What does Divan mean in a recipe?

What does Divan mean in a recipe? Cooking terms can sometimes be a bit mysterious, especially when they have historical roots or are borrowed from other languages. One such term is Divan, which you might come across in recipes. But what exactly does it mean? In this article, we’ll unravel the meaning of Divan in a recipe, explore its origins, and look at both classic and modern takes on this delightful dish.

A Divan typically refers to a casserole dish featuring a protein, usually chicken, with broccoli and a creamy sauce. It’s a dish that exudes comfort and is perfect for family dinners. The name itself carries a certain elegance and history, making it more than just a simple casserole.

What does Divan mean in a recipe?

Divan has an interesting history that dates back to the early 20th century. It originally referred to a luxurious, comfortable couch or seating area in a room designed for relaxation and conversation. The term was then adopted by the culinary world, particularly in American cuisine, to denote a dish that offered the same comfort and luxury in a culinary form.

The most famous of these dishes is the Chicken Divan, which was first created at the Divan Parisien Restaurant in the New York City Chatham Hotel. This dish quickly became popular due to its rich flavors and comforting nature, making it a staple in many households.

Traditional Divan Recipes

Classic Chicken Divan Recipe

A classic Chicken Divan is made with chicken breasts, broccoli, and a creamy sauce, often incorporating cheese and a hint of curry powder for an extra kick. Here’s a simple yet delicious way to prepare this classic dish:


  • Chicken breasts, cooked and diced
  • Fresh broccoli, steamed
  • Cream of chicken soup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lemon juice
  • Curry powder
  • Shredded cheese
  • Bread crumbs (for topping)

Preparation Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Arrange the cooked chicken and steamed broccoli in a baking dish.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the cream of chicken soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and curry powder.
  4. Pour this mixture over the chicken and broccoli.
  5. Sprinkle shredded cheese and bread crumbs on top.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly.

The classic Chicken Divan remains a beloved dish for its creamy texture and savory flavors, perfect for a hearty family meal.

Variations of Divan Recipes

While the traditional Chicken Divan is widely loved, there are numerous variations to suit different tastes and dietary preferences. For example, a Turkey Divan can be made using leftover turkey, which is especially popular around Thanksgiving. Vegetarians can enjoy a Vegetarian Divan by substituting the chicken with tofu or extra broccoli and other vegetables.

Regional adaptations also exist, incorporating local ingredients and spices to give the Divan a unique twist. These variations show the versatility of the Divan concept, making it adaptable to various culinary traditions.

Modern Interpretations of Divan

In today’s culinary world, chefs are constantly reinventing traditional dishes, and the Divan is no exception. Modern twists on the classic recipe might include healthier ingredients or gourmet touches that elevate the dish to new heights. For instance, using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise or adding quinoa for a protein boost can make the dish healthier without sacrificing flavor.

Gourmet versions of Divan dishes often feature high-quality ingredients and sophisticated presentation. Chefs might use artisanal cheeses, fresh herbs, and organic vegetables to create a dish that’s not only delicious but also visually stunning.

Cooking Techniques for Divan

Key Cooking Techniques

To make the perfect Divan dish, mastering a few key cooking techniques is essential. These include proper steaming of the broccoli to retain its vibrant color and crisp-tender texture, as well as making a smooth, creamy sauce that coats the ingredients evenly.

Tips for Success:

  • Ensure your broccoli is not overcooked; it should be slightly crisp to complement the creamy sauce.
  • When making the sauce, mix ingredients thoroughly to avoid lumps and achieve a silky consistency.
  • Baking the dish until the top is golden ensures a delicious, crunchy texture that contrasts with the creamy filling.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Even with a straightforward dish like Divan, there are common pitfalls to watch out for. Overcooking the chicken or broccoli can lead to a mushy texture, while an under-seasoned sauce can result in a bland dish.

Troubleshooting Tips:

  • If your sauce is too thick, add a splash of milk or chicken broth to thin it out.
  • If the dish tastes bland, try adding a bit more curry powder or fresh herbs to enhance the flavor.


