Time for a bit of a coronation chicken revival. Constance Spry invented the dish for the Coronation of the Queen back in 1953, and when the dish is made with a little tender loving care, it can make a delicious cold main course that is a million miles away from some of the ghastly versions from buffet dinners during the Sixties and Seventies. Here I have put quails and their eggs to the coronation chicken test, it makes rather a good sophisticated little starter salad if you are entertaining your friends on a posh picnic at maybe the races, fishing or shooting. A few crisp salad leaves and you have a great starter or snack.
4 free range quails
500ml chicken stock
small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small, mild red chilli, chopped
1tsp ground cumin
20g root ginger, scraped and grated
1tsp ground turmeric
4-5 curry leaves
A small piece of cinnamon stick
The black seeds from 3 cardamom pods
tsp fenugreek seeds
tsp black mustard seeds
1tbsp vegetable or corn oil
3-4tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
1tbsp Greek yoghurt
1tbsp chopped coriander
1tbsp mango chutney, chopped if very chunky
12 Clarence Court free-to-fly quails eggs, boiled for 2-3 minutes, cooled in cold water and shelled.
Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and gently cook the onion, garlic, chilli and all the spices for 3-4 minutes with a lid on without colouring the onions. Add the stock and the quails, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes then remove the quails and put to one side and continue simmering the stock on a medium heat until it reduces to 3-4 tablespoons then blend in a liquidiser; leave to cool.
Mix with the mayonnaise, yoghurt, coriander and chutney and season. Remove the legs from quails then remove the breasts from the bone. You can either leave the leg meat on the bone or remove it. Mix the breasts and legs or meat and quails eggs with the sauce and leave for a couple of hours in the fridge.
Serve on some crisp salad leaves.