Mango Chicken Salad- Southern California Cuisine

Mango Chicken Salad

My Mango Chicken Salad is a showcase of global flavors. It’s seasoned with exotic spices and finished with toasted coconut and a sweet-and-sour Tamarind dressing. It’s easy to see the Latin and Asian influences in this simple combination.

However, as tropical as this salad seems to be, I think it’s more than just a fusion of culinary styles. I’d say it’s more accurate to call this combination the type of sophisticated urban food that perfectly reflects the way we eat in California. Despite its global inclinations, I prefer to think of this salad as California Cuisine. More specifically Southern California Cuisine. In fact, this salad tastes an awful lot like Los Angeles.

LA is a vibrant cultural center that boasts an eclectic food scene. New York and San Francisco may get a lot more recognition, but I think there’s no better culinary window on the world than right here in Southern California. I developed this Mango Chicken Salad to highlight the great diversity of my hometown.

What differentiates the Los Angeles food scene from many of the other great culinary cities is our eclectic embrace of divergent ethnic communities. Places like Koreatown, Thai Town and Little Armenia are all busting at the seams; each claiming boundaries the other culture equally embraces. Spreading these culinary influences across the shared geographic grid of the urban monster we all call home is what defines Southern California Cuisine.

Well, that and our Mediterranean climate, which is ideal for growing much of the produce that defines the way California eats. Our access to the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the world, also shapes the way we think about food in Los Angeles. Global influences on our culinary culture are further enhanced by the close proximity to one of the largest ports in the country. Giving our markets easy access to exotic produce, livestock and spices from around the world.

Mango Chicken Salad with Coconut and Tamarind

Of course you don’t have to live here to enjoy Southern California Cuisine. So I’ve included my recipe for Mango Chicken Salad with Coconut and Tamarind. I’m sure there’s a way to make this simple salad reflect the way you eat and where you live, too.


Note: Tamarind is a sour-tasting tropical fruit that grows in large brown pods. Many ethnic markets sell tamarind in jars as a prepared paste. You may also find it sold as pods. In which case you can easily make your own paste. However, if you prefer you can substitute the tamarind paste with extra lime juice and a splash of white vinegar in place of the water, then follow the Mango Chicken Salad recipe as written.

Mango Chicken Salad with Coconut and Tamarind

Mango Chicken Salad with Coconut and Tamarind 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4–6Source Inspired by The Lemonade CookbookPublished

How to Cut a Mango into Cubes:

A mango has one long, flat seed in the center of the fruit. Once you learn how to work around the seed, the rest is easy.

Stand the mango on a cutting board stem end down and hold. Place your knife about ¼” from the widest center line and cut down through the mango. Flip the mango around and repeat this cut on the other side. The resulting ovals of mango flesh are known as the “cheeks.” What’s left in the middle is mostly the mango seed.

Cut ½‑inch parallel slices into the mango flesh, being careful not to cut through the skin. Turn the mango cheek ¼ rotation and cut another set of ½‑inch parallel slices to make a grid pattern. Turn the scored mango cheek inside out by pushing the skin up from underneath. Slice mango chunks off close to the skin with a knife.

Chicken Mango Salad


  • 2 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning chicken)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (may substitute yogurt or sour cream)
  • 2 roasted large chicken breast halves (skin and bones removed and then cut into ½‑inch cubes)
  • 1 pinch granulated sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1 pinch ground cumin (or more to taste)
  • 1 pinch ground coriander (or more to taste)
  • 1 pinch paprika (or more to taste)
  • 1 pinch tumeric (or more to taste)
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 2 large, ripe but firm mangos (cut into ½‑inch cubes, see notes)
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (lightly toasted in a hot skillet)
  • ½ cup lossely packed fresh mint leaves
  • freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)


Prepare the dressing: Combine the tamarind paste, water, lime juice, honey, and oil in a small mixing bowl or mason jar; season with salt and pepper. Whisk or shake to blend. Add the mayonnaise and mix again to help bind the emulsion. Set aside, remixing just before using.

Prepare the salad: Place the chicken cubes in a large bowl, add one generous pinch each sugar, cumin, coriander, paprika, tumeric, salt and cayenne pepper; toss to coat the cubes evenly. Set aside at least 5 minutes to allow the spices to flavor the chicken, then add the mango and coconut.

Dress the salad with some of the prepared tamarind dressing to taste; toss gently. Garnish with whole mint leaves and season with black pepper; serve chilled.