Feel Better Broth – Indian Penicillin

Kids soup4

There are two things in the world that’s worth falling sick for. This broth is one of them, the other being someone else making it, just for you. If however, you do not have persons whose benevolence you can take advantage of in such drastic situations (like your ma), then, like most women (your ma included), it is a case of  self-medication. And an easy one at that. Simply chuck a bird and some aromatics into the pot, and let it do its work, while you curl up somewhere cosy and indulge in a little, private woe-is-me. Or is that just me?

Crush some garlic and ginger. Roughly chop an onion. Dig out some cardomom, cassia (or cinnamon) sticks, freshly crushed black peppercorns and cloves. Throw them into the water with a small chicken around the kilo-ish mark. Let it come to the boil, gently and leave the bird to get cooked and infused with the flavours. Once the bird is cooked, take it out, take the meat off the bones and return the bones to the now golden brown stock and let it continue to simmer until reduced down and tasting very chicken-y.

Now the part that really makes this sing, and gives it a deep savoury flavour is the tempering. A small, finely sliced onion is sauteed in ghee (yes, ghee) until golden, then a handful of pungent, nutty curry leaves are thrown in to splutter (oh the aroma!)  and the whole is then poured into the strained broth. Leave it for 10 minutes to infuse before serving.

Memory is funny in the way it gets triggered. Although I love this soup, take deep comfort in its familiarity, I haven’t made it for the last seven years. You could argue that it’s a good sign of my general well-being but I can’t help but berate myself for the lapse. The sight of my children’s streaming noses somehow brought this broth out of the depths of my sleep deprived mind, and I set out to make it, immediately.

It may not be a pretty bowl of broth to look at, the tempering rendering it a muddy sort of colour, but, the earthy sweetness of cassia, the perfume of cardamon , the throat warming spiciness of the peppercorns and the savouriness of the curry leaves cannot but revive, soothe and heal. If you have a bit of stale, good, real bread knocking about to dunk into this delicious elixir, it would be the very thing.

Rice cooked in this stock takes on another level. I made a meal out of the stock, boiling rice and some carrots in it, warming the tender chicken and finishing off with fresh coriander and a touch of lemon juice. If you like to, a bit of ridiculously finely chopped red chilli, could be added at the end, and left for a few minutes to infuse. Dhal’s too, cooked in this stock, would taste amazing.

My kids gobbled this up, and it is so satisfying as a mother, to pass on the good things, that my own ma gave me. This is Feel Better Broth, in every sense.

To view and print recipe, click here.

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51 thoughts on “Feel Better Broth – Indian Penicillin

  1. Jes

    I have never been tempted to make my own stock until now. Thank you, this looks (and your wonderful writing makes it sound) absolutely amazing.

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Thankyou Jes. I adore making my own stock, be it a full on Indian one like this which is to be eaten as a soup, or a milder, herby one for general cooking. I’ll admit, it makes me feel quite smug!

  2. jobakes

    My Carrie, you are a fine chopper – look at those onions! And I adore your soup bowl, that’s beautiful. I make chicken soup like my nan made than my mum tried to emulate – this looks far better and adding the rice in just completes the “Indian” vibe to this Jewish penicillin. My family went in a more oriental direction with our ingredients but I much prefer the sounds of yours. One small chook inscribed on my shopping list – this will be made very soon 🙂

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Thankyou for the compliment on my chopping skills. I took pains to get this one looking even LOL! I don’t think there is a bad way to make or have chicken broth, do you? But this one is particularly special to me.

      1. jobakes

        Oh I don’t think mine was bad – just not superb. Deffo will make this very soon – once pay day comes and I can afford a decent chicken (yes I know, I’m spoiled being able to get quality fowl here – lol, that sounds funny!).

        Your bowl *is* Peter Rabbit isn’t it? I had a full set of Peter Rabbit crockery as a wee girl and my nan would give me her chicken soup in the mug. It is one of my good memories of her. I adored Peter and had all the books as well as the bootiful children’s dinner service for one!

        1. thePatternedPlate

          Yes it is Peter Rabbit 🙂 Both my kids got their own dinner service by close friends of husband’s parents. Isn’t it lovely? I had to snap quickly as wee boy was by my side howling for food…as always!

            1. thePatternedPlate

              Much as I love the fact that he eats, it can be exhausting! I am inevitably always in the kitchen and I really have to control his portions! He eats the same portion size as his 5 yeaer old sister! And he’s only two! And then of course, there’s snacks and drinks, and fruit, and ……

  3. cookingscraps

    This is ACTUALLY ON MY STOVE as we speak! I can’t wait for the aroma to start wafting from the pot, not to mention the actual eating of it tomorrow… although, I may have to nab a bite tonight before cooling it.

      1. cookingscraps

        Well, I have done everything up to the curry leaves. I had everything else at my disposal fortunately (really, it was perfect, I had a small chicken I wanted to use in my refrigerator, but didn’t quite know what to do with it). I think I may have to settle for basil leaves, but I’m going to add the tempering spices before serving it this evening. Thanks for posting! My house smelled great last night!

