Damned Colonials, They're at it Again

Friday 3/6/2005

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Diary and Notes

Another great old Raj recipe today and another rant about websites from across the pond trying to claim our cultural heritage as their own - will they never stop?

Today's meal was a classic from the British Raj and recipes for this can be found dating from well over two hundred years ago. There are numerous website out there claiming that this dish is a Southern USA dish which was introduced by a spice trading sea saptain around 1860 and is named after him. No it isn't, the dish is much older than that and although it may have been introduced to America by a sea captain the name predates any American recipe by a long way.

I'm not going to list all the evil websites which seek to trumpet the cultural superiority of the USA like I normally do and in fairness, I realise that these claims are not made out of some deliberate attempt to rewrite culinary history, but more out of a belief in a story which has become myth and is now thought to be true. There is one American website on the history of 'traditional' American dishes that seems to have got it right and I think they deserve a mention and a gold star for truth. WhatsCookingAmerica is well researched and full of interesting titbits - it is also, rather unusually, written with some concept of what goes on outside the shores of the US and even seems to recognise the existence of such piffling little countries as India, China and Russia. Kudos to these people. A few more sites like this and I might stop fuming enough to get my PhD finished.


Oh and the dinner was truly superb. A chicken curry in tomato sauce flavoured with loads of sultanas for sweetness and then thickened with ground almonds. I didn't have any general purpose curry powder so used single spices instead (as I usually do). Most of the American recipes for this dish include thyme. I ignored them and went more Raj style and what a treat it was. Why can't you buy this fantastic dish in restaurants in Britain?

Cake Blog

A Fruit Choux Bun: Very tasty indeed.


  • Chicken Country Captain
  • Basmati Rice
  • Mango Chutney


    Chicken Country Captain
    1 Small (1.5kg Chicken)
    3 Onions
    1 Can Tomatoes
    3 Cloves Garlic
    1 Tbsp Ghee
    50g Sultanas
    25g Almonds
    3 Green Chillis
    2 Black Cardamon Pods
    3 Green Cardamon Pods
    3 Cloves
    3 Bay Leaves
    1 tsp Turmeric
    2 tsp Coriander Powder
    1/2 tsp Fenugreek
    1 tsp Cumin
    1/4 tsp Fennel Seeds
    1/2 tsp Black Pepper
    Few Coriander Leavs
    1 tsp Vegetable Oil


  • Quarter the chicken removing the legs and breasts (on the bone). Use the remainer to boil for stock with a little water. After the stock has been boiling for about 1/2 an hour begin making the country captain.
  • Slice two of the onions and fry until turning brown in the ghee. Add the chicken pieces and brown all over. Next add the garlic, turmeric, chilli powder and other dried spices. When the spices are nicely fried and coating everything add the canned tomatoes (chopped). Put the lid on and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, taste to see if more salt/pepper/chilli/coriander/cumin etc. is needed and add the sultanas and stir in. Keep simmering gently, turning the chicken occasionally and topping up with the bubbling stock every now and again to form a thick sauce (the chicken should be just perfect after another 25 minutes). Before serving, grind the almonds in a mortar and pestle and stir in.
  • Slice the third onion and fry gently until golden brown in a little oil. When the onions are brown layer over the chicken and garnish with fresh chopped green chillis and a little coriander.


    *All quantities are very approximate and for two people