October 24, 2010

'That' Chicken soup

Chicken soup

It has been a bad day for starters. Gray clouds, the rain has been poring since last evening. My little sons and I are down with a bad cold. Allergies probably, due to the weather change. Living in the northwest, this climate is no surprise.

I need soup, soothing soup, for my soul and for my cold :-). Nostalgia again. Paati (Grandma in Tamil, a south Indian language ) always made this chicken stew/soup (as she called it) for us when I was a child. We would visit her house very often, for tuition. She never taught, it was her husband. She was one awesome cook. Thaatha (grandpa) was retired. He was brilliant in English and Math. A book lover, he was a  fan of Agatha Christie. I cant remember one thing he was not good at. He'd get us lots of books, take us on long walks. The picnics were so much fun. In summer, he would make it a point to take us (We were a bunch of kids ranging from 4 to 12 year old) on Sunday picnics. Paati would make yummy mutton biriyani, and liver meat curries, fish fries, dripping with oil, yet so mouthwatering! It was all that we needed :-) A break from studies, picnics by the rivers, and heavenly food.

Back to gray clouds and a bad cold now, when you have cranky kids with runny noses, they refuse to eat, yes every mom knows that. But you make this soup, and they just chow down!. Just by the aroma, they ask me " Is it THAT chicken soup?"..lol "That" meaning, not-spicy :-)

This is what I use: (Serves 6 )
The following vegetables, all chopped finely: 1 onion, 1 tomato, 1tsp fresh ginger, 1tsp fresh garlic, 1 small bunch scallions.
4-6 dry red whole chillies
1tsp black pepper seeds
1tsp jeera (cumin)
2tsp soy sauce
1tsp vinegar
Powders: 1/2tsp turmeric powder, 1/2tsp pepper powder, 1/2tsp jeera powder, 1tsp or more salt.
1 or 1 and 1/2 cup boneless chicken (you may use boned too)
1tsp olive oil

In a saucepan/cooker, on low heat, add the olive oil, toss in the red chillies, pepper, cumin, chopped ginger garlic, let it brown a bit, turn the heat up a notch, add onions, stir it to a golden brown, add the tomatoes and half the scallions. Let it roast a minute, add in the boneless chicken cut into cubes.

Let it stand on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, Once the edges of the chicken start to cook, pour the soy sauce and vinegar, then add in all the powders. Let that cook for about 2 minutes. Now add water,about 2-3 cups for a dilute runny soup( this depends on how dilute you want it). Cook it on low to medium heat for about 30 minutes. If you pressure cook it, then just 10 minutes.

Serve the soup hot, really hot. (For kids, remember to take out the red chillies and pepper seeds) Personally, when I am sick, I like it as a stew with soft rice ( soft as in, really soft steamy rice, that is coarsely mashed up). It is warm and soothing when its swallowed down an itchy throat. The steam and aroma, is the perfect therapy for a bad cold. There will be many more of these soup pots, in the coming wet months. Enjoy!