Saturday, August 29, 2009

oh captain my captain

It's dim, rainy, and chilly today, and country captain seemed like the perfect remedy.

Country Captain

Country captain is the curry of the South, a dish that owes its origins to the spice ports of the Low Country.  I've always seen it made with tomatoes or a tomato sauce, though I don't think that's universal.  For me, though, it's chicken on the bone, browned in a pan and then braised in a sauce of tomato, curry powder, onions, and raisins.  Everything else is optional.

Lately, for curry powder I've been using the Vadouvan blend from the Spice House.  You're probably a big fan of Penzey's for your mail order spice needs.  I totally understand.  I love Penzey's, and their curry powders, especially the rogan josh, are among their selling points.  I placed an order to the Spice House instead -- run by the brother of the owner of Penzey's, if I have that right -- because they had cassia buds and Penzey's didn't, and I've stuck with the Spice House since.  Their white truffle salt is a welcome addition to my kitchen, and the chili con carne seasoning is excellent.

So the sauce is garden tomatoes, pureed and strained and cooked until thick, with onions, a few cayenne peppers from my yard, Vadouvan curry powder, golden raisins, and a couple additions -- chopped sweetened dried hibiscus flowers, and chopped fresh apricots.  The tomato-raisin combination has always made country captain a sort of sweet/sour dish for me, so the additions add to that.  Some fresh peas and scallions would have been a good addition; I didn't have any.

Trader Joe's, where I got the hibiscus, is a good source for dried fruit.  Because of their "discontinue everything that isn't a bestseller" business model, anything you see today may not be there tomorrow, but they always have SOME kind of dried fruit (they did not have any more of the hibiscus last time I was there), often things you won't find other places -- dried orange slices, freeze-dried rambutan (terrific), dried dragonfruit, etc.

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