Chettinad chicken rasam

Chicken broth, simmered with South Indian or Chettinad flavours and spices.

It’s the perfect soup to have on a cold, wintry and rainy day. Everyone knows that home-made chicken broth is the best cure for a weak chest and runny nose. Add on some healthy and fresh spices, it can work magic for the soul and body.

It was one of those chilly and wet evenings, and I was craving for some chicken broth, which happens to be the only kind of soup my daughter seems to love. I was in the mood for something spicy, tangy and different from the regular good ol chicken stock recipe. I ever knew such a soup existed, which is what I discovered while searching and googling for variations.

It is also known as Chettinad kozhi rasam. Chettinad cuisine is renowned in India, it is the cuisine of the Chettiar community, of South India. Fennel seeds, seem predominant in every Chettinad dish, apart from a variety of spices and fresh masalas. Rasam, traditionally, is a South Indian clear soup, made with lentils, tomatoes and tamarind. In my recipe, I have not used tomatoes, though most recipes do incorporate it. I played around, so as to create a lighter version of the rasam or soup. I definitely added the usual aromatics of celery and carrots which go into a regular chicken stock, just to impart a touch of their flavours in the rasam, too.

Fragrant spices, fresh curry leaves, chicken, garlic and aromatics, cooked together form the base of this delicious soup. I added my own little touch in the end as a garnish – one of my favourite, fresh avocado, and my daughter’s favourite, fried rice vermicelli 😊

Servings: 4-6


Chicken pieces, with bone – 300 grams. I used chicken legs, preferably dark meat which has more flavour than the breast.

1 carrot, cut in large chunks

2 stalks celery, cut in large chunks

6 pearl onions or shallots

1/2 tsp. turmeric powder

8-10 fresh curry leaves

3-4 garlic cloves

Juice of a fresh lime

Water – 4 cups

Salt, to taste


For the ground spice or masala paste:

1 dried red chilli. I used a Mexican Ancho chilli, which is mild, and lends a deep color. Or use Kashmiri dried chilli.

1 tbsp. coriander seeds

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1 tsp.cumin seeds

1 tsp. black peppercorns

A small piece of cinnamon

A pinch asafoetida or hing

For the garnish:

Rice vermicelli, fried

Diced avocado

Fresh coriander or cilantro


In a small sauté pan, dry roast the spices for the masala paste, namely, coriander, fennel, cumin seeds, cinnamon, black peppercorns, for a couple of minutes. Add along, with the dried red chilli and grind to a powder consistence. Set aside.

In a large pressure cooker, place the chicken, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, turmeric powder and add water. Pressure cook the chicken, after one whistle, cook on low heat for 8-10 minutes. When cool, open the lid, remove chicken pieces and shred flesh off the bones. Set aside. Discard the carrots, garlic and celery pieces, with a slotted spoon. I like to leave the onions in. If preferred, strain the stock entirely through a sieve.

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat a tsp.of ghee. Add the curry leaves. Add the ground masalas paste and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock. Add salt, to taste and lemon juice. Add the shredded chicken.


Garnish with avocado, fried rice vermicelli and fresh coriander or cilantro.

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