Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Indian style Hot and Sour Chicken Soup

It has been a while since my last post. This blog is my me-me time, something I enjoy doing. Like always my me-me time is a last priority and sometimes it never features in that list. But today is a unique day, a combination of sick children, rain and a desire to cook something as cure to all - a comfort food basically, landing on Sig’s wonderful blog and her JFI Tamarind event. I decided to try something different with my comfort food – Chicken soup. When someone has a cold at home, my first recourse is to make crab curry and after that chicken soup. We had crab curry last Sunday, but the coughs and colds are still around. For the JFI-tamarind event, I decided to make a spicy hot and sour chicken soup and yes the sourness in the soup comes from tamarind.

Tamarind is one of the key ingredients in Tamil cuisine. Coming to think of it all vegetable gravies (kuzhambu) have tamarind as their main ingredient. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that tamarind has influenced the way the Tamil cuisine has evolved. The thought of experimenting with tamarind has not occurred to me before and thanks to the JFI event started by the amazing Indira of Mahanandi and hosted this time by the lovely Sig of Live to Eat for giving me a chance to try and share this. The results were very good and the soup was what I needed on a rainy summer’s day. Now many can dispute with me, if it really is summer in this part of the world. But that is a different story.

Chicken stock:

For making chicken soups, I believe in making my own stock. I save up all the bones in the freezer for making stock. When I don’t have enough bone, I use some chicken thighs or small whole chickens to make the stock. Place the chicken bones/thighs, 3 big onions quartered, a bulb of garlic, 2 carrots cut into chunks, a bay leaf, few pepper corn, a sprig of coriander leaves, some spring onions in a stock pot and cover it with water. Bring the stock to a boil and skim away the bits you get on the top. Then reduce the fire and let the stock simmer for a couple of hours. Drain the stock using a sieve. The stock lasts for 3 days in the fridge or you can freeze the stock for later use.

For the soup:

  1. Onion chopped – 1
  2. Tomatoes – 1.
  3. Ginger – 1 inch
  4. Garlic – 4 pods
  5. Peppercorn – 1 Tbsp
  6. Cumin – 1 Tbsp
  7. Fennel – 1 Tbsp
  8. Curry leaves – a sprig
  9. Tamarind – size of a small lime.
  10. Chicken – 100 gms.
  11. Oil – 1 sp
  12. salt

Soak the tamarind and extract the liquid. To speed up the process, microwave the tamarind on high with some water for a minute. Then mix some cold water to this and extract the liquid.

Grind the peppercorn, cumin and fennel in a blender. Chop the onions finely, and cut the tomatoes so that you get eight pieces out of it. Finely chop the ginger and garlic.

Heat oil in a pan and add the ginger garlic and sauté for a minute. To this add onions, curry leaves and tomatoes and sauté till the onions are soft. If you like your soup hot, increase the amount of peppercorns. Add the chicken and sauté until the chicken is sealed. Add some water to this mixture and then add the powdered spices. To this add the tamarind extract. Let it come to a bubble. To this add a liter of chicken stock and season with salt. Let it come to a boil and cook until the chicken is cooked. You can garnish with coriander leaves if desired.

Serve with some bread. It will warm your heart as one of my little solider says.