Serving
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Country Captain
USA - Southeast, Georgia

Serves
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
6 main  
***
2-1/4 hr  
Yes
This delicious chicken dish is traditional in the American Southeast, particularly in the state of Georgia, but its roots are in India. See Note-9 for historical background - and also Variations and Leftovers. For an English version see Country Captain - English, and for the original Indian version see Country Captain - Anglo-Indian.




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c
Chicken meat (1)  
Flour
Salt
Pepper
-- Vegie mix
Bell Pepper, red
Onion
Garlic
Celery
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can Tomatoes
Raisins golden
Almonds (2)
-- Seasoning
Coriander seed
Curry Powder (3)  
Salt
Pepper, black
Thyme, dry
Cayenne (4)
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Oil for deep fry
Water
Prep   -   (45 min)
  1. Cut CHICKEN into about 1-1/2 to 2 inch chunks. Stay to the high side, as small pieces will make too much sauce.
  2. Mix Flour, Salt and Pepper. Place in a shallow bowl ready to coat chicken.
  3. Blast BELL PEPPER black with your propane torch and brush off skin under running water. Cut into strips about 1/4 inch wide by 1-1/2 inches long.
  4. Chop ONION medium. Crush and chop GARLIC small. Chop CELERY medium. Mix all with Bell Pepper.
  5. Strain TOMATOES from the juice (keeping the juice) and chop fairly small. Return to the juice.
  6. Pour hot water over RAISINS, enough to cover well, and let soak.
  7. Toast ALMONDS to a light golden color in a dry pan or in the oven.
  8. Grind CORIANDER and mix all Seasoning items.
Run   -   (1-1/2 hr, depending)
  1. Pat Chicken dry with paper towels so not too much flour will adhere (see Note-5).
  2. In a coverable chicken frier or sauté pan heat Oil at least 1/4 inch deep (see Note-6). Dust Chicken pieces lightly in Flour mix. Shake off all excess and fry in batches over moderately high heat until golden (the chicken will not be cooked through). Control heat to not burn any flour that falls off the chicken. Drain chicken on paper toweling and set aside. This will take 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Pour off all but 1-1/2 T of the oil. Stir in the Onion mix and fry stirring over medium high heat until onions are translucent.
  4. Stir in Spice mix and Tomatoes (including juice). Fry stirring until nearly dry.
  5. Drain Raisins and stir in along with Chicken and Water. Simmer covered another 30 to 45 minutes, stirring now and then, until chicken is cooked through and tender. Adjust liquid as needed - not too dry.
  6. Serve hot, sprinkled with Almonds and with plenty of steamed long grain rice.
NOTES:
  1. Chicken:   This weight is for skinless and boneless. You can use bone-in joints, with legs and thighs cut in pieces (use a sharp Chinese cleaver knife driven by a soft faced mallet), but they must be skinless. I use leg and thigh meat for better flavor and texture than the cardboard breast meat we get around here. The smaller the pieces the more sauce you will end up with because the flour coating acts as a thickener.
  2. Almonds:   Properly these are blanched whole almonds dry roasted in a pan kept at around 410°F/210°C, turning almost constantly with a thin metal turner until light golden. You can roast them days in advance (provided you hide them well) but if you're in a hurry, using commercially roasted almonds is acceptable. I've found oven roasting less than satisfactory because:   a) here in Sunny Southern California we don't fire up an oven unless we really need to;   b) they always get forgotten and burn.
  3. Curry Powder:   This should be Madras Curry Powder, an Anglo-Indian invention from the Raj. Use a good brand (Sun or Ship) available in cans in markets. Of course it's better made fresh per our recipe: Madras Curry Powder.
  4. Cayenne:   Actually, I use India extra hot, but it's about the same. 1/4 t gives the recipe a noticeable bite - use your own best judgement.
  5. Flour:   The flour coating the chicken and that adhering to the pan becomes the thickener for the stew. If there is too much, the stew will be too thick and a little bland.
  6. Frying:   In the American South chicken is commonly fried in a deep coverable cast iron pan called a "chicken frier". For large batches I find this tedious and messy, so I deep fry the chicken in a wok or an Indian Kadhai, the ultimate deep frying device. I then start the onion in a coverable sauté pan. Actually, I often do the chicken frying a day ahead and refrigerate until needed.
  7. Variations:   There are many minor variations. Currants or black raisins may be used. Some recipes do not fry the chicken but simmer it. This is easier and reduces calories but also reduces flavor and seriously departs from the original Anglo-Indian recipe. In India chicken and fish are usually fried before using to make a curry. In England the chicken is fried but chicken stock and lemon juice are used instead of tomatoes. There are many variations there too.
  8. Leftovers:   Break up the chicken a bit and use it as pasta sauce or similar. Delicious!
  9. Historical Notes:   Some claim this dish was invented by a chef in Pennsylvania. This is highly unlikely since conceptually similar dishes of this name exist in the American Southeast, England and India. Also, the name would be meaningless in Pennsylvania. Savannah Georgia was once a major port of entry for the spice trade, with most of the spices coming from India. This dish is probably named for captains of India based ships called "country ships" during the Raj, thus "Country Captain". It could also be named after an Indian native serving as a captain in the British army, also a "Country Captain", but its prominence in American and English seaports suggests the nautical origin. Anglo-Indian Country Captain (as made in India) differs in being a rather dry curry, but it's still fried chicken with curry spices and onions. In England it is made with stock rather than tomato broth and soured with lemon or lime. In keeping with Indian practice, the chicken is skinless and the dish is served with steamed long grain rice. In Georgia and England, it would originally have been Carolina (Patna type) rice, but there's nothing to stop us from serving it with superior Thai Jasmine rice. Carolina rice is no longer grown in the Carolinas because the methods used were dependant on slavery. It is now grown in Texas and Louisiana, sold simply as "Long Grain Rice".
  10. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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