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

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

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

Photo for illustration purposes only.
Image credit: Shutterstock

You will not find it when you rifle through the old crumbling pages of her notebook – the one she left her notes in; the now yellow and earmarked documents have great recipes like murgh musallam and shami kebab. But one of the most comforting legacies my grandmother left behind 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 dash of rice. (I found out when I was trying to repeat the 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 approximate ingredients, we learned it the old-fashioned way: a pinch of this, a handful of it; it had to look right and smell right to be right. There are no remnants of this soup, but ask someone in the ‘family’ and they will rattle it off at the memory.

Saroj Nandkeolyar

Saroj Nandkeolyar
Photo credit: Included

Over the years, when we were sick or cold or in need of comfort, it was this hot beverage that was poured into huge bowls that were half filled with rice. A squeeze of lemon later it was ready for consumption.

It is also quite light on the stomach; it goes from esophagus to stomach, soothing all the way. I learned this first hand when I had mumps when I was 11 – a viral infection that inflames the salivary glands – I could barely open my mouth and it was out of the question to swallow full food for about a week. This hot liquid that came into my feverish mouth was medicine.

It was just one of the things you take for granted, the ubiquitous dishes that are part of the house, handed out at appropriate times – like tea in the morning or lemonade on a hot summer day. I did not think much about it – just throwing things together in a pot once in a while for a treat. Then came a visit to a Canadian cousin’s home. As a chef by profession, he had one day come home excited with the menu at his restaurant in hand. He had made the soup for the chef, and it had now arrived on the list.

It was a fair tribute to a woman who loved to cook and comfort. The chicken soup is flavored with coriander seeds and lemon juice and is a light drink that warms up your evening and nourishes your soul. Try a sip of this …



  • Chicken legs + chicken thighs / thighs 150 grams
  • 5 cloves garlic, cut into slices
  • An onion, cut into slices
  • ½ empty ginger, cut into slices
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 6 cups of water
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • Steamed rice (optional)


  1. Put all the ingredients except rice and lemon juice in a pressure cooker. Cook over medium heat until you hear 3 to 4 whistles. Take it off the stove and wait until it has cooled down before opening the stove.
  2. Strain the soup and set it aside. Bone the chicken pieces and add the chicken to the soup.
  3. Adjust spices and add a dash of lemon.
  4. Fill a bowl halfway with rice. Add chicken soup. Eat hot.

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