Howzat for the tastiest tea inspired by the ICCC Cricket World Cup
The ICC Cricket World Cup is the cause of great excitement in the Hamilton household. To quote the song, "I don't like cricket. Oh no. I love it!"
I love the game, and everything about it. If I was forced to choose only one sport to exist for the remainder of humanity's existence on this planet, it would be a supremely easy choice for me.
It brings me happy memories, sitting with my dad with Soul Limbo on the long wave radio signalling the start of Test Match Special.
I remember being part of my junior school polymath team and winning a round for my team when the final question was 'What does MCC stand for in sport?' I confidently dinged my bell and answered, 'Marylebone Cricket Club', and was rewarded with a slightly patronising 'And how do you know that, young lady?' 'Because I love cricket' I cheekily retorted.
I have cricket-related memories from every phase of my life, even more so now that my son Tommy plays for our local club Sawbridgeworth.
Basically, all summer long my weekends consist of spending frantic mornings finding missing kit, or the postcode for the away ground, or helping Faye and Suzanne make bacon rolls and cups of tea for the colts' café. Then, if I'm lucky, I get to spend lazy afternoons watching Tommy and the under-15s play at Town Fields, or I'll be freezing my butt off up at the Leventhorpe playing fields whilst nattering with our lovely group of colts parents.
It's also the one national team I can watch without a hint of conflict because, although we often just hear that England are playing, it's actually the England and Wales Cricket Board, so I can support England and Wales both at once!
The format of the tournament has changed from previous occasions. Rather than group stages with seeded and unseeded teams, only 10 teams have qualified and they will all play each other once before the top four advance to the semi-finals.
As we all know, the cricket tea is a highlight of any match. Apparently, the lunches and teas at Lord's, the home of cricket, are so good that batsmen have been known to deliberately get themselves out just before a break so they can indulge to their heart's content without having to go back out to the crease afterwards!
In the build-up to the tournament, there was an amazing photograph of all 10 captains posing with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and I got to thinking what a cricket tea might look like if you had dishes from each of the 10 countries represented. This is the menu for my imaginary World Cup cricket tea.
Afghanistan – Kabuli pilao
A dome-shaped centrepiece of gently seasoned, spiced rice with chucks of slow-cooked lamb, lentils, raisins, carrots, ground cardamom and nuts. Perfect combination of carbs and protein to keep energy levels up.
Bangladesh – Chotpoti
The classic tamarind-flavoured chickpea stew with all the traditional garnishes which look amazing and take the flavour to another level. Perfect slow-burn energy for a long day in the field.
South Africa – Magwinya or fat cakes
These national favourites are a type of doughnut thought to have Dutch origins and are similar to vetkoek, a fat cake, but are lighter. Magwinya can be cut open and stuffed with cheese or jam for a sweet or savoury tooth.
Pakistan – Seekh kebabs
What else to represent the meat-loving nation of Pakistan? Beef or lamb flavoured with lots of spice, onions, garlic and ginger. Perfect with a pitta and some cooling yoghurt and mint raitha.
Australia – Lamingtons
Got to have a bit of cake in your cricket tea and these are the best ones in Australia in my view. Square slabs of vanilla sponge with a thin layer of jam, then dipped in chocolate covering and rolled in desiccated coconut. Impossible to stop at one.
New Zealand – Sausage rolls
You can't have a cricket tea without sausage rolls, so the Kiwis can take this one. Our 'land of the long white cloud' pastries have sausage meat and minced beef with grated carrot for added yum factor.
Sri Lanka – Frozen pineapple lollipops
So many great things in Sri Lankan cuisine, but you can't have a cricket tea without a nice bit of fruit, so some gorgeous tropical pineapple, cut into wedges then put onto sticks and popped in the freezer. For an extra-special touch, sprinkle some finely chopped chilli and mint.
India – Samosas
What else could I choose but this ubiquitous triangular pastry, filled with either spicy minced lamb with cumin and chilli or the equally delicious vegetable option, with potatoes, peas and carrots all wrapped in crispy pastry and fried to golden perfection.
West Indies – Pholourie or split pea fritters
You might have expected me to go for something that screams Caribbean, like Jamaican jerk chicken. But some of my favourite West Indian cricketers have been from Guyana: the great Clive 'Supercat' Lloyd (coolest sportsman ever in glasses? Discuss), Carl Hooper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul to name only a few, so Guyana is where I went for this contribution. This delicious and spicy savoury doughnut is made from a split pea batter, flavoured with the Caribbean favourite seasoning allspice, and I would serve it with a Scotch bonnet aioli.
England – Scones with jam and clotted cream
And last but certainly not least, the English (and Welsh) contribution. What is a cricket tea without a big platter of home-made scones with raspberry jam and lashings of clotted cream?
SAIRA'S FAILPROOF RECIPE for PERFECT SCONES
There are three things you need to remember to make sure your scones are always perfect:
- The oven needs to be properly pre-heated to get the toasty bottom and quick rise needed
- The mix should be quite soft and squidgy – if you work it too much or there isn't enough liquid in the mixture, the scones won't be as light and airy
- When using the cutter, always cut straight up and down, don't twist. That way you get a straight rise and a crisp scalloped edge. Perfect!
Perfect scones (makes 8)
- 225g self-raising flour (plus extra for rolling)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 65g salted butter (at room temperature)
- 35g caster sugar
- 150ml whole milk (plus extra for glazing)
- 60g sultanas (optional)
Mix the flour and baking powder together in a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips, not the whole hand!
Stir in the sugar, and add the dried fruit at this stage if you are using it. Add the milk gradually and bring the mixture together with a metal spoon or palette knife.
Once the mixture starts to come together, use your hands to work it into a smooth ball as quickly as possible.
Tip out onto a floured surface and press out gently into a rectangle (about 4-5cm thick) and use a 6cm cutter to stamp out 8 circular shapes. Reshape and roll if needed.
Place on a baking tray and carefully brush the tops with milk, taking care not to drip any down the sides.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy with jam and cream.