If you have been reading this blog for awhile you know I hardly ever post recipes that use meat. So far I’ve only ever posted one to be exact. But as I get questions from people all the time I wanted to undo the myth that I never eat meat.
Ayurveda is not by nature a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Meat is consumed but way less than we have become accostumed to in the West. Actually meat is used in Ayurveda the way veggies are often used in traditional Western meals. Almost as an after thought. Instead of designing a meal that evolves around a big chunck of meat with grains and vegetables as side notes, in Ayurveda it is defenitely the other way around. Meat is used very very sparingly. Eaten maybe once or twice a week and, as always, the digestive power of the individual eating it is taken into consideration. Is it strong enough to digest such a heavy food? The type of meat for each constitution is as important as the quality of the meat and the conditions in which the animal lived and was killed. This to me seems like the only sensible way of eating meat if you decide you want to add that food source to your diet. But I always say, please listen to an respecty your own body and heart when it comes to such a touchy subject.
For me personally as I embarked on my own Ayurvedic journey I started to eat less and less meat as I went along. This was a huge shift for me coming from a Creole Surinamese background where meat or fish are the central piece of the meal and no meal is considered complete without them. But not only did I absolutely not miss it, it made me feel so much better and lighter. And, although I have no scientific evidence to back it up, I am prone to believe it hugely decreased the painful and very uncomfortable periods I had suffered from for years. Probably from not having so many hormones in my body that I previously consumed through (lousy quality) meat. However (for now) I have not completely banned all meat from my diet, because at times I feel like I need it to ground me. I do not, nor does Ayurveda for that matter, believe that meat is the only or most important source of protein for us. No sir, absolutely not. I get plenty and more easily digestable protein from eating lentils and beans as well as protein laden grains like quinoa and amaranth. But quite honestly I sometimes crave the taste, especially when eating a traditional Surinamese childhood dish. However I do take the necessary precautions to ensure eating the meat will leave me feeling better and not worst after eating it.
I tend to stick to poultry and fish when I do eat meat and on a rare occasion will have some lamb meat. I am very picky nowadays on the source of my meat and since I eat it so little I insist on having the best organic quality I can find and afford when I do eat it. I also make sure that I eat meat during lunch rather than at dinner time as our agni or digestive fire is naturally at its highest between noon and 2 pm. In Ayurveda it is advised to use plenty of spices when cooking meat to help your agni along and most often it will be consumed in the form of a soup or stew so the meat has become very very tender and thus also easier to break down during digestion.
I felt prompted to make this recipe after the weather hit a colder than cold spell yesterday and I came home shivering from head to toe. Being cold in winter is one thing, being cold in spring?? In my book simply unacceptable! I once heard a wise man on the Oprah Winfrey show say that not forgiving somebody for how they had wronged you was like taking poison yourself and expecting the other person to die. That’s how I feel about complaining about Dutch weather… It is completely pointless and hell, frankly Mama nature don’t care! I do believe however in taking control of the very very few things in life I have control over to restore the balance as best as I know how. For me that usually means cranking up my inner themomether through warming foods and sunny thoughts.
Now in the wrong hands the internet can be a beehive of negativity. From scaring the crap out of you with claims of upcoming terrorist attacks to continiously spitting nasty gossip about this or that celebrity in your face. Oh but in the right hands…. OMG. It can be a heavenly haven of comforting food and uplifting youtube films. And so it was that I spent my evening with P.J’s and thermo socks on, a bowl of comfort warming my belly, watching reruns of Oprah’ s Super Soul Sunday episodes. Now if that isn’t food for the soul I don’t know what is!
This soup is perfect for icy cold Vata’s shivering from head to toe and on the verge of going into the ugly cry. Pitta can have it on occasion as well. But Kapha’s, you don’t need the extra unctioness as you have plenty of yourself. If you only eat vegetarian use a vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock and stir fry shi-take or oyster mushrooms instead of the chicken meat. I reckon that some boiled sweet potato cubes would be a very welcome sweet addition adding extra colour to boot.
Chicken soup for the soul (for 4 portions) Slightly adapted from www.ladyandpups.com
- 1000 ml of chicken stock
- 250 grams of leftover white rice
- 1 tbsp of ghee
- 1/2 of a medium onion, finely diced
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1/4 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
- 50 grams steamed chinese broccoli
- 75 grams of finely shredded boiled chicken
- 2 tbsp of ghee
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp of ground pepper
- 1 tbsp of grated ginger
- 4 soft-poached eggs
- red chillie rings, spring onion rings and fried shallots for garnish
To make the rice-thickened chicken soup in a medium sized pot sweat the onion in tbsp of ghee with salt and the ground black pepper over medium heat, until translucent and soft, but not browned. Add the chicken stock and rice, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the rice is very soft. Use a hand held immersion blender or transfer to a blender and blend until completely smooth. Return the soup back to the pot and keep warm with the lid on.
To make the browned and crispy chicken bits add the finely shredded chicken, ghee, salt and ground pepper to a skillet and cook over medium-high heat. Keep stirring occasionally until crispy and browned on all edges. Add the grated ginger and cook for a few seconds only, then turn off the heat completely. Set aside until needed.
Ladle the soup in warmed bowls. Set some steamed chinese broccoli on top. Top this with a little bit of the crunchy chicken and a poached egg. Garnish with the chillie rings, spring onion and fried shallot.