Saffron is a special ingredient that comes from a beautiful purple flower called the Saffron Crocus. My family enjoys this stew on early fall days when the weather is just starting to turn cool, but we still have fresh tomatoes from our garden.
This soup was inspired by Kali Dal, a special dish from the northern part of India, made from tiny black beans named after the goddess Kali. Before you are ready to begin cooking, ask the children to sort the beans, picking out rocks and broken beans.
The spices used in Indian cooking are chosen to balance each other. A fun way to prepare the spices for this soup is to start with whole spices and to grind them with a mortar and pestle. Everyone will enjoy the sweet and complex aromas that are released from the coriander, cinnamon and cardamom during the grinding process. Ask your children if they can guess what part of the plant these spices come from. Coriander and cardamom are seeds. Cinnamon is the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree.
Dal refers to dishes made from the many dried pulses (peas, split beans, and lentils). This delicate butter-yellow dal is the split mung bean without the green skin. In India, mung dal is often cooked without onion or garlic. This dal is delicate and light, with the freshness of sweet bell peppers, ripe tomatoes and earthy spinach.
Serves 4 to 6
This is the chicken soup that my family likes best. There is something about the combination of tender potatoes in gently spiced broth that warms us on cold evenings and soothes us, especially when we are feeling tired and a little grumpy. Young children enjoy peeling garlic and pulling cilantro leaves from their stems. Older children can cut the vegetables and measure the spices. Remind everyone to wash their hands with warm soapy water after handling chicken.