Chicken Rasam - Indian-spiced Chicken Soup

A bowl of soup may take up so many other names – broth, gumbo, stew, chowder, consommé, bouillabaisse, potage, bouillon – according to its texture, ingredients and also the cuisine it belongs to. Nevertheless, a bowl of soup by another name would be as comforting :)

There is this particular soup which is a famous fare in Malaysia, popularized by its mamak community – the Tamil Muslim community. This dish is so popular that it was even featured in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation (episode Malaysia). It is basically beef, chicken or mutton soup cooked with a variety of spices and then served alongside cubed bread pieces (the croutons’ counterpart!).

In Melaka, there’s this food court in Jalan Bendahara (between City Bayview and Orkid Hotel) that includes a mamak stall serving this well-spiced beef/mutton/chicken soup. I remember my dad used to take us there for supper and hmmm I can still remember how the aroma of the spices excited my sense of smell even before my tongue got in-synced!

Besides that, the only other times I used to enjoy this kind of spiced soup is at home when my mom made chicken rasam. Rasam is a spicy South Indian soup compulsory in most Indian vegetarian cuisine. But for her chicken rasam, mom uses the same spices used in the regular rasam – cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black/white peppercorns, mustard seeds – minus the tamarind essence and hing. These spices are pounded with ginger, garlic and onions, fried in a little oil before adding the boney chicken pieces (the meatier part gets into the chicken gravy!) which are then simmered in water on low flame till the chicken flavor is well infused in the soup.

I did the same here for my chicken rasam. The taste was pretty good and the comforting effect of having a bowl of hot soup was there, except that whenever I feel like having a bowl of hearty soup like this, I wish I could have it from the mamak stall in Jalan Bendahara :)

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