Photo by jessica_ann_mills/flickr

Serves 8-10


1.5 kg/3 lb chicken backs or wings,
or soup bones and gravy beef
or neck of mutton
1 onion stuck with 4 whole cloves
3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
5 cardamom pods, bruised
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ghee or oil
1 onion, sliced very thinly
10 curry leaves
2 teaspoons Madras curry paste
400 ml/14 fl oz can coconut milk
lemon juice to taste


Put chicken and/or meat into a large saucepan with plenty of cold water to cover and add the onion, garlic, peppercorns, cardamom pods, coriander, cumin and salt. Bring slowly to the boil, cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Cool to lukewarm, remove the bones and cut meat into small pieces and set aside. Strain stock. There should be about 6 cups.

Heat oil or ghee and fry the sliced onion, stirring, until evenly browned. Add curry leaves and if a strong curry flavour is desired, add the curry paste. Pour hot stock into pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in coconut milk diluted with enough water to make 3 cups. Add reserved meat and heat but do not boil. Season with salt to taste and stir in the lemon juice once the soup has been removed from the heat. Serve hot, with a mound of steamed rice in the centre of the plate for a one-dish meal.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)