Saturday, December 3, 2011

Country Captain Chicken

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So all this silence on this space makes one wonder if all is well. It has been a busy 3 weeks, and the way it looks, it is going get only busier. Between work, partying and family commitments, I wonder if there will be any time left for anything else. We had the grill out for the first time this year, and, even though I had not found any time to give any thought to what I will prepare. it turned out pretty fine. The tangri kababs, grilled sole, multani paneer tikkas and grilled jacket potatoes just flew and I was left wondering if I should have got more stuff.
In the meanwhile my better half launched her own housekeeping service in Delhi. I had to provide support in terms of the website and facebook microsite. With that done, it was just the numerous festivals and parties that kept me on my toes.
The changing weather also bought a lot of wildlife out. I saw some amazing out of birds in my garden from time to time. Some were clicked, some just remained in my memory.
I cooked up loads during the time period and one was Country Captain Chicken. It is a true Southern American dish, but if you roam around India, you can come across different versions of this dish where only the name and the main ingredient is the common link. Even the version by Jiggs Kalra mentioned in his book, Zaike Ka Safar is so different. A lot of people might mistake it to be an Indian dish, but it is an American dish with influences from India. As the story goes, The dish was enjoyed by British officers in India, and over the years, it made its way to Port of Savannah, an important port for spice trade through a British Sea Captain.  Since then the recipe has undergone many changes, from a basic chicken and curry powder stew to a mature wholesome dish consisting of other ingredients like raisins and tomatoes. Even in the US, different versions abound. I chose the recipe provided by Lee Bros. on the Food Network site, with a few tweaks (visit the Food Network site for the original).

Country Captain Chicken

Serves - 4


Chicken - drumsticks, diced thigh pieces - 1 Kg 
Chicken stock - 1/2 Cup
Bacon, chopped - 120 gms
Garlic - 3 cloves
Ginger, grated - 2 Tblsp
Onions, finely chopped - 2 cups
Yellow Bell Peppers, diced - 2 cups
Carrots, peeled and sliced into roundels - 2 Cups
Dried red chillies. seeds removed - 1
Tomatoes, blanched and concassed - 3 cups
Curry Powder - 1 Tblsp
Garam Masala - 1 Tblsp
Raisins- 1/2 cup
Salt-  To Taste
Freshly ground black pepper - 1/2 Tsp
Almonds,Slivered, toasted and chopped- 1/2 cup
Parsley, chopped - 1/2 cup


1. Cover the raisins in warm chicken stock and keep aside.
2. Take a stew pot or handi and hear a tsp of oil. Add in the bacon pieces. Cook till it is golden brown, stirring the pieces occasionally to evenly color them. Strain and keep aside.
3. Take some of the fat from the handi and reserve.
4. Add in the chicken pieces to the handi and brown the pieces lightly. Take out and reserve.
5. Add in the dried red chili and toast the chili in fat for about 30 seconds.
6. Add in the onion and garlic cloves. Cook for two minutes or till onions start to turn translucent.
7.Add in the carrots and bell peppers. Cook until they soften (5-6 minutes). Incase the ingredients in the pot are becoming dry add in the reserve bacon fat that we had taken out initialy.
8. Add in the grated ginger, tomatoes and curry powder, garam masala, salt and black pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes.
9. Add in the raisins with the chicken stock. Cook on a low flame till tomatoes are cooked and the sauce thickens.
10. Add in the chicken pieces. Cover the pot with foil.
11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
12. Transfer the pot to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.
13. Remove the foil and bake further until sauce has thickened.
14. Garnish with reserved bacon, almonds and parsley.
15. Serve hot over rice.


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