Monday, January 12, 2015

Currying favor at afternoon tea

According to the website today is Curried Chicken Day Curried chicken is a popular dish in Asia, the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean. The word "curry" is an anglicized version of the Tamil word “kari,” which means “stir-fried.”

While we usually associate curried chicken with a hot Indian dish served over rice, there are many other recipes that call for both key ingredients. Did you know that in England, curried chicken salad is called Coronation Chicken? Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume created the dish for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation banquet in 1953. It has been a popular sandwich filling ever since.

Here's an easy mock version from BBC Good Food to use in finger sandwiches:

  • Shredded Chicken from a medium sized pre roasted chicken
  • 3 tbsp Mayo
  • Mild curry powder to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Mango chutney
  • sultanas - as many as you fancy (editor's note - may substitute golden raisins for sultanas)

The Telegraph news offers the original recipe along with further explanation of the historic dish:

The famous coronation chicken served at the Queen’s coronation lunch is usually attributed to Constance Spry. Popular lore has it that Spry based the recipe on its similarly rich and spicy royal relation, jubilee chicken, prepared for the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935, which mixed the chicken in mayonnaise and curry.

However, it was Rosemary Hume who was actually behind coronation chicken, the recipe for which went on to appear in the first edition, in 1956, of The Constance Spry Cookery Book and is indeed still to be found in the modern edition. Serves 6-8
“One would not venture to serve, to a large number of guests of varying and unknown tastes, a curry dish in the generally accepted sense of this term,” wrote Spry. “I doubt whether many of the 300-odd guests at the coronation luncheon detected this ingredient [curry powder] in a chicken dish which was distinguished mainly by a delicate and nutlike flavour in the sauce.”


Poach two young roasting chickens with carrot, bouquet garni, salt and peppercorns in water and a little wine, as well as enough barely to cover, for about 40 minutes or until tender.
Allow to cool in the liquid. Joint the birds, removing the bones with care.

Cream of curry sauce

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 50g/2oz onion, finely chopped
  • 1 dessert spoon curry powder
  • 1 good tsp tomato purée
  • 1 wineglass red wine
  • ¾ wineglass water
  • A bay leaf
  • Salt, sugar, a touch of pepper
  • A slice or two of lemon and a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp apricot purée 450ml/¾ pint mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tbsp lightly whipped cream

  1. Heat the oil, add onion, cook gently for 3-4 minutes, add curry powder. Cook again for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add purée, wine, water and bay leaf. Bring to boil, add salt, sugar to taste, pepper, and the lemon and lemon juice. Simmer with the pan uncovered for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Strain and cool. Add by degrees to the mayonnaise with the apricot purée to taste.
  4. Adjust seasoning, adding a little more lemon juice if necessary. Finish with the whipped cream. Take a small amount of sauce (enough to coat the chicken) and mix with a little extra cream and seasoning.
  5. Mix the chicken and the sauce together, arrange on a dish, coat with the extra sauce.

Rice salad
The rice salad which accompanied the chicken was of rice, peas, diced raw cucumber and finely chopped mixed herbs, all mixed in a well-seasoned French dressing. For convenience in serving at the Coronation, the chicken was arranged at one end of an oblong dish and a rice salad at the other.