Warm Garam Masala Chicken Salad with Naan Croutons

January 26, 2018
4 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

I came up with this dish when looking to satisfy a craving for Indian food while also trying to use up leftover chicken (many weekends, my husband roasts or smokes a whole bird to provide protein for the week). It’s based on Merrill’s Warm Chicken Salad, which features shredded chicken and tender potatoes crisped in a skillet and then strewn over crunchy Bibb lettuce with red wine vinaigrette.

With juicy red grapes, fresh spinach and herbs, chickpeas, chicken, and naan croutons toasted in garam masala, my updated version doesn’t disappoint; the big jumble of textures and flavors creates a salad that tastes far from leftover. We have to count out the crispy naan croutons in my house to make sure everyone gets an equal share.

Note: Day-old naan works best for croutons. If yours is fresh, tear it in half and lightly toast it first, to dry it out. For more information, read my full story here.

Test Kitchen Notes

Throughout the cold-weather season, we rely on pantry ingredients like dried herbs and spice blends to transport our kitchens to a warmer place. That's why we've partnered with The Spice Hunter, makers of a fragrant Garam Masala blend, to bring you this recipe. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the salad
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garam masala, such as The Spice Hunter's garam masala blend, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1 piece day-old naan bread (about 3 ounces), torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups loosely packed baby spinach, roughly chopped or torn
  • For the lemony vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. To make the lemony vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with a few pinches of salt and pepper. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil and keep whisking until emulsified. Adjust the seasoning and acidity to taste. (Alternatively, put all the ingredients in a small jar, put the lid on, and shake until emulsified.)
  2. In a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons vinaigrette and 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, stirring to dissolve. Add the torn naan, stirring to evenly coat with the vinaigrette and garam masala, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until crisp. Transfer croutons to a plate and wipe out (or rinse) the skillet.
  3. Return the skillet to medium heat and add 3 tablespoons vinaigrette and the remaining 2 teaspoons garam masala, stirring to dissolve. Add the chicken, chickpeas, and cilantro (or parsley) to the pan. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often, or until the chicken and chickpeas are warmed through; turn down the heat if the garam masala starts to burn. Taste and add salt and more garam masala, if desired. Remove skillet from heat. Let cool for a few minutes, then toss in the grapes, spinach, and a little more vinaigrette, if desired.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • frecklywench
  • Megan
  • EmilyC
  • Sylvia

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

8 Reviews

Sylvia August 22, 2023
Very good recipe for a hot, humid night. Added more fruit, spices, a little green onion.
Lisa L. August 7, 2020
I loved all the ingredients in this dish, but the recipe for me fell flat. I added salt, more garam masala, olive oil, lemon juice. Nothing could save this for me. There wasn’t enough seasoning in the dish. I think the GM mixed w/the vinaigrette for sautéing the croutons and then the chicken/chickpea combo didn’t work. And it def needed more grapes! I might try a riff on this using a sauté base of a neutral oil, minced shallot, ginger & garlic, cumin,coriander & turmeric
Sylvia July 2, 2019
This was a great recipe! Like everyone else we loved the croutons and I added more spinach than listed and would do so again.
frecklywench April 9, 2018
I had a great experience with this recipe too! Like Megan, I ended up mixing a little bit of extra vinaigrette, but other than that, everything worked perfectly as written, and we couldn't get enough of those naan croutons!
Megan March 8, 2018
A lovely way to use leftover chicken (and I usually hate the taste of reheated or cold poultry). I wanted a bit more dressing and may add a bit of minced shallot to the dressing next time. I also added a bit of chopped mango to mine. As dinner, my husband and I finished this off ourselves with no leftovers. Maybe we're piggies though. The croutons are amazing. Thanks EmilyC! You are a salad-whisperer.
EmilyC March 9, 2018
Hi Megan: so glad you made and liked this, and thanks for the kind words! Minced shallot would be nice in the dressing, and I love the idea of the chopped mango. And re: the number of servings, you're not piggies (haha)...my husband and I could finish this off by ourselves too! I updated the number of people it serves to 2 to 4. : )
Sherley K. March 2, 2018
Can you suggest a substitute for chickpeas? (I love them, but they don’t love me!)
EmilyC March 2, 2018
Sure, I think boiled potatoes cut into small chunks would be lovely here, per Merrill’s warm chicken salad (on the site!) which inspired mine! Please let me know if you give it a try!