Country captain made with tofu
Updated: Jul 11, 2020
A classical southern chicken dish made vegan! Tofu, peppers, raisins and almonds in a curry sauce. Just delish! Vegan, gluten free, oil free.
There are foods that taste really good. Then there are foods that have, along with the great taste, some really interesting story behind them. Country captain is one like that!
It’s classically a stew made with browned chicken, curry spices and some vegetables. It’s a popular dish served in the southern places like Savannah, Georgia and the low-country area of South Carolina. The name is amusing enough to intrigue one, huh? There is some really fascinating history behind it!
This hearty chicken stew, though widespread in south of the USA today, actually originated in India when it was ruled by the British. That explains the usage of curry spices in it! British merchants were into spice trade at that time. Their trade somehow got the name “country trade”. So, their ships were named “country ships”. Masters or captains of those ships were hence called “country captains”. Now, one of the British spice traders introduced this curried chicken dish to the port cities of southern USA. Georgia and South Carolina both claim it was them! But let’s not get into that debate!
The delectable dish was well loved by the southerners here and they lovingly named it ‘country captain’ because of who it came from. As time went, the low-country home cooks modified their favorite country captain with their own twists. Added ingredients, heritage and love of their own kitchen and made it “theirs”.
The colorful story of country captain doesn’t end there! History tells that this dish was served to president Franklin. D. Roosevelt in Warm springs, Georgia. The president loved the dish so much that it became a regular in his menu-card. Country captain got an entry in the Junior League cookbooks and became a staple during the 1950s and 60s. Legend tells it was also a favorite dish of General Patton!
Apart from all the flamboyant lore, country captain tastes so yummy that I thought I had to veganize it. Not eating chicken could not be the reason to miss this scrumptious of a dish after all!
So, I replaced the chicken with tofu, crisped up for a nice texture. Also, though parsley and thyme are the 'usual' herbs used in this food, my best friend (who is a Brit) claims that cilantro must be added to it! Well, the food actually was disseminated by the British rulers of then India, so you can’t argue with that! And, the guy knows his food history alright! So, I did add cilantro in it (you happy, Ben?) and I’m glad that I did!
Okay, so there was all the tales and romances. You charmed enough to give it a try? Great! Here’s the recipe for you.
About the dish :
Course – Entrée
Servings – 4
Difficulty level – Easy
Recipe type – Vegan, gluten free, oil free.
Does it keep –Keeps in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
What you need :
1 x 14 oz pack of firm tofu
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons chickpea flour (you can use all purpose flour if gluten is not a concern)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 x 1” knob of ginger, minced
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 serrano chili, chopped (optional)
1 medium carrot (or half of a large one), sliced
1 large bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1.5 tablespoons curry powder
Pinch of garam masala (optional)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons dry parsley (or ¼ cup fresh, minced)
¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon dry thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped (or slivered) almonds, toasted
Salt and pepper to taste
What you do :
1. Drain and press the tofu. You can see here how to do that.
2. Set oven to 400◦F/200◦C/gas mark 6.
3. Cut the block of tofu into cubes. Toss with vinegar, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Then add the chickpea flour and toss to lightly coat.
4. Spread the tofu cubes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in one layer and roast in the oven for 12-15 minute or until golden brown. Stir them once at the mid-point. Alternatively, you can cook them in an air-fryer, at 300◦F/150◦C for 10-12 minutes. Set the tofu aside.
5. Put a skillet on medium heat and add a little water to it. Sauté your garlic and ginger. If you are not oil free, you can use any oil you want.
6. Now add the onion, celery, serrano chili and carrots. Sauté them until lightly brown. Don’t forget to stir them frequently.
7. Add bell pepper and tomato. Cook until tomatoes are softened and almost melted.
8. Now add 2-3 tablespoons of water and add the tomato paste. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
9. Add tofu cubes. Add curry powder, garam masala (if using), thyme, cilantro and parsley. Mix well.
10. Season with salt and pepper. Add raisins. Add enough water to just cover the veggies and tofu (about 2 cups).
11. Put the lid on and cook on medium heat until the sauce thickens (25-30 minutes).
12. Mix in the almonds.
13. Garnish with minced cilantro or parsley and serve with rice.
Nutritional info per serving (without rice) :
Calories – 211 Cal
Carbohydrate – 22 g
Protein – 12 g
Fat – 9 g
Saturated fat – 1 g
Sugar – 9 g
Sodium – 51 mg
Dietary fiber – 8 g
It’s homey, it’s hearty. It’s like comfort and love served in a bowl! You can serve it over rice, or with mashed potatoes. Have a side of fried okra or pickled vegetables. Any way you choose to eat it, it’s so unique in taste and heritage that you’ll have to nod to the experience, salute it, and say “Aye aye, country captain”!
Do you have any questions? Any feedback after you’ve made it? I’d surely like to hear from you! Feel free to comment below.
5/1/2020, at 6.17 AM
Interesting history and interesting recipe, I can't wait to give it a try. 👍
5/1/2020, at 10.11 AM
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!
Ooh Roy says
7/11/2020, at 9.52 AM
Your country captain is rich in history,story n promise of gastronomic wonders 😍
7/11/2020, at 1.23 PM
Thanks Ooh! Hope you'll like the taste too.