London, Coronation Chicken & a Tribute to a Friend

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Less than two months ago, I sat at the Oscar Wilde Bar in London indulging in my first High Tea ever, with 4 people that I had only ever spoken to online. Sounds weird? It was my first blogger meet-up. A fellow blogger, Selma (of Selma’s Table) had organized a wonderful afternoon.

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From left: Me, Justine, Ginger, Marita & Selma

On the day that I met the girls, I was panicking a little. Ok a lot. I was tired, I had flown in that morning from Geneva and I kept putting off breakfast because I wanted to 1) check in 2) get through security 3) get on the plane 4) get my luggage 5) check into the hotel 6) change 7) change at the train station after I realized the restaurant had a dress code. By the time I had breakfast, I was frazzled, tired, and had a burning in my chest that only intensified after I ate. I had also misaveraged the time to meet up because I tend not to consider travel time in Guyana – everything is 15 minutes away and people are always late.

I was planning to use the tube, but the lines were ridiculous and I thought that a taxi would be faster. Spoiler alert: it was NOT. Dammit Google maps – I checked it after I got into the taxi. I also didn’t have water with me, so I was panicked, my chest was burning, and I was dehydrated. I was so frazzled that when the concierge asked me if I wanted to check my coat and purse, I gave him the plastic bag I had in my hand containing the comfy crocs that I had changed out of. Yes. That was all I gave him. A plastic bag of well worn shoes. I’m so classy. You can take me to all the fancy spots.

When I was leaving, I couldn’t find my tag, so he asked me what I had checked. I told him and he very nicely said, “ah yes. I remember you.” Serious respect to him for not being condescending (at least to my face)…I do love those Brits and their manners!

The most British day ever.
The most British day ever.

After adding that experience to my “Adventures of Awkward Girl” repertoire, I found the table, met Selma and the others that had arrived already (I wasn’t the last one there! Whew) and proceeded to have a lovely and very memorable afternoon.

How did this Tea happen? About a month before that, I had emailed Selma to tell her that I’d be in England for a day or two, and if she was available, maybe we could meet up for coffee? Not only did she respond almost immediately, she volunteered to round up other London based bloggers that I might have met virtually and make an afternoon of it. She even suggested Tea, which was awesome because a legit afternoon tea was on my food list. She took care of all the details – finding a restaurant, the reservation, contacting the other bloggers, confirming dietary restrictions – all I had to do was show up.

I had never met Selma in person before that day. She was a blogger that I met over at Fiesta Friday and then bumped into her at the monthly “In my Kitchen” meetup over at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial. Both meetups host dozens of participants, and quite often you might come across cool blogs, comment a few times on their posts, and then get lost in your daily life so you might not check in for a while. Selma wasn’t like that. She was a regular visitor and hosted Fiesta Friday on many occasions. One of her recipes was featured on Food52, and while that could have probably ignited jealousy in some bloggers (me included), Selma was so nice that you couldn’t help but be happy for her and thoroughly impressed. Because of Selma, I was able to meet Justine of Eclectic Odds & Sods, Marita at MyDinner.co.uk, and Ginger over at Ginger & Bread.

Sadly, Selma passed away about two weeks ago. The lovely Fiesta Friday gals put together a virtual tribute to her, and today I’m sharing a recipe that reminds me of Selma.

Selma on the right
Selma on the right

I’m sharing my attempt at Coronation Chicken. I don’t eat pork or beef so that kind of eliminates 3/4 of the popular British dishes to try. Coronation Chicken was created to honour Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1952 and is still reasonably popular today. You even see fresh coronation chicken sandwiches packaged for sale in Marks & Spencer, and it is a popular sandwich on High Tea menus (apart from cucumber sandwiches). Because Selma was responsible for my first blogger meetup and high tea, this recipe reminds me of a good friend, the power of food to connect people, and a lovely lady who will be missed.

Coronation Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe adapted from BBC Food

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Ingredients

2 cups cooked Chicken, shredded

1 tbsp Butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

½ tsp Red Pepper flakes

2 tsp Curry Powder

2 tbsp Tomato Purée

3½fl oz dry White Wine

3½fl oz Water or Stock

1 tbsp Apricot Jam

3 ½ fl oz Mayonnaise

1 fl oz Heavy Crream

1 tsp chopped fresh Coriander

1 tbsp Lemon Juice

Salt and Black pepper, to taste

¼ cup slivered almonds (toasted lightly dry frying pan)

Instructions

Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the shallot and red pepper flakes and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the tomato purée and cook for an additional minute. Add the wine and continue to cook until the volume of the liquid has reduced by half.

Stir in the jam and water / stock, continue to simmer until the volume of the liquid has reduced by half again. Set aside to cool.

Add the mayonnaise and the heavy cream to the curry dressing. Stir in the lemon juice and coriander.

Add shredded chicken, and add salt & black pepper to taste. Top with slivered almonds.

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16 comments

  1. Those are lovely pictures of you all. You must be glad you made it to the tea despite your frantic time getting there. Thanks for sharing this lovely, post and your memories.

  2. You are one of the lucky blogger who had the chance to meet Selma. She was indeed a very awesome person. I could imagine her arranging for your meeting while she’s having tough times. She was so full of energy and happiness. Thanks for being a part of this tribute, Indira. The Coronation Chicken looks fab. 🙂

  3. lovely tribute Indira, I was shocked to hear it even though I knew her only in passing. Reading your post reminds me how even ‘little’ acts like organizing a get together can have meaningful impact. thanks for sharing your story (lol at the plastic bag) and delicious sounding recipe

  4. What a special story and tribute to Selma. I had to chuckle at your stories before the meeting, I’d probably have been the same way. Gorgeous coronation chicken, everything with a little curry powder is always lovely isn’t it? 🙂 I too was to meet up with Selma last year when I was in England visiting with family, she had arranged to spend a full day with me and came up with all sorts of ideas. But alas, I had to cancel at the very last minute, so you can imagine my guilt when I heard that she passed away. We talked about re-scheduling for this year, she was one in a million!

  5. Indira, Delicious little toast topping (or you could just eat with a spoon also!) you’ve made with Selma’s chicken. So wonderful that you had the opportunity to meet Selma in person. Thank you for joining our tribute and for your kind words.

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