustard with seeds, but you can use any mustard of your choice
  • Lemon juice or white wine/cider vinegar
  • Olive oil

For the Dukkah:

  • ½c nuts – hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts or a mixture
  • ¼c sunflower seeds
  • ¼c sesame seeds
  • 1T whole coriander seeds
  • ½T whole cumin seeds
  • 8 – 10 cardamom pods (optional), seeds only (remove the husks by bashing the pod)
  • ½t sugar (or something like stevia to give the equivalent sweetness)
  • ½t sea or Himalayan salt
  • ½t lemon or orange zest or dried peel (optional)

Method

If you’re making your own dukkah, do that first. Simply put all the ingredients into a grinder or use a good blender and whizz until you get the texture you prefer – I like mine quite coarse. Taste and adjust salt, sugar, etc to your liking.

Dukkah ingredients in grinder

Dukkah ready to use

Place the pecan nuts for the salad in a dry frying pan and warm over low heat, shaking the pan often so the nuts don’t burn.

Dry-frying pecans

When they are slightly toasted – just starting to brown – remove from heat and allow to cool. You can also bake them in the oven on low, watching very carefully as they go from toasted to burnt in about a minute.

Cut up the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.

Cut up chicken breasts

Pour some dukkah into a bowl and roll the chicken pieces in it so they are completely covered.

Coat chicken pieces in dukkah

Heat some coconut or olive oil in the pan, and on medium heat, sauté the chicken pieces until they are cooked through (cut one open to check). You will need to keep stirring more or less constantly as the nuts in the dukkah burn quite easily.

Cooking chicken

Cut a piece of chicken in half to check it's cooked

Set aside to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, put some honey and mustard, quantities depending on how strong the mustard is and how sweet you like your dressing. Add a tablespoon or so of lemon juice or vinegar and stir well until the honey and mustard dissolve (except for the whole seeds obviously). Then add about 3T of olive oil and mix well.

Prepare salad dressing

Mix dressing well

Wash and prepare your salad leaves and herbs.

Leaves and herbs from the garden

Arrange them on a plate or in a bowl, and layer on the cucumber and chicken pieces.

Layer salad leaves, cucumber and chicken

Top with mango, feta, onion and finally nuts.

Add mango

Top with onion, feta and nuts

Stir the dressing well to mix before pouring over. Toss and serve immediately.

 

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© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2015

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