Circassian Chicken is relatively unknown to westerners - and it's a crying shame. This cold chicken salad is just amazing. Perfect any time of the year, piled on crusty bread - a triumph in every way.
Circassian Chicken originates in the Caucas region, near the Black Sea. Geographically, southern Russia and northern Turkey & Georgia. This is a classic dish to the region and is quite unlike anything I've tasted before. It comprises of tender poached chicken in a rich walnut based sauce.
A cold pate-like salad, perfect rain or shine.
It's served cold, like a salad where flatbreads are used to scoop the rich, hearty pate-like salad. I first ate this in Turkey, where there are a sizeable population of Circassians and was struck by its rich, creamy texture. It's super delicious, filling and quite unlike anything else I've ever taste. I made it immediately upon return and have been making it ever since.
It's actually not too difficult, but does take a little time. The results are spectacular. It's best served with some crusty bread or toast in my opinion. I also love to serve as part of a larger Meze spread for my guests to mix and match flavours and textures - try it together with my fabulous Turkish Beetroot & Yoghurt Dip, a simple Tomato Salad and my Turkish Carrot salad.
How to make my Circassian Chicken
To poach the chicken
To poach the chicken
- Combine chicken and all the poaching ingredients in a large pan and cover with 2 litres of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let the chicken sit for a further 20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, cover and cool completely. When cool, shred the chicken using a fork and reserve the meat.
- Strain the stock, skimming off any impurities that rose to the surface and set aside.
To make the walnut sauce
- Soak the bread in a little of the chicken stock and set aside.
- Heat the butter in a small pan over a low/medium heat and gently fry the onion, garlic, hot and sweet paprika for 10 minutes until soft. Set aside.
- Add the walnuts to a food processor and whiz until you have a fine consistency. Add the onion mixture and blend till you have a smooth texture. Squeeze the bread then crumble it into processor along with the salt, pepper and lemon juice. As the processor blends, gradually pour in about 1 cup of the reserved chicken cooking liquid until the sauce resembles a thick mayonnaise.
- Spoon into a large mixing bowl and thoroughly mix in the shredded chicken, yoghurt and coriander and parsley. Check for seasoning then chill in the fridge for at least an hour to develop the flavours.
- Remove from the fridge about an hour before you want to eat so that it comes up to room temperature. Serve with lots of fresh crusty bread, toasted.
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