Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Diana Henry's Diamond Jubilee Chicken

I finally got round to making this, albeit a day or two late.  Mostly because the only person who I know who would've enjoyed this dish would've been the Queen of my life - my beloved Grandma.  Our Jubilee celebrations were somewhat muted by her absence.  It's been nearly seven years since she passed away and her presence is still keenly missed at significant events.  Especially when they involve the Queen, because when I was little, I genuinely thought she was the Queen.

She used to have the same kind of perm that was hairsprayed to within an inch of its life.  She was short like the Queen, never showed her emotions when she was sad and was the perfect matriarch to keep us all in line; yet would always put herself before everyone else when there was a crisis.
It tastes better than it looks in the picture!

So much so that I honestly believe that she wanted to be so much more; but she was born in a time where women knew their place and did as they were told by their fathers and then their husbands.  That's not to say that my grandad bossed her around - far from it. But just simple things - like what we had for dinner - were dictated by the male of the household.

Whenever I moan about cooking two or three different dinners, I always try and remember that we were bought up eating what made my grandad happy and she'd only get her way over dinner if we went out to a restaurant.  He's a little more adventurous these days, but it took years to twist his arm.

I remember Coronation Chicken being introduced to the household at some big family event or another.  Curry wasn't even permitted so the idea of cold chicken curry was completely radical.  I'll readily admit that I ate a bit and turned my own nose up at it.  I'm not sure if my memory fails me but I swear it had something like grapes or raisins in it.  And that's what put me off.

But as I matured and my tastes changed, I started to enjoy the amazing Coronation Chicken sandwiches I used to get from a tiny artisan deli near Exmouth Market when I was living and working in London.  And I'm sure I enjoyed it at least once when my grandma made it before she passed away.  But of course it's one of those things that I've parked on a 'not without Grandma' shelf since then.  Along with the chocolates that I bought her back from holiday the day before she left us.  They lived in the back of my fridge - moving house twice - until recently when I finally threw them out.

Anyhow, it felt appropriate to try a modernisation of Coronation Chicken to celebrate the Jubilee.  I was torn between this recipe and BBC Good Food's reworking of it.  The Torygraph recipe won out simply because it was more faithful to the original recipe - using fresh mango whereas the Beeb used pomegranates.

Queen of my heart (second left)
Overall, it worked really well together.  The old-fashioned dressing complimented the fresh, modern flavour of mango and avocado and I loved the touch of the crunchy nuts.  My only gripe was that the dressing was a bit tasteless but I'm assuming that it depends completely on the ingredients that you use.  It includes mayonnaise, curry powder and mango chutney.  All of which will vary greatly depending on the brands that you choose to use.  I would normally use Geeta's Premium Mango Chutney, but had run out so bought some of Tesco's Finest Mango and Apricot Chutney.  It was particularly sour and vinegary - not something I'll be using as an accompaniment to a curry.  And the mayo wasn't my usual brand either.  So it took a little tinkering until I was happy with it.  But of course, my quantities will only work for someone else with similar brands and a similar palate.

If you're not all Jubilee'd out and looking for something different to serve for a special occasion, this would be a good sharing dish.  But beware of the industrial quantity of dressing it makes!  You might be eating it for days on end so make sure you like the flavour.

You can find the recipe here.

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