A recipe for real comfort food: My grandmother’s chicken soup

You won’t find it when you rummage through the crumbled old pages of her notebook – the one she left her notes in; these now yellow and reserved documents contain great recipes like murgh musallam and shami kebabs. But one of the most heartwarming legacies left by my paternal grandmother is her chicken soup, affectionately called “mulkatawni” at home. This is different from the similar-sounding mulligatawny soup, which is made with chicken broth, lentils, and a sprinkle of rice. (I discovered this when I tried to replicate that feeling of home on a lonely day in a new city – imagine my shock.)

The recipe is as simple as it is delicious and although I can give you an approximation of the ingredients, we learned it the old-fashioned way: a pinch of this, a handful of that; he had to look and smell good to be right. No how to save the leftovers of this soup, but ask anyone in “the family” and they’ll churn it from memory.

Saroj Nandkeolyar
Image Credit: Supplied

Over the years, whenever we were sick, had a cold, or lacked comfort, it was this hot drink that was ladled out in huge bowls half-filled with rice. A squeeze of lemon later, it was ready to eat.

It’s pretty light on the stomach too; it goes from the esophagus to the stomach, soothing all the way. I learned this firsthand when I had mumps at the age of 11 – a viral infection that inflames the salivary glands – I could barely open my mouth and swallowing whole food was out of the question for about a year. week. This hot liquid poured into my feverish mouth was medicine.

It was just one of those things you take for granted, those ubiquitous dishes that are part of the house, handed out at the opportune times – like tea in the morning or lemonade on a hot summer day. I didn’t give it much thought – I just put things together in a jar once in a while for a treat. Then came a visit to the home of a Canadian cousin. A cook by profession, he had returned home delighted one day with his restaurant menu in hand. He had prepared the soup for the executive chef and now it was on the list.

It was a fitting tribute to a woman who loved to cook and comfort. Infused with the flavor of coriander seeds and lemon juice, Chicken Soup is a light drink that will warm your evening and nourish your soul. Try a sip of this…



  • Chicken bone + chicken thigh/leg 150 grams
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • One onion, sliced
  • ½ inch ginger, sliced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 6 cups of water
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • Steamed rice (optional)


  1. Put all the ingredients except the rice and the lemon juice in a pressure cooker. Cook over medium heat until you hear 3-4 hissing sounds. Remove it from the heat and wait for it to cool before opening the stove.
  2. Strain the soup and set aside. Bone the chicken pieces and add the chicken to the soup.
  3. Adjust the seasoning and add a squeeze of lemon.
  4. Half fill a bowl with rice. Add soup to chicken. Eat hot.