Papaya, red cabbage and crisp-crusted chicken wraps

by Dr. Hennie Fisher
Papaya Wrap

Chicken in a crust, such as the Colonel’s chicken, is something our South African nation along with much of the rest of the Western world cannot get enough of. American internet food pages abound with many versions; everyone believes their ‘marinate’ is the best, or their special blend of spices bears the closest resemblance to the real thing. What could be nicer than juicy chicken in a really tasty, crisp crust, piping hot and somewhat decadent. Combining it with papaya and red cabbage slaw in a wrap is a sure winner. For this recipe, the chicken is coated in a potato crisp crust, an idea from Leandi Archer, a recipe developer at The Food Design Agency in Johannesburg. To gain another insight into South Africans’ fascination with potato crisps, read the indomitable Anna Trapido’s anthropological investigation into our nations captivation with the crisp:

In this recipe, plain shop bought rotis are used as wraps, but be adventurous if you dare and place the same filling in a warmed-up pita, or in an Iranian lavash, all of which are readily available in South Africa today. The piping hot crispy chicken should not sit around – this is a meal that should be assembled at the speed of light, so that one has a nicely warmed up wrap, cold slaw, fresh papaya and herbs, all working together for an explosion of taste.

Ingredients for one large salad, enough for 4 to 6 people

For the coleslaw:

250 g very finely sliced (use a mandoline) red cabbage – all the hard ribs and stem parts removed
20 g salt
2 garlic cloves, finely minced (use the 3 ml salt in this part of the recipe to grind it into a fine paste)
3 ml salt
2,5 ml freshly ground black pepper
5 ml sugar
5 ml prepared mustard
½ lemon, zest and juice
50 ml very thick (preferably home-drained) plain full cream Greek yoghurt
50 ml very thick commercial mayonnaise

For the chicken:

4 to 6 medium or large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into to strips from top to bottom
50 g cake flour with 10 ml salt and 5 ml freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, well beaten
120 g potato crisps – any flavour could work, but perhaps keep it simple with salt and vinegar, smashed into small pieces in the packet
Oil for shallow frying

6 wraps (see note above) warmed
2 or 3 handfuls of herb leaves, such as large rocket leaves, or wild rocket, or a bitter lettuce such as radicchio
¼ to ½ a nice ripe papaya, cut into thick fingers lengthways


First drain the cabbage – mix the cabbage and salt together in a colander and let it stand for about half an hour to 45 minutes. The salt will draw out some of the moisture and soften it. After the draining period, rinse the cabbage well, and then drain it very well by pressing it between your hands to expel as much of the water as possible. Mix all the dressing ingredients together, and then mix the dressing with the cabbage. Set aside – this step may even be prepared a little ahead of time.
Crumb the chicken by dipping the chicken first into the seasoned flour, then the egg and lastly the crunched-up potato crisps. Fry them in fairly hot shallow oil. Drain on kitchen paper – keep warm.

When you are ready to make the wraps, warm the breads, spread a good dollop of coleslaw on, then papaya slices, herbs and lastly the chicken. Roll up tightly and serve immediately.