This blend of spices is one of my favorites and I love incorporating it in different ways. I made this spiced chicken salad one day and ended up using dates because I was out of raisins, and the result was amazing! For fun, I wanted to incorporate dates in a second way in this recipe, so I use them to add some sweetness to the marinade as well. Honey could be used as an alternative. Additionally, the vegetables are just my preference for chicken salads, but the possibilities are endless! —Tricia
Cardamom pods, removed from shells
whole cumin seeds
whole coriander seeds
whole fennel seeds
whole mustard seeds
dried medjool dates, pitted and soaked in boiling water for a few minutes
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast whole spices (cardamom, cumin seed, coriander seed, fennel seed, mustard seeds, black peppercorns) until fragrant; allow to cool. Coarsely grind spices in a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder.
Add soaked dates, coconut milk, ginger, and lemon juice to a blender and blend until smooth. Add toasted spices, turmeric powder, chili flakes, and salt and blend for a few more seconds. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the marinade and store in the fridge for later use in the dressing.
Combine chicken thighs and remaining marinade in a large bowl, ensuring they are fully submerged. Place plastic wrap directly on chicken and allow to marinate in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.
Remove the chicken from marinade, shaking off the excess. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken for 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then cut into 1 inch chunks. Place the chicken in a covered bowl until thoroughly chilled.
Make the dressing while chicken is cooling. Whisk together reserved marinade, yogurt, and mayonnaise. Add fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Note: You could easily use more mayonnaise instead of the yogurt to make the recipe dairy-free.
Assemble the salad. Combine the chicken, dressing, carrots, scallions, celery, parsley, dates, and pistachios in a large bowl. Note: the pistachios will lose their crunch when refrigerated so wait to add them if you are not serving the salad right away.