Call it by any name - Chettinad mutton soup, Chettinad mutton bone soup, Aatukaal soup, Aatukaal paaya, Trotter soup, Nenjelumbu soup based on the type of bones used - This is my most favorite soup in the whole world! :) There's absolutely nothing else like this one. To top it off, this mineral rich bone soup is very good for health.
My mom learnt this recipe in Sivakaasi, from her neighbors who were from Kaaraikudi. The recipe calls for fire roasted trotters (நெருப்பில் வாட்டிய ஆட்டுக்கால்) because trotters have more collagen in them. When cooked, the collagen becomes gelatin and the broth gets very rich and has healing properties. If you can't get trotters, you can use any kind of mutton bones. I've used goat/lamb bones with good results. Since I can't flame-roast them at home, I broil the bones in the oven and that gives a rich, smoky flavor. And for making the soup part, You can use a pressure cooker or a slow cooker. I use both methods depending on my availability at home that day - And both methods give excellent results!
While making this soup seem very easy, don't underestimate the recipe. It is really good. Having eaten (drunk?) this soup umpteen times, I tried once at a restaurant, popular for its Chettinad food and found that actually mine was better. :p To the kind person who shared this simple but amazing recipe with my mom, Thank you very much!! :) And thanks mom, for passing it on to me. Now I pass it on to everybody else who'd want to try this.
Goat Trotters, cleaned and chopped - 1-2 lbs (You can use any mutton bones - that's what I do)
Coriander leaves - handful, cleaned and chopped
Salt - 1 tsp
Apple cider vinegar - 1-3 tbsp (optional) The original recipe doesn't call for this, but I add this to draw out all the minerals and nutrients from the bones.You can add lemon juice too.
Broil the mutton bones until the bones are roasted, say for 20 mins. If the bones are frozen, it might take more time. Keep a closer watch on the bones once they are in the oven. I sometimes broil the bones the previous night and put it in the fridge, so that I can make the soup in the morning to get a head start on making lunch.
Grind to a 'coarse' paste
Pearl onions - 5-10 (substitute with 1 red onion)
Ripe Tomato - 1
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Pepper - 2 tsp (add more if you can take the heat!)
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic - 4-5 pods
(In case you are wondering, No! this recipe does NOT have coriander powder in it!!)
Pressure cooker method:
Put the broiled bones, ground paste, turmeric powder, salt, apple cider vinegar, cilantro and about 5-6 cups of water (I don't measure) in the pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 10 whistles in medium heat. Let the pressure cool down [No, Don't be sneaky and lift the weight off like my DH used to do. The wait is so worth it!]. Adjust salt and pepper