Hi there. I’m not feeling particularly ambitious after making that elaborate cheesecake but I am still itching to cook with some exotic spices. But first, do you like funny stories? This one is mildly inappropriate but I’ll share it anyway. I used to work with a girl of Indian descent in one of my previous lives. Okay, so it was that previous life where a Sensory Cart had to roll around on the Alzheimer’s unit. Once in a while she would invite me over to her parents’ house for homemade Indian food. It was simultaneously frightening and spectacular to try all of these exciting new flavors: the curries, chutney, cardamom pods, chai teas, samosas… this list could go on and on, but that’s not the point of this story.
At said previous life, we used to run different types of programs and events to satisfy resident needs, one of which was called, At the Races. At the Races was a spoof on the horsey-race game that you see in casinos. The residents would place their bets on the plastic horses and roll the dice, and then one of the Recreation Therapists would run the horses around the track. This program was scheduled on a weekend when this young lady (I’ll call her Bollywood) was supposed to work. Bollywood was perusing the calendar for her upcoming weekend and exclaimed, “What the f*&k is: At the Races?” We all turned to her as she stood up and began to recite something that was not quite a rap, song, nor poem. For all intents and purposes, it was a ranting type of free verse:
“At the races? At the races. Black, white, red, brown, yellow, pink and purple. At the races? At the races. Black, White, Chinese, Japanese, Jamaican, African-American, Puerto Rican. At the races? So many colors. And people. And races. At the races. Indian, Native American, blue, green, orange, Asian, Samoan. At the races? At the races.” This very inclusive chant must have gone on for a solid three minutes before there was enough of a lull for this to happen:
“Bollywood,” said another co-worker of mine, “It’s a horse race.”
Silence. Then, “Oh.”
Later that day, we returned to our desks and found ‘surprises’ in our desk drawers and mailboxes. Apparently Bollywood had some time on her hands between programs and decided to hit the arts and crafts room. She cut out multi-colored bookmarks in the shape of penises in various sizes, with the words, “At the Races” emblazoned down each shaft. While Bollywood was generally a good worker and provided a lot of laughs on the job, I’m rather glad she was never assigned to be in charge of Art Therapy.
Below is something fun and delicious that you can whip up with leftover chicken. This chicken salad will break up a monotonous lunch routine and will kick up your average sandwich, wrap or salad. I’d like to preface that I prepared the chicken in a similar fashion (yogurt, lemon and Tandoori Spice) to this salmon recipe on Williams-Sonoma (minus the cucumber salad part). You do not have to prepare it this way. It will give the chicken a similar Indian flavor that will complement the chicken salad, but use what you like or what you have handy. You also do not have to use Williams-Sonoma spice blends. I just happen to love cooking with their spices and heck, you should use what you love too. Love the curry you’re with, or something like that.
Lady Sensory’s Bollywood Chicken Salad:
1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked leftover chicken breasts, chopped (I used three breasts; and they were on the smaller side. You can use any chicken meat – if you like thighs and drums and that’s what you have, go for it.)
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup chopped pistachios or almonds
1/3 cup mayonnaise (more or less depending on how much chicken you have handy and how wet or dry you like your salad)
1/2 tsp Madras Curry Powder (I used Williams Sonoma brand)
Light drizzle of honey
Salt and pepper to taste (you could add some cayenne or red pepper flakes if you like yours to have a kick)
Mix the curry with the mayo first, and combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Chill for a few hours to allow the spices and flavors to commingle. Serve on a nice crusty roll, in a wrap, or over a bed of crisp lettuce, mesclun or spinach. You really won’t need to dress the salad if you put it on greens. This has a lot of flavor (and enough fat from the mayo and nuts), so it’s not necessary. You could enjoy it with a cup of this soup. Additionally, if tomatoes are in season you could carve out the core and stuff one with the chicken salad. I suppose you could do the same with a bell pepper. Look at all the options I’ve given you. Why, you’ve got the whole world at your fingertips here…at the races….