Coronation Chicken – Worth the Effort

Coronation Chicken was indeed created for a coronation, that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, by Rosemary Hume and Constance Spry. The yellowish ready made concoction you find in your local sandwich shop is a pale shadow of the real thing. Indeed, the dressing actually has a pale pinkish colour when made properly because of the red wine and tomato puree involved (depending on how much turmeric is in your curry powder.)

Make no mistake, this is no sandwich filler. A very British picnic or lunch should have succulent poached chicken dressed with the Coronation Chicken sauce and served with a crisp salad. You will be amazed how much better and different this is to the normal gloop.

I have to be honest it is a bit of effort, but you can freeze the liquid essence that flavours the mix, to use it multiple times. If you have some leftover wine (that can happen, right?) then make the essence and freeze it in a couple of portions.

The quantities here will dress enough salad for about 6 servings, or more depending on size, and generosity with the precious sauce.

Ingredients

Essence

  • 50g of chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 dsp to tbsp of a decent traditional British Madras curry powder (if you are in the UK I can recommend the M&S roasted curry powder, it’s perfect)
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 150ml red wine
  • 120ml water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • a twist of pepper
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • And a small squeeze of the lemon juice

Dressing

  • about 400ml of bland homemade mayonnaise (made with sunflower oil and be modest with the mustard and lemon)
  • 2 tbsp apricot puree (the non-whole fruit part of apricot jam is just fine)
  • 3 tbsp softly whipped cream

Method

Essence

  1. Soften the onions in the oil very slowly until they are fully soft and not browned, this can easily take 20 plus minutes
  2. Add the curry powder and cook off for a couple of minutes
  3. Add the tomato puree, wine, water, bay leaf, salt, sugar, pepper, lemon slice and lemon juice and bring to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Now strain the liquid into a container through a sieve, pushing the onions through the sieve and stirring the small amount of onion paste into the essence. It seems a bit unpromising and not quite the right flavour at this stage but stick with it. You can freeze this essence.

Dressing

  1. Put the mayonnaise into a bowl
  2. Add the apricot puree (this provides sweetness and balances with the acidic essence)
  3. Spoon in the softly whipped cream
  4. Add as much of the essence you feel you need and gently hand whisk it to amalgamate.
  5. Taste and season, and adjust, if required.

Serve the Coronation Chicken sauce as a dressing with some poached chicken and salad.

Aloo Gobi – A Lovely Vegetarian Dish

This Aloo Gobi is based on a Felicity Cloake recipe. It’s fabulous.
You can get harder to find ingredients here Spices of India. This is where I buy less common spices and I bought my Methi and Nigella Seeds.
Generally, I make it with tinned tomatoes though fresh ones might be nice if you can get good ones in summer. Because of the tomatoes, it is slightly acidic. Felicity Cloake suggests adding the juice of half a lime at the end and I omitted as I felt it wasn’t needed. Your mileage may vary.
Cooking the potatoes well before adding the cauliflower is an important point, as the potatoes take a good bit longer to cook. Otherwise, the cauliflower florets can really break up before the potato cooks.
With a decently sized cauliflower, I had a good bit more cauliflower than potatoes, but this was no bad thing. That made me add some more tomatoes and some extra methi etc to balance it out the sauce. I think the quantities flex pretty freely without destroying the recipe. So, if you like it more “saucy” then increase the tomatoes, onion and spices a bit.
I like it quite “hot” and used red Kashmiri mirch chilli, it’s very good. Serving with some nice yoghurt can cool it down and the yoghurt works well with it anyway.
The methi is essential to the Aloo Gobi, the recipe usually suggests adding it at the end. Despite this I do think the curry benefits from being allowed to cool and rest in the fridge overnight after adding the methi; it really seems to develop the flavour.
The Aloo Gobi is delicious served on its own with some bread – your choice – naan, chapati, etc. Or, it is a great side dish for a wider Indian meal.
Though it’s not traditional I liked some frozen peas added for 5-10 minutes at the reheating stage.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds (though these look like Onion Seeds, they ain’t – they are different.)
  • 350g waxy potatoes, cut into 2cm dice (remember the larger the potato pieces the slower they are to cook. I think the smaller ones are better too.)
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets slightly larger than the potato
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, or 5 chopped medium fresh tomatoes and 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted in a dry pan and ground
  • ½-1 tsp chilli powder (I used 1 tsp of Kashmiri mirch, a hot powder, which also gives a reddish colour)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2-4 small green chillies, slit along their length (I left the seeds in)
  • 1 tsp salt (the potatoes, cauliflower and tomato can all stand salt so taste at the end as you may need more.)
  • 1 tbsp methi (dried fenugreek leaves – these are an essential flavour component in my opinion.)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped, for serving
  • Yoghurt for serving if preferred

