2018 is out of the gate with a bang!  Our Employee Appreciation Party was a huge success.  It was such an honor to recognize our employees and team members and their milestones with the company.  I hope you all enjoyed the food.  Your management team really wants you to have an opportunity for new tastes and experiences.  I loved the pizza oven!

We are working diligently on the remodel of Little Gardens this first quarter.  All rooms will be touched, including the back porch with a new ceiling and the kitchen with a cooler/freezer expansion.  The bar will also get a face-lift (I hope me too).  Lots of painting, new drapes, furnishings, rugs and lighting are rounding out the projects.  We should be finished by the end of April.  I hope you like it!


East Meets South

I’ve had the great privilege of traveling to India with our very own Chef de Cuisine, Sandra, in search of Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken.  (Along the way we found the Taj Mahal.)

We were traveling with a group of about 10 people.  Our tour leader hooked us up with a culinary team at a restaurant in Udaipur.  There, we had a full demonstration and cooking lesson on Chicken Tikka, cooked in a tandoori oven, and the rice dish, Biryani.


At our lodge at the National Panna Tiger Reserve, the chef presented a meticulous demonstration on the spices of India.  What did we learn?  At the end of the day, there are no real recipes for Indian dishes.  They don’t measure like we do and every dish has a million variations depending on what spices you like and how hot you want the dish. 

But, every Indian meal must have these four accompaniments:  Pickled ginger, chutney or onion, chili pepper (in the dish), lemon and bread such as poppadum, naan or roti.  Some regions add rice as a fifth.

I did give it a try eating with my fingers, but, not so much for me.  But it was nice the way they come around and wash your hands after you eat.  (He wouldn’t do my feet…)

Thali was very popular at our organized meals.  Thali is a Hindi word that means "a large plate." In recent years, the meaning of the term has expanded.   It has also become the commonly used expression for a style of eating in India.

With that in mind, Thali, the meal, refers to many different dishes (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian), served in small bowls called (Katori in Hindi) arranged on a Thali, or a large platter. In short, Thali is an entire meal on a single, huge plate.  I think it is popular because there’s a little bit of something for everyone, from vegetarian to poultry to lamb (which was really goat), with varying degrees of heat in each dish.  And not to forget the essentials, a flatbread, rice, pickled onion and lemon are also included.


There is NO “how now, brown cow” to be had in India.  The cow is truly sacred and there is a civil penalty if you kill one, even accidently.  And the cows are everywhere, on the streets, on the highways, on the sidewalks and the shopping areas!  The “hamburgers” were always chicken patties.


As most of you would know, we have a little bit of India on our Divine menus.  Savannah Country Captain.  I grew up eating this dish.  I loved hanging with Edith (my mother) in the kitchen when she would make it because it’s such a bountiful dish and the aroma of the spices cooking was intriguing.

For those of you who’ve not had an opportunity to try it at one of our events, Country Captain is a curried chicken and rice dish, which is popular in the Southern United States. It was introduced to the U.S. through Charleston, Savannah, New York and Philadelphia, but has origins in India.  It is a dish that originated in India as a simple spatchcock poultry or game recipe involving onions and curry.  Her version also call for tomatoesgarlic, and bell peppers and she would always add almonds and golden raisins at the end of stewing.  The dish is served over white rice.

As for the origins of the dish in the South, one theory is that an early 19th-century British sea captain, possibly from the East India Company, working in the spice trade introduced it to the American South via the port of Savannah. The dish remains popular amongst the communities in Mumbai, India.  The "country" part of the dish's name dates from when the term referred to things of Indian origin instead of British, and so the term "country captain" would have meant a captain of Indian origin, a trader along the coasts of India.  Others claim that the word "captain" in the title is simply a corruption of the word "capon".  

So my recipes get bastardized a lot in our commissary (Chef Sandra likes to put her “own spin” on everything) but below is the recipe I grew up eating:


2 TBS unsalted butter

2 TBS bacon fat

1 whole chicken cut into 10 pieces (or just buy some thighs & breasts and call it a day!)

2 cups diced yellow onion

2 cups diced celery

2 cups diced green bell pepper

1 fresh hot chili pepper, seeded & minced

1 tsp chopped garlic

Homemade Masala (recipe follows)

2 cans petite diced tomatoes including liquid

1 cup chicken stock

2 bay leaves

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup toasted almond slivers


MASALA (any of a number of spice mixtures ground into a paste or powder for use in Indian cooking)

1 tbsp. ground ginger

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. ground cardamom

1/2 tsp. ground tumeric

2 tsp. Hungarian paprika

2 tsp. freshly ground coriander

2 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. freshly ground clove

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 pinch Colman's mustard powder

1 pinch dried thyme



Place large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium heat and melt butter and bacon fat until slightly foaming.  Raise heat, add chicken and brown well on all sides.  Don’t overcrowd pot, cook one layer at a time.  Remove cooked pieces to a platter and finish cooking all pieces.


Lower heat to medium and add the onion, celery, peppers, and garlic, stirring well.  Slowly add masala (or just use curry powder) to suit your taste, stirring well to evenly coat all the vegetables and cook until they are tender.


Add tomatoes with juice, stock and bay leaves.  Stir well scraping the bottom of the pot to deglaze.

Bring liquid to simmer, return chicken to pot, and cover tightly.

Cook on top of the stove over low flame until chicken is cooked through, about 35 to 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the golden raisins and toasted almonds and serve over your favorite rice.


I buy a box of Kitchens of India Butter Chicken Curry paste.

Cook your chicken.  Add the tomatoes and chicken stock.  Stir in the Butter Curry paste.  Simmer till chicken is done.  Add the golden raisins and toasted almonds.  Serve over rice!

धन्यवाद्" (dhanyavaad)! (Thank you very much!)

2017, Main BlogTori HannaA