The first time I tasted commercially made bone broth, I was totally turned off. It was tart and not satisfying or soulful. Adding lemon juice to the cooking process draws out minerals and nutrients but lord, how can you keep drinking that stuff? I’d rather slurp a bowl of pho or sip on homemade stock. Then I spied the turmeric ginger chicken broth recipe in Chandra Ram’s The Complete Indian Instant Pot Cookbook.
Chandra is the editor of Plate, a culinary magazine geared toward chefs and restaurateurs. But she also writes smart cookbooks that bridge old and new. Her latest book is loaded with interesting recipes, including ones that use the Instant Pot for fermenting batters and rising dough. I’ve got my eye on this one, for example.
But last week, when it was cold and rainy, Chandra’s spiced-up broth was more my speed. The great thing about making broth like this one in a pressure cooker is you don’t have to thaw the bones. (If I’m making Instant Pot pho and there’s meat that I don’t want to overcook, I wouldn’t put frozen parts in. That’s because I can’t monitor the rate of cooking with the pressure cooker’s lid locked in place.) I went down to our local market and picked up chicken backs since I didn’t have any in my freezer.
I was unfamiliar with Indian bone broth, and Chandra told me via email that “bone broth (often lamb or goat-based) has a long history in Ayurvedic cooking, and when bone broth became trendy a few years ago, more and more people referenced its place in Ayurvedic practices.” Her family in India is vegetarian but some vegetarians enjoy animal-based broths but do not eat meat.
Building Healthful Spicy Punch
Thinking of big spice notes like ones in South Indian rasam (a vegetable and lentil broth packed with big flavor) that Chandra grew up with, she conjured up this splendid recipe. “I drink it when I’m feeling run down,” she explained. “I added lemon for its acidic quality to help draw out minerals from the bones, as well as lots of turmeric, ginger, garlic and chilies; the ingredients that make me feel better when I have a cold. If it’s a little strong for your tastes, simply add a little water to dilute it.”
Note that tumeric, chile, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, and black pepper are among the great anti-inflammatory spices and aromatics. Chandra packs the broth with them and the flavor is bold but not overwhelming. Her use of lemon juice complements those spices well, too.
Curry Leaf Sourcing and Subs
The ingredient that may trip you up is curry leaf. I grow it and use it in South Asian dishes as well as to roast a chicken! You can buy it at Indian markets.
If curry leaf is not available, take the broth in different direction by using a 3/4 to 1 cup of coarsely chopped cilantro sprigs. I throw cilantro into my Instant Pot chicken pho to dial in the pho ga flavors of my childhood and what I’ve had in Hanoi.
Playing with the Broth
You can sip on the broth as is, though I took a cue from Chandra and added slivers of fresh ginger for zip and some chopped cilantro. Lime leaf or grated lime zest would work too.
But she also mentions using the broth as a base for other soups. At the top of this page is the turmeric ginger chicken broth with ribbons of napa cabbage, poached chicken that I tore into bite-size pieces, ginger slivers and chopped cilantro. For each bowl, I used: two handfuls of cabbage, a small handful of cooked chicken, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1 tablespoon cilantro.
You may add spoonfuls of rice and handfuls of baby kale to the broth for a quick lunch. A soft boiled egg in each bowl would make a balanced bowl. Go for it!
What if you don’t have an Instant Pot?
Use a regular pressure cooker for the stovetop (Fagor is my go-to brand) and about 9 cups of water. You could use a slow cooker or a regular pot. “Bone broth usually takes 24-48 hours to simmer on the stove; you need it to cook that long to draw the minerals out from the bones,” Chandra noted. “The Instant Pot makes this a million times faster and easier; you can let it cook without watching the pot or waiting for it to finish.”
So get out that Instant Pot or pressure cooker and brew up this turmeric ginger chicken broth. It’s super fragrant, life giving, and it freezes well, too.
A Little Viet Food Any Day Update
My author copies arrived. They’re an allotment from my publisher that’ll serve as thank you gifts to people who helped out to make the book a beauty. As usual, I carry the boxes in, stack them up and stare at them, bewildered at my career. Who’d thought this would be what I ended up doing? Not my parents. I worked as a bank auditor right out of college.
Vietnamese Food Any Day releases on February 5 (Tet!) so order yourself a copy wherever books are sold (scroll down the book preview for options).
Turmeric Ginger Chicken Broth
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns crushed
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 15 fresh curry leaves torn into pieces
- 2 serrano chiles chopped
- 2 onions chopped
- 4- inch piece ginger unpeeled and sliced
- 6 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
- 3 pounds chicken bones see Note, below
- 2 chicken feet optional
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Kosher salt optional
- Using the Sauté function on High, toast the peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric and curry leaves in the inner pot, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chiles, onions, ginger, garlic, chicken bones, chicken feet (if using) and lemon juice. Pour enough water over the bones to cover them by 1 inch (about 8 cups); secure the lid. (When making this in a regular stovetop pressure cooker, set it over medium high heat to aromatize the spices; then add the other ingredients, increasing the water to about 9 cups, and lock on the lid.)
- Using the Soup function on Normal, cook the broth for 2 hours. (Bring a stovetop pressure cooker to high pressure, adjust the pressure to steady it, then cook for 2 hours.)
- Once the cooking is complete, let the pressure release naturally (about 30 minutes).
- Pour the broth through a fine-mesh sieve (or a colander lined with cheesecloth). Taste and add salt, if needed. Serve immediately or let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.