What to Cook Right Now

Consider country captain for dinner and pineapple-ginger coffee cake for dessert.

By Sam Sifton

Good morning. Happy Presidents’ Day. Ligaya Mishan had a lovely essay on the origins of country captain in The Times last week, tracing the fragrant, curried chicken dish from its home in the Lowcountry of the American South to its origins in Britain and India, “a legacy of colonials with palates newly awakened to the possibilities of spice.”

I’m intrigued by Ligaya’s recipe (above), which comes from Rohan Kamicheril, the founder and editor of Tiffin, a website devoted to the regional cuisines of India. Kamicheril grew up eating country captain in Bangalore, his mother’s recipe, handed down by his grandmother, who was of Anglo-Indian descent. There are none of the soupy tomatoes that define the dish in America, only the juice and fat of the chicken, spice-darkened onions, golden potatoes. It’s a dish meant to be eaten right away. I can’t wait to do that.

Later you can compare it to this recipe I learned from community cookbooks and some of the finest kitchen hands in and around Charleston, S.C. The chicken is fried, then stewed with tomatoes and served over rice with crumbled bacon, slivered almonds and dried currants, occasionally with sliced bananas. It’s very Junior League. Also, super delicious.

Country captain for dinner tonight, then! Maybe with Melissa Clark’s new recipe for pineapple-ginger coffee cake for dessert and tomorrow’s breakfast?

Later this week I want to give over an afternoon and evening to making J. Kenji López-Alt’s new recipe for braised lamb shanks with barley and greens. And after a night off — a simple Greek salad, say? — I’d like to make Genevieve Ko’s latest gem, roasted orange chicken.

Will there be time this week for scallion pancakes with squid? For salmon burgers? For mushroom Bourguignon? I sure hope so.

There are many thousands more recipes to cook right now waiting for you on New York Times Cooking. It’s true that you need a subscription to access them. Subscriptions are what makes this whole exercise possible. I am so thankful to you for yours. And if you haven’t yet taken the plunge, I hope you will subscribe today. Thank you.

Even more cooking inspiration awaits you on our social media channels — primarily on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram. (I post some of that myself: @samsifton.)

And we are standing by to help, should something go wrong in your kitchen or with our technology. Just write [email protected] and someone will get back to you. (If not, write to me: [email protected] I can take a punch. I read every letter sent.)

Now, it’s a long drive over rough terrain from anything to do with celery root or maple syrup, but I loved Alexandra Jacobs’s wry review, in The Times, of “Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies,” by Laura Thompson.

Equally entertaining is Molly Young’s recommendation, in her Read Like the Wind newsletter, of Han Suyin’s 1962 novella “Winter Love.” “This rec goes out to all my lesbian zoologists,” Molly wrote. “Make some noise, ladies!” Others will thrill to the prose as well. (I found a copy online for about $12.)

Check out the Chris Martin show at the Anton Kern Gallery in New York, with its big Brooklyn-in-the-Catskills energy. (Roberta Smith likes it!)

Finally, Richard Fausset put me on to William Beckmann’s cover of “Volver, Volver,” which Beckmann played live in Texas last year. Listen to that, cook a lot, and I’ll be back on Wednesday.

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