Coronation chicken, Anglo-India, curry powder and back to Coronation chicken

"There is a vast difference between curry-powder-flavored dishes and Indian cuisine." Punita - Poppies and Persimmons

This post has been a bit of a circular journey for me. It began with a recipe from Thomasina Miers called Blistered “coronation” cauliflower salad with scented couscous and pomegranate, which was her contribution to last week's Guardian Newsletter.


Many moons ago I did a post on the British dish Coronation chicken, from which she took the idea for this recipe. So at first I thought I would see who else had tinkered with the original idea - an Anglo-Indian concoction from Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume for the Queen's coronation. Not having much success with this at first - it's all a matter of what you use as your search term of course - I thought I would instead look at Anglo-Indian cuisine, but rapidly decided that this was far too big a subject for me to consider today, well either too big, or too small. There are so many dishes that make up Anglo-Indian cuisine and each one deserves a post of its own. Besides it was getting very political and I wasn't feeling very political.


Whilst I was reading about Anglo-Indian cuisine I came across lots of mostly derogatory remarks about curry powder - a British invention - and so decided instead to do curry powder and see if I could find some interesting modern dishes that used curry powder. Too hard, although I did find some general stuff about curry powder itself, such as:


"Curry powder was created by the British to evoke the essence of Indian food and is not used in authentic Indian cooking." The Spruce Eats


"There are thousands of curries and to apply one generic powder to all of them is frankly insulting." Dana Veldon - Kitchn


Indeed at this point in time most of the articles I found were getting very hot under the collar about colonialism, and curry powder, and so I came back to my original instigator - Thomasina Miers' recipe - shown below. And I have to say it looks quite tempting. Maybe next time I have a cauliflower and don't know what to do with it. By now I had also found the right search terms to discover other variations on the Coronation chicken theme, so I decided to go with my original idea.

Before I do close the circle and return to coronation variants though, just a word about curry powder. It is true that you won't find it in India. It's a British invention of a mix of spices that is turmeric heavy and also includes, coriander, cumin and fenugreek. Well there are, of course, lots of variations, but it's invariably very yellow. There is a lot more to say about the history of curry powder so that too deserves a post of its own. I would have dealt with it here, but my time is running out, so Coronation variants it is.


Coronation chicken itself is a leftover dish of chicken reheated with some curry powder and mixed with mayonnaise, and dried fruit - well something like that.


"Coronation chicken used to be the nadir of British cuisine, the sort of dish found only at the worst sorts of weddings with a pay-bar, leaking marquee and drunkenly inappropriate best man. Gloopy, unimaginative and radioactively yellow, it was served by people who hated their guests." Harry Wallop - The Times


Below are Easy Coronation Chicken from The Spruce Eats and a slightly modernised version - Coronation chicken salad with coconut dressing from Michelle Southan. Neither of which fit the description above.

Then having got your Coronation chicken leftovers together, these can be made into other things - from traditional Coronation chicken sandwiches (delicious.), to a fancy Deconstructed chicken salad with the sauce on the side (apologies no recipe unless you subscribe to The Times); Spicy curry chicken salad cones with fuji apples from Thirsty for Tea; a similar cocktail concoction from somewhere; and Coronation chicken jacket potatoes - well too good to resist because of having done baked potatoes recently, although they don't look terribly tempting - from Greedy Gourmet.

And finally winding our way back to where we began with the coronation concept used with things other than chicken I found Coronation egg sandwiches from Clare Aldous at Dish NZ; Coronation chickpeas from Yotam Ottolenghi - and there seemed to be lots of this particular variation; Coronation steak, radish and pea salad from Simply Beef and Lamb; Coronation crab from Tamsin Day-Lewis and Coronation salmon curry from Professor Sanjib Bakhta of Birkbeck College, London. Interesting that an Indian, born in India should submit a recipe with Anglo-Indian origins of an example of a dish from home, to a collection of recipes for foreign students. Also interesting that a fusion dish such as Coronation chicken should be extended to fuse with other cuisines such as the Middle-East in the recipes from Ottolenghi and Thomasina Miers.


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