Historical Background

What does Divan mean in a recipe? Understanding the historical background of the Divan dish adds a layer of appreciation to its preparation and enjoyment. The term Divan originally referred to an elegant, comfortable sofa or a council chamber in Middle Eastern cultures. However, its culinary adaptation has a fascinating origin.

Origin of the Term Divan

The culinary use of the term Divan can be traced back to the early 20th century. It was popularized in the United States by the Chatham Hotel’s Divan Parisien Restaurant in New York City. Here, the chefs created a dish named Chicken Divan that became famous for its rich, creamy texture and luxurious flavors. This dish was designed to offer the same comfort and indulgence as a luxurious sofa, hence the name.

The classic Chicken Divan was a sophisticated dish served in the restaurant, featuring poached chicken breasts, broccoli spears, and a creamy Mornay sauce (a béchamel sauce with shredded or grated cheese). The dish was not only delicious but also visually appealing, often topped with almonds and baked until golden brown.

Initial Use in Recipes and Culinary History

The original Chicken Divan recipe was a testament to the luxurious dining experiences of the time. Its popularity grew as it was featured in cookbooks and shared among home cooks. The combination of chicken, broccoli, and a creamy sauce quickly became a favorite in American households.

Over the years, the recipe has evolved, with variations and adaptations appearing in different regions and culinary styles. Despite these changes, the essence of the Divan dish—a comforting, creamy casserole—remains the same.

Cultural Significance

The Divan dish also holds cultural significance as it represents the American adaptation of French culinary techniques. The use of Mornay sauce, a classic French sauce, in the Chicken Divan highlights the fusion of French and American cuisines. This blending of culinary traditions is a hallmark of American cooking, where international influences are embraced and adapted.

Traditional Divan Recipes

Exploring traditional Divan recipes allows us to appreciate the dish’s versatility and enduring appeal. The classic Chicken Divan remains a favorite, but there are many variations that cater to different tastes and dietary preferences.

Classic Chicken Divan Recipe

The classic Chicken Divan recipe is beloved for its simplicity and rich flavor. Here’s how you can prepare this comforting dish at home:


  • 4 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli, steamed
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preparation Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Arrange the cooked chicken and steamed broccoli in a greased baking dish.
  3. In a bowl, mix the cream of chicken soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and curry powder until well combined.
  4. Pour the mixture over the chicken and broccoli, ensuring even coverage.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the top, followed by the bread crumbs.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the dish is bubbly.

Variations of Divan Recipes

While the classic Chicken Divan is a staple, there are numerous variations that offer new flavors and accommodate different dietary needs:

Turkey Divan: Substitute turkey for chicken, perfect for using up Thanksgiving leftovers. Vegetarian Divan: Replace the meat with tofu or a variety of vegetables like cauliflower and carrots. Seafood Divan: Use seafood such as shrimp or crab for a luxurious twist.

Each of these variations retains the essence of the Divan—creamy, comforting, and delicious—while offering something unique.

Regional Adaptations and Influences

Different regions have put their spin on the Divan recipe, incorporating local ingredients and flavors. For instance, in the Southern United States, you might find a Divan with added spices and served with cornbread. In the Midwest, the dish might include a variety of cheeses and be paired with a fresh salad.

These regional adaptations highlight the versatility of the Divan dish and its ability to adapt to different culinary traditions.

By understanding the historical background and exploring traditional recipes, we gain a deeper appreciation for the Divan dish. Whether sticking to the classic recipe or experimenting with variations, the Divan remains a comforting and versatile addition to any meal.

What Does Divan Mean in a Recipe?

Cooking Techniques for Divan

Mastering the perfect Divan dish involves understanding a few key cooking techniques. These methods ensure that the dish not only tastes great but also looks appealing and has the right texture.

Key Cooking Techniques

To make the perfect Divan dish, it’s essential to get a few techniques right. These include properly steaming the broccoli, preparing a smooth sauce, and achieving a golden, bubbly top.

Steaming Broccoli:

  • Steaming broccoli correctly is crucial to maintain its vibrant color and crisp-tender texture.
  • Tip: Steam the broccoli just until it’s tender but still bright green. Overcooking can lead to mushy broccoli that won’t hold up well in the casserole.

Making a Creamy Sauce:

  • The sauce is the heart of the Divan dish, providing its signature creamy texture and rich flavor.
  • Tip: When making the sauce, ensure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed to avoid lumps. For a smoother sauce, you can whisk the ingredients together until well combined.

Baking to Perfection:

  • Baking the Divan until the top is golden brown adds a delicious, crunchy texture that contrasts with the creamy filling.
  • Tip: Keep an eye on the dish during the last few minutes of baking to ensure the top doesn’t burn. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Even a straightforward dish like Divan can have pitfalls. Here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Overcooking Chicken and Broccoli:

  • Overcooking these ingredients can lead to a mushy texture.
  • Solution: Cook chicken until just done and steam broccoli until tender-crisp.

Under-seasoned Sauce:

  • A bland sauce can make the dish unappealing.
  • Solution: Taste the sauce before adding it to the dish and adjust the seasoning as needed. Adding a bit more curry powder or lemon juice can enhance the flavor.

Incorrect Sauce Consistency:

  • Too thick or too thin a sauce can affect the dish’s overall texture.
  • Solution: If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a bit of milk or chicken broth. If it’s too thin, let it simmer a bit longer to thicken.

Uneven Baking:

  • Uneven baking can result in a dish that’s overcooked on the edges and undercooked in the center.
  • Solution: Spread the ingredients evenly in the baking dish and use an oven thermometer to ensure accurate baking temperatures.

By mastering these techniques and avoiding common mistakes, you can create a Divan dish that is both delicious and visually appealing.

Frequently Asked Questions about What does Divan mean in a recipe?

What is Chicken Divan?

Chicken Divan is a classic American casserole dish known for its comforting and rich flavors. It typically consists of poached chicken breasts, steamed broccoli, and a creamy cheese sauce, often topped with breadcrumbs or cheese and baked until golden and bubbly.

Can I make Divan without cream?

Yes, you can make Divan without cream. Alternatives like Greek yogurt, low-fat sour cream, or a béchamel sauce made with milk and flour can be used to create a lighter version of the dish without sacrificing its creamy texture.

What are the best substitutes for broccoli in Divan?

If you’re looking to substitute broccoli in Divan, consider using cauliflower, asparagus, or green beans. These vegetables offer a similar texture and can absorb the flavors of the creamy sauce, making them excellent alternatives.

How can I make a vegan version of Divan?

To make a vegan version of Divan, replace the chicken with tofu or tempeh. For the sauce, use a dairy-free alternative such as a cashew-based cream or a sauce made from nutritional yeast and plant-based milk. These substitutions maintain the dish’s richness while making it suitable for a vegan diet.

Can Divan dishes be frozen and reheated?

Yes, Divan dishes freeze well and can be reheated without losing their quality. To freeze, store the dish in an airtight container. When you’re ready to eat, reheat it in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through, ensuring the top becomes golden and bubbly again.

Recommended Internal Links

  1. In the section « Introduction to Divan in Cooking »:
  2. In the section « Classic Chicken Divan Recipe »:
  3. In the section « Nutritional Profile of Divan Dishes »:

Additional Resources and Readings

  1. In the section « Origin of the Term Divan »:
  2. In the section « Classic Chicken Divan Recipe »:
  3. In the section « Modern Interpretations of Divan »:

Summary of Divan’s Role in Cooking

What does Divan mean in a recipe? Divan dishes hold a special place in the culinary world, blending comfort, versatility, and rich flavors. From its historical roots at the Chatham Hotel’s Divan Parisien Restaurant to modern adaptations, Divan dishes continue to evolve and delight.

Incorporating Divan into modern cooking offers endless possibilities, from traditional Chicken Divan to healthier and vegan variations. Whether for a family dinner, a potluck, or a weeknight meal, Divan dishes bring warmth and satisfaction to the table.

By exploring different recipes and techniques, you can enjoy the timeless appeal of Divan dishes while tailoring them to suit contemporary tastes and dietary preferences. Embrace this classic dish and make it a cherished part of your culinary repertoire.

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