The last time I had Coronation Chicken it was in sandwich form and it was not a happy experience. And I still have the stain on my favourite t-shirt to prove it.
It was one of those supermarket sandwiches (don't ask why, it was a stressful day) and I was about to take my first bite when most of the contents of the sandwich cascaded out onto my white t-shirt like some primeval lava flow. It all seemed to happen in slow motion and I just sat and stared at the bright yellow gloop that was slowly moving down my chest.
It was time to act so I scooped up the offending filling with a windscreen ice scraper (I was eating in the car) and plopped it back into the sandwich carton from whence it came.
Although distraught at the ruination of my precious t-shirt I was more concerned about what had come out of the sandwich I was about to eat. There seemed to be only a few small bits of chicken (looked like chicken anyway), a sultana, something orangey/yellow and chewy and a huge amount of mayonnaise or something similar. It wasn't good but this closer inspection did make me decide never again to have store bought Coronation Chicken again. It was time to make it myself. Every cloud and all that!
So the recipe below cost me a t-shirt but it was worth it.
Homemade Coronation Chicken is a tremendous dish and extremely flexible. You can use it on sandwiches, for a baked potato topping, in pitta bread with salad or with rice for something more substantial.
The recipe is also very flexible too.
You can go down the traditional route like the original made for the Queen's Coronation in 1953 and poach your chicken, and then add apricot purée and whipped cream to your mayonnaise dressing (sautéed onions, tomato purée, red wine, curry powder, seasoning, lemon juice and mayo). Sounds a lot of faff but it was for The Queen, I suppose.
I poached the chicken for my recipe but to be honest it didn't make me want to do it again when compared to a good roast bird. But I do think it is worth simply roasting a good chicken for the dish as the extra flavour just adds a it more to it. I know it isn't traditional but it works for me. And with a roast bird you will have leftovers for yourself for a risotto or pasta dish in the following days.
The chutney is essential but try and use Gheetas Mango chutney. In my opinion, it is by far the best mango chutney you can buy.
I also use curry paste in my coronation chicken as I find that curry powder tends to give the dish a, well, powdery taste. I used a rogan josh curry paste which was very nice but feel free to use a madras paste (it will be hotter) or whatever is at hand.
Put in a bit more mango chutney if you like it sweeter, or add a bit more curry paste if you like it spicier. Some chopped fresh mango would be nice if you fancy but I feel the Gheetas chutney gives me enough of a fruit hit, being full of mango bits.
Some recipes call for sultanas but again I feel the mango chutney gives me enough sweet fruit. But then I don't like too much sweetness. I usually have to negotiate with my wife at this stage of the recipe as sweetness is never something to be suppressed in her world. But if you like sultanas and a bit more sweetness, feel free to use. It will still taste fantastic.
The dressing, which is normally based on mayonnaise can be lightened by the addition of some natural yoghurt. I tried some creme fraiche but found it too creamy. An essential for me is a good handful of toasted almonds stirred through at the end. I think the crunch of the nuts is perfect for the texture of the dish.
So give the sandwich aisle a miss, save your shirt or blouse and have a go at making your own coronation chicken.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
450g (approx) cooked roast chicken (breast and leg meat)
2 tbsp Hellmans mayonnaise (or equivalent)
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tbsp Gheetas Mango Chutney
2 tsp curry paste
1 tbsp sultanas (optional)
Toasted flaked almonds (handful)
Salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl, mix the mayo, yoghurt, chutney, curry paste and sultanas (if using) together, taste and add a bit more curry paste and chutney depending on your spice/sweet preference.
Season with salt and pepper if needed.
Chop the chicken into generous chunks and add to the dressing. You want the dressing to just coat the chunks lightly and bind everything together without becoming gloopy.
Mix in the toasted almonds and serve whichever way you wish.