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Country Captain

Photo: Robbie Caponetto

Hands-on time 50 mins
Total time 2 hrs, 15 mins

Makes 4 servings

This chicken dish, infused with the curry flavor of garam masala, coriander, and turmeric, originated in the port city of Savannah, the result of the spice trade and a naval captain's memories of India. Asha Gomez's Country Captain demonstrates the interconnectedness of southern India and Atlanta--her two Souths.


  • 1 (3- to 4-lb.) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried currants, divided
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can whole, peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons cane syrup
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • Cooked white long-grain rice

How to Make It

  1. Sprinkle chicken with 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper. Cook chicken, skin side down, in hot oil in a 5-qt. Dutch oven over medium heat, turning once or twice, about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer chicken pieces to a platter, reserving 2 Tbsp. drippings in Dutch oven.

  2. Cook chopped yellow onion, next 5 ingredients, and 1/3 cup dried currants in hot drippings over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or until onions are tender.

  3. Stir garam masala, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper into onion mixture, and cook, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes or until spices are toasted. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, and cane syrup. Cover and reduce heat to low.

  4. Preheat oven to 350°. Simmer mixture in Dutch oven over low heat, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes or until mixture thickens into a chunky sauce. Add chicken pieces, pressing gently to submerge in sauce; cover.

  5. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour or until chicken is tender. Sprinkle with almonds and remaining 1/3 cup currants. Serve chicken and sauce over hot cooked rice.