Coronation chicken is a diced chicken with a creamy sauce and a dash of curry powder created for a luncheon during Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation and has persisted- and changed – and changed – in British cuisine for 70 years.
The sauce is typically flavored with curry powder, apricot jam, and lemon juice, and it may also contain other ingredients such as raisins, almonds, and chutney. The dish is usually served as a salad or sandwich filling, and it has become a popular option for picnics and summer parties.
But how did it all start, and where might one find it now, particularly in light of Charles III and Camilla’s upcoming coronation on May 6?
350 international dignitaries invited to the coronation were served lunch at Westminster School in 1953 by the Le Cordon Bleu London cooking school, overseen by renowned florist Constance Spry and chef and novelist Rosemary Hume. The menu needed to be straightforward but also appropriate for such a significant event because students were delivering the food and the venue’s kitchen was too small to create anything hot than soup and coffee.
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This led to the creation of coronation chicken, or “Poulet Reine Elizabeth” as it was referred to on the menu. The chicken was poached in water and wine and then coated in a creamy sauce. The source was made of mayonnaise, whipped cream, apricot and tomato purée, curry powder, lemon, pepper, and red wine. The dish was originally served cold. A rice, green pea, and pimento salad that had been well-seasoned was served alongside the entrée. It had “a delicate and nut-like flavor,” Spry claimed, and she doubted anyone who had the dish would have recognized it as a curry.
70 years later
Coronation chicken, which was created seventy years ago, is still widely available throughout the United Kingdom and is frequently seen in sandwiches in both huge supermarkets and tiny cafés. By stating, “This dish carries a sentimentality that makes people think of picnics and street parties,” Perryman exemplified its enduring appeal. It is also quite easy to obtain. You can modify the protein, use it in a salad, or make the recipe fancier for a dinner party by adjusting the seasonings. The meal has remained a proud part of our history at the institute, and we enjoy seeing how frequently different chefs have reinvented it over time.