  4. Sam-I-am

    Beautiful Carrie, on every level! I do a traditional ‘Jewish Penicilin Chicken Soup’ version but this sounds even better! Must ask, as my recipe makes me skim the dirty froth the chicken yields into the broth as it boils away, and its makes me do that constantly to insure a see-through golden stock at the end of it, do you not do that in your version? I know my hubby will just LOVE this recipe as he likes broth based soups and he loves spice, so…….. 🙂
    As always, beautiful writting, photography and whole. A league of your own…. 😉

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Aww thanks Sam! And yes, I do skim the muck off every time, but in this case, the caramelisation of the onions and curry leaves added to the stock, will leave the golden broth a bit murky and that can’t be helped unfortunately. Still tastes delicious! If you do try it Sam, let me know how it goes, and if hubby likes it! Or not!

  5. Thanh @ eat, little bird

    Beautiful post, as ever! I guess there is a version of “Jewish Penicillin” in every culture, my favourite being, of course, the Vietnamese version. And I’m interested to find that you also cook rice in this broth, producing something quite similar to what the Vietnamese/Chinese make called “congee”. This looks very hearty and welcoming 🙂

    And I agree with Jodie – you’re knife skills leave me a bit embarrassed about my own, LOL!

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Congee is next on the list Thanh. And here is a snippet of info for you. Congee is very similar to the word Kunji (Kuhn-jee) in Malayalam, which is basically boiled rice gruel. And something given when ill, as the starch and simple carbs are easy on the tummy. Like you said there are versions of the same basics the world over! And there’s comfort in that thought 🙂

  6. Big Hungry Gnomes Food Blog

    This looks delicious. Did you serve it up in a Beatrix Potter bowl? Whenever I was feeling really ill as a child, my mum would cook tomato soup and I’d have it out of my Peter Rabbit bowl as a special treat. Just seeing the lines from the stories around your bowl made me feel all warm and cosy inside, and the chicken soup looks like it would have the same effect as the childhood tomato soup, making you feel much better with every spoonful.

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Yes I did serve it in the Beatrix Potter Bowls 🙂 I don’t use them just for ‘special’ times, my kids tend to get something good in them everyday! I didn’t have time to set up a shot as it were, so i just snapped the bowls the kids were getting their tea in 😉

      So lovely of your mum to make it a bit of a treat like that..especially when you’re poorly. Mum’s have the subtle touch, no?

  7. bettybobkin

    I’m not sure how I missed this – perhaps my eye glimpsed the word Indian and quickly skated past, subliminally fearing certain flavourings. However, I imagine the soup could be tempered to one’s taste and palate, even if it made it less authentic.

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Absolutely Liz, without question. If you can handle black peppercorns, then a wee bit in there is needed, to give a depth and warmth in a background. For me, the curry leaves make this broth, but if y ou can’t get a hold of it (forget freeze dried ones…useless) then don’t worry too much. If you do find it and I did at Tesco’s then freeze the excess..

  8. Joost Poort

    Keep taking deep breaths 🙂 There is not one ingredient in this recipe I don’t love so I’m sure this will be perfect. Looking forward to this!

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Taking? Swallowing more like hahah! It is the eternal struggle of having a food blog. While I am thrilled that someone is trying a recipe, particularly my own (arhem or my mother’s, same difference), I am also petrified of the result!

  9. Joost Poort

    Made it and loved it! I’m a sucker for any kind of chicken soup but this really is something special. The spices don’t really add heat, just depth of flavour so you’ll be fine, Liz. Definitely a keeper!

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Thanks so much for coming back and posting Joost. Appreciate it. And am relieved and thrilled you like it as much as I do. And you are perfectly right. This is all about the flavour. Cheers!

  10. Meenakshi

    I LOVE onions tempered in ghee. Anything cooked in ghee, actually. And it is unfortunate that so many Indian broths and curries look kind of unappealing, because they taste great. I love your blog!!!

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Thanks Meenakshi! And agreed, heart attack potential aside, anything fried in ghee is glorious! I LOVe have ghee, sugar, small bananas with Puttu. Has been entirely too long since I had some!
      I actually find our meat based curries particularly hard to photograph, brown being a difficult colour in that regard. Thank goodness for the fresh, green, brightness of coriander leaves!

  11. Pingback: Recipe List By The Patterned Plate » sotoyo.com | sotoyo.com

  12. erinmotz

    This looks so cozy! Even if I’m NOT sick this makes me want to snuggle on the couch with a fleece blanket, put on my ugly pajamas, and just enjoy in front of my favorite TV show. 😉

    1. The Patterned Plate

      The broth after tempering? I’d say yes, but the flavours will dull. If you want, freeze the stock and then temper when you need to with a bit of onion and curry leaves – freshens up the stock too, after freezing.

      If you meant the whole thing with the rice and carrots, definitely yes. Leave out the coriander 🙂

      1. Jenny

        Hey! Thanks so much for getting back to me so quick! I thought as much with freezing the stock. You can never be with out good stock 🙂 Thanks so much, can’t WAIT to make this soup

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