Britain loves an extra day off, thank you Ma’am, no peeking. Britain loves a choir. And we love people with funny names. We love kebabs…no salad for me please. Hey, naked boy, don’t you know there’s a hose pipe ban? …and feeding the ducks…
There’s a lot of fuss about the new T-Mobile ad. It’s themed around the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and what Britain loves. A stream of characters come out onto the famous balcony at Buckingham Palace including jockeys, a choir, a charity parachutist, and a very camp ‘queen’. The negative comments are mainly that it’s a bit trashy and I suspect because it doesn’t show Britain as people think it should be. Perhaps this is due to a nostalgia for Britain at the time of the Queen’s coronation with red double-decker buses, bowler hats, red letter boxes, the crown jewels, Beefeaters and fish and chips. Indeed those symbols sum up the UK for many people outside Britain.
But I like the T-Mobile ad as it celebrates Britain and British people today in all our quirky, haphazardness and often slightly tacky enthusiasms and how we like to send ourselves up. For me it shows how much we embrace the new and absorb it into our culture, for better or for worse. Nowhere is this more evident than in our food and it’s well documented that ‘British curry’ (actually brought to the UK by Bangladeshis) has eclipsed fish and chips as our most popular take-away. I would add ‘Britain loves spicy’ to the list.
Invited to the Mango Tree (for a ‘meet and tweet’!) the other evening, I met British chef Paul Kennedy who has taken to a Thai style of cooking with gusto, spending months in Bangkok and shaping a modern Thai menu which has evolved over the past year – getting a bit spicier too (no bad thing). We were treated to a range of dishes from the menu for tasting (and tweeting) while the top of the Dubai Mall fountains shot up past the windows. Favourites for me were yum talay cerviche (marinated mixed seafood salad with spicy lime dressing), gaeng kiew wan goong (prawns with aubergine and sweet basil in a Thai green curry sauce) and khoa niew ma muang (fresh mango served with sweet sticky rice topped with coconut milk).
Paul said he was going on Studio One TV to do a special dish for the Jubilee; Thai-inspired Coronation chicken. Now there’s an idea! I must point out that this isn’t Paul’s recipe but one I made up at home and very nice it was too. He was kind enough to give us all a jar of freshly made green curry sauce (which was significantly nicer than my usual curry-in-a-hurry). So whether you are draping yourself in a red, white and blue flag this weekend and having a street party or firmly anti-monarchist (or somewhere in between), I hope this passes muster.
Thai-style Coronation chicken – serves 4 – Download printable version
1 whole chicken approx 1.4 kg
4 stalks of lemongrass
6 kaffir lime leaves or a strip of pared lime zest (optional)
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger (peel on)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
8 whole black (or green) peppercorns
I tablespoon of vegetable cooking oil
2-3 teaspoons Thai green curry paste
150 ml mayonnaise (or coconut cream)
150 ml yoghurt
2 tablespoons hot mango chutney
2-3 limes, juiced
1 ripe mango, peeled and thinly sliced
small bunch of fresh coriander
- Put the chicken, lemongrass stalks, ginger, onion, salt and peppercorns in a pan and cover with water until the thighs are covered. Bring to the boil, partially cover the pan and simmer for an hour until the chicken is cooked. If you can’t get lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves, use the rind of a couple of limes with all white pith removed.
- Take the chicken out of the stock and allow to cool slightly. Strain the stock and reserve the liquid. Remove the skin from the chicken and take all the meat off the bones, tearing the flesh into strips. Discard the bones. Refrigerate the stock. You can do this part in advance.
- Scrape the fat from the top of the stock. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and lightly toast the green curry paste (add more if you like spicy food), add 200 ml of stock and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Lightly whisk together the mayonnaise, yoghurt, curried stock, mango chutney and lime juice. Taste and add more lime juice to taste. Use coconut cream instead of the mayonnaise for a different taste. Mix with the chicken and mango and scatter with coriander leaves.
- Serve with rice or as part of a salad. Put on your socks with sandals, get out your deck chair and Union Jack bunting and make a large pot of tea (optional).
So what do you cook for a celebration?Are you celebrating the Jubilee? What sums up Britain to you? Love or hate the T-Mobile ad? I appreciate your comments.
Disclosure: I was a guest of the Mango Tree