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This isn't your grandma's curry chicken salad recipe

Meredith Deeds, Star Tribune on

Published in Variety Menu

Last year, fans all over the world broke out their tea sets and watched the coronation of King Charles III. But no Anglophile can live on tea alone. Scones, clotted cream and, in many cases, coronation chicken were served alongside that perfectly brewed pot of Earl Grey.

Coronation chicken is a version of chicken salad made with a curry and mango chutney dressing that's packed with dried fruit and sliced almonds. It first made an appearance at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, hence the name, and has since become a staple in the United Kingdom.

Over the years, curried chicken salad has gained popularity in the United States, thanks to the QE2, and every time I have it, I'm reminded of the chicken curry buffet, another British classic, that my grandmother used to serve when I was a kid.

Her curry was nothing like the vibrant curries that most of us enjoy. Grandma had a low tolerance for heat and exotic flavors, and her curry reflected those tastes. It was really just chicken in a creamy sauce with a bottle of curry powder waved over it.

The curry itself was not the star of the show, as far as I was concerned. It was all the toppings that she served alongside it. There were bowls loaded with chopped peanuts and cashews, grapes, toasted coconut and diced pineapple, all lined up and down the table like the queen's regiment.

Each diner could adorn their plate of chicken curry and rice with an assortment of toppings. As a child, I was giddy with power. If I wanted to turn my curry into a monument to toasted coconut and grapes, I could. If I was in the mood for peanuts and raisins, I could pile them on. No one was going to stop me from being the captain of my curry.

Any dish that inspires that much joy in a child deserves revisiting, which is what I've done with today's recipe for Curried Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps with Toppings.

Inspired by a combination of my grandma's chicken curry buffet and the queen's coronation chicken, these curried chicken lettuce wraps are served alongside a variety of toppings that add different flavors and textures to the wraps.

It's an impressive dish that's easy to put together. The chicken salad itself takes just moments, and the choice of toppings is entirely up to the cook. Perfect anytime of day, I love to serve this for lunch, dinner or even brunch, with or without the Earl Grey.

Curried Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps with Toppings

Serves 6 to 8.

Inspired by the old-fashioned chicken curry buffets so popular in the 1950s and '60s, this flavorful chicken salad is served with a variety of toppings on the side, which lets each diner customize their own lettuce wraps. From Meredith Deeds.

For the chicken salad:

• 3/4 c. mayonnaise

• 1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt

• 2 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1 tbsp. curry powder

• 1 tbsp. honey

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


• Pinch cayenne pepper

• 4 c. shredded cooked chicken

• Romaine or butter lettuce leaves, for serving

Topping suggestions, as desired:

• Chopped roasted cashews or peanuts

• Golden raisins

• Toasted coconut

• Chopped celery

• Halved grapes

• Cilantro leaves

• Chopped pineapple

• Thinly hot chile peppers

• Crispy onions

• Chutneys (Major Greys, mango, etc.)


In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, curry powder, honey, salt, pepper and cayenne. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Serve with lettuce leaves and toppings, as desired.


Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at . Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.

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