When I heard about this month’s theme I couldn’t wait to submit a family recipe and share a part of my culture with you.
For as long as I can remember my Mother has made her Venezuelan chicken salad for special occasions like birthdays, Christmas and New Year celebrations. It is a Venezuelan tradition to serve this dish at celebrations and so many of my favourite family memories are intertwined with this recipe.
As teenagers, my sisters and I would help her peel and cut the vegetables. It can be a time intensive dish if you are making it from scratch, so as we’d work through the stages we’d chat and talk about life, our hopes and dreams and laugh- lots of laughter.
Growing up in Venezuela, my Mum ate the dish often. When she moved to England she had to tweak the recipe to get the same flavour she was used to, with ingredients available in the English shops. It’s amazing how just using a different type of mustard can affect the whole flavour of the salad.
My beautiful Mama with her Chicken Salad.
My Mum’s chicken salad is home to me. Every bite is full of memories- of family celebrations such as my small, intimate wedding, my children’s first Christmas and the Millennium New Year we spent in the Andes in Venezuela, surrounded by our cousins, aunts and uncles. It is a dish that brings people together, that can be shared with your neighbours and within communities.
I now live in the City, a few hours drive away from my Mum’s house. She’s usually the one to come down to visit us for special occasions, so once the kids are in bed we’ll both get to work, cooking and shredding the chicken and cutting the vegetables, catching up once more. I love these moments together and I’ll always cherish them. When we finish, it’s usually late, but the salad has our heart and soul in it. It’s our gift to the rest of the family.
Sometimes we’ll eat the Chicken Salad with Carrot Rice (recipe below) or we’ll make Arepas, another traditional dish made from a maize type corn. It can also be eaten on its own or with a big chunk of French bread. Delicious!
Venezuelan Chicken Salad with Carrot Rice
- 1 whole chicken – cooked & shredded
- 2 lb (1 kg) of cooked potato – diced
- ½ White cabbage- shredded thinly
- 1 cup (240 ml)of cooked or canned carrots – diced
- 2 cups (500 ml) of petite pois- drained
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) of black pepper
- Salt to taste.
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) of malt vinegar.
- 2 tsp (10 ml) of American Style mustard.
- 1 1/2 cup (360 ml) of mayonnaise.
- Boil the chicken until fully cooked but don’t let it overcook or it will be too dry.
- Peel off the skin and shred the cooked chicken into small pieces – best accomplished with your hands by breaking it apart.
- Cut the white cabbage into long thin strips.
- Put in bowl, then cover with the malt vinegar and boiling water to soften. After 5-10 minutes drain and put to one side.
- Boil the carrots and potatoes. Then once cooked through, roughly dice into 1cm cubes.
- In a big bowl and mix the chicken, diced potatoes, carrots, petit pois. Add the shredded cabbage.
- To make the dressing, mix the mustard, salt and pepper and mayonnaise into the bowl and gently combine until it is evenly distributed.
- Refrigerate until needed. Will last in the fridge for 1-2 days.
- 2 grated carrots
- 1 tbsp oil
- White Rice (enough per person).
- Heat the oil in the pan and toss in the grated carrot.
- Stir it around to coat the carrot in the oil.
- Put the rice in and stir again.
- Boil enough water to cover the rice. Once boiled pour it into the pan onto the carrot mixture.
- Bring to the boil. When the water starts to evaporate, turn off the heat (if using a ceramic plate oven) or turn down low if using a gas oven. Cover with a lid.
- Let the rice steam cook. Keep the lid on and the rice over a very low heat.
- Once cooked, serve with your chicken salad.