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a wide, lidded pan over a medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the cumin and nigella seeds and cook for a few seconds until they pop, then add the potatoes and sauté until golden. Scoop out the potatoes with a slotted spoon and then repeat with the cauliflower, then scoop this too out into a separate bowl.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add a little more oil if necessary, and add the onion. Cook until soft and golden but not brown, then stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes. Tip in the tomatoes, ground coriander, chilli and turmeric and cook, stirring regularly, until the oil begins to pool around the side of the pan.
  3. Add the potatoes back in along with the fresh chillies and salt, bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, cover and cook for as long as it takes to cook the potatoes.
  4. Add the cauliflower only once the potatoes are cooked, and add a good splash of water, cover and cook until both are tender, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick and adding more water if necessary. Don’t overcook the cauliflower or it will disintegrate. If you think you will be re-heating then just leave it slightly al dente.
  5. Take off the heat, stir in the methi and garam masala and leave for 10 minutes
  6. Either serve the Aloo Gobi right away with coriander and yoghurt, or cool and fridge overnight, or freeze, all work well. (I really think leaving at least overnight helps massively. The methi seems to work its magic if left for a while.)

Chicken Vindail – Tomato Based Indian Curry

Last night I made Chicken Vindail for dinner. It is really tasty, a bit different, and quick to make. This Chicken Vindail is based on a Rick Stein recipe,  I can highly recommend his book on Indian food.

Pasta bowl with Chicken Vindail and plain basmati rice
Chicken Vindail with Plain Basmati Rice

Make this with chicken breasts, or a jointed chicken, or some skin on thighs and drummers according to your preference. I quite often have some chicken breast in the freezer in single portions to be used to make dishes as required. The cooking time for the chicken needs to be reduced or extended depending on the type and size of chicken pieces you use (cut up breasts will cook much quicker, but have a bit of a flavour disadvantage.)

Even if making this for myself where I reduce the quantities a bit I find I can put in a similar amount of spice and the full amount of vinegar and sugar, even if I’m using only 300g tomatoes and 1 chicken breast. Kashmiri Mirch is pretty ferocious so I’ve reduced the quantity to 1 tsp. If you like it hot, or your chilli powder is not as strong, then you may want some more.
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2cm cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed. Use common sense here. If they are huge fat cloves then reduce by a few.
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri mirch, chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground fenugreek
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500g chopped tomatoes (no need to peel)
  • 1kg chicken thighs and drummers (or 2-3 chicken breasts chopped into big chunks. Don’t cut them too small or they just dry out. Reduce the time they are in the cooking sauce. I find 15 minutes simmering long enough.)
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar (you could get a bit fancy and use jaggery but it really won’t make any difference)
Method
  1. Temper the cinnamon, clove and star anise by frying in the hot oil for 60 seconds
  2. Add the chopped onions and cook on a medium heat till they soften and go a bit golden, should take about 15 minutes
  3. Add the crushed garlic, cumin, chilli, fenugreek, turmeric, and salt. Cook these off for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, cooking them for 5 minutes till they begin to soften down.
  5. Add the chicken pieces, stirring them in to coat with the sauce, if using breast meat then hold them back for a later addition.
  6. Cover the pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes. (Simmer the sauce until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has a nice consistency.) Watch for it drying and catching, add a little water from the kettle if needed. If using breast you will get away with leaving it out until last 15 minutes. If using larger chicken pieces take care to cook long enough to fully cook through. A temperature probe can be useful for checking if larger pieces of meat are cooked.
  7. Stir in the vinegar and sugar to finish, simmering gently for 5 minutes uncovered.
Lovely with plain basmati rice or some Indian breads.

Kheema with Peas (Minced Lamb Curry with Peas)

Kheema with peas in the cooking pot
Kheema with peas

Kheema is a minced lamb curry with peas. You can either buy minced lamb or buy some lamb and mince it yourself. Probably best made with minced leg of lamb, but if I’m in a hurry I just buy some minced lamb from the supermarket. It does need some fat content though or it will be “dry” and a bit flavourless.

Like all of these dishes it works best the day after, or if frozen and defrosted later. You can keep half the methi to add at the reheating stage, or even add a bit more.
It’s also really quick to make. Chop the onions first and start them softening while you look out and prep everything else.
Methi really is an essential ingredient. You can buy it mail order here: Spices of India
Green Chutney works really well with this, and I always serve with it, and some natural yoghurt.
(At any stage if the spices or mix start to dry and catch add a splash of water to recover it and avoid burning)

Ingredients

  • 500g minced leg of lamb
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 green cardamom pods, lightly cracked
  • 1 large onion quite finely chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½-1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (mirch), to taste
  • 200ml water, add a little more if too “thick”
  • 100g frozen peas (vary quantity as you like)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (methi)

Last minute additions

  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 chopped green chilli
  • Juice of half a lemon (optional)
  • Natural yoghurt (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium heat and add the green cardamom pods for about 10 seconds.
  2. Add the onions, frying until softened and brown in colour. This will take up to 20 minutes
  3. Add the garlic and the ginger cooking for 1-2 minutes stirring frequently so they don’t catch and burn.
  4. Stir in the tomato puree and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. You now need to cook the minced lamb. You’ve got two choices. Either fry it off with the rest of the spices (in which case you might need to turn the heat up a bit, but it’s hard to brown without burning the other ingredients, so I avoid this). Or, as I prefer to do, cook it in a separate hot non-stick pan (that way you can really brown it without scorching the other ingredients, also you can choose how much of the fat you add as some is needed to help the flavour.)
  6. Add the turmeric powder and chilli powder. Cook and stir well for 3-4 minutes until the mince is even coloured all the way through.
  7. Add the methi leaves, and the water, and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and simmer on a gentle heat for 20 minutes.
  8. Lastly, adjust the seasoning and add the garam masala, coriander and chilli just before serving.
  9. Serve warm with some lemon juice and Indian bread (naan, chapati or parathas) and green chutney. A dollop of natural yoghurt doesn’t go amiss (an especially nice contrast if you like the Kheema quite hot.). I usually omit the lemon juice if I’m using my favourite Green Onion Chutney.

Green Onion Chutney – The Ultimate Indian Side Dish

A very good Green Onion Chutney. It has a zingy flavour with a mixture of sweet and sour from the lime and sugar, and fresh herbs from the coriander and mint, the chillies add the final kick. Best eaten fresh. I’d say within an hour or two. But may keep for a few hours longer in the fridge. It is great as part of a small set of raitas, pickles, salads, and chutneys when serving Indian nibbles like pakora.
It’s particularly easy to make. I have a small food processor and find it essential for this. Just put everything in the processor and blitz, I use the Pulse feature. If you have the patience then you could chop it all finely by hand, but for me, life’s too short.
 
This chutney works with almost any curry, pakora, poppadoms etc. It’s particularly nice with Kheema.
Ingredients
  • Large handful mint leaves
  • Large handful coriander leaves
  • 2 fresh green chillies roughly chopped (I leave the seeds in)
  • 1 small (about 75g) onion roughly chopped
  • 1½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
Method
  1. Tip it all into a food processor and blitz on pulse; you might need to scrape it off the sides a couple of times. Doesn’t want to be too smooth in my opinion. Some texture is required otherwise you will just make a paste.

Chicken Passanda – A Subtle Delicate Curry

A very passable Passanda. Based on a Rick Stein recipe from his highly recommended India book. Can be made with skinless thighs, which need to be cooked a bit longer. I think the toasted almonds essential. I don’t reduce the sauce too much as I like it.

I’ve also added some mushroom. Not sure it’s very “authentic” for a Passanda, but it is a tasty addition, in my view. Actually, half a teaspoon of sugar to give an unnoticed sweetness also works.
Ingredients
  • 3tbsp ghee (I usually just use butter)
  • 5cm piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 green cardamom pods lightly pressed till they crack
  • 1 small to medium onion finely chopped
  • 3cm fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 100-200g mushrooms, sliced or chopped to a reasonable size, as you prefer.
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (mirch)
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts, cut in half or chopped to your preferred size for quicker cooking
  • 200g Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar (optional)
  • 100ml water
Chicken Passanda with Toasted Almond Flakes and Coriander
Chicken Passanda

For garnish

  • Handful of flaked almonds, toasted in a dry frying pan, you can do this in advance
  • Generous handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves
Method
  1. Heat the ghee or butter in a suitable saute pan
  2. Fry the cinnamon and cardamom for 30 seconds
  3. Add the onion and cook for 10-20 minutes or so, till it goes soft and golden
  4. Add the ginger and garlic for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring to avoid it catching
  5. Add the mushroom and cook till it’s soft and the liquid that comes off is almost completely reduced
  6. Add the spices and stir in for a minute or so.
  7. Add the chicken and stir
  8. Add the yoghurt, ground almonds, salt and water
  9. Simmer till the chicken is cooked and the sauce looks ready, shouldn’t take more than about 8-10 minutes
Serve with some basmati rice or breads and sprinkle toasted almonds and coriander for a tasty garnish and texture.