South-Indian chicken soup

This is my great-grandmother’s recipe. I think it was passed down to her from her mother or grandmother, but this is how far back I’ve been able to trace it. When a recipe dates back almost 120 years, you know it’s special. The sense of nostalgia and comfort that this aromatic hot bowl of soup induces is soul satisfying in every sense of the term.

I very fondly remember spending my holidays at my great-grandmother’s colossal 12,000 sq ft single storey home which comprised of vast open spaces and courtyards, that during the summer months doubled as a drying pad for spices, chillies, and onions and as a playground of sorts for me and my cousins.

About the recipe..this is not like any chicken soup you’ve had. There are no carrots, leeks, or celery to form its base (I don’t think they even formed a part of India’s agricultural produce back then!) That was a time when everything they ate was grown in their own farms, or foraged in the surrounding fields. An era when families that owned land would sow their own paddy, harvest and mill it, before storing it until the next harvest season. Those that had a more bountiful crop would even gratuitously donate the excess to the farmers who tended their farmlands.  Some – including my ancestors – even bred their own cows for the milk, and chickens and goats for their meat. A lot has changed since then, some good, some bad, but I get the sense that we may have missed out on the charm of a simpler life.

The spices in this soup – garlic, cumin, curry leaves, and peppercorns are fiery, but as with all recipes, you can add as much or little as you’d prefer. The soup itself is made with chicken pieces, but you could alternatively use only the bones which would still give you a rich stock. I can attest that this is just as delicious! I managed to save a bowlful which I eked out by adding rice into and making it a meal in itself. So good!

The recipes that were passed down through my great-grandmother have always been special to us, even more so after her passing. The curries that we make today still have the same blend of spices, the laddus the same proportion of ghee and sugar, and it’s obvious that our love for cooking hasn’t skipped any generation in between. I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as I did growing up, and still do with my own family.

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CHICKEN AND SOBA NOODLE SOUP

I recently discovered the joys of Japanese Soba (buckwheat) noodles. I’d eaten it several times at restaurants, but only recently found out that a speciality store I frequent stocked them.

If there was one term that I could use to describe this dish, I think ‘restorative’ would be it. The noodles, made from buckwheat flour have this certain huskiness about them that your brain immediately classifies as being good for you. Which it is, but you actually feel like you’re nourishing your body from within. Also, the fact that there was no oil used in this recipe speaks for itself. But get this..Soba noodles are chock full of proteins and fibre, fat-free, cholesterol-free AND gluten-free. It’s a superhero amongst the noodle clan. The silent protector, the watchful guardian..the dark (brown) knight.

This was my first attempt at the elusive chicken soup, but I was very happy with the results I got, and so, confident enough to brag blog and share with you. Happy slurping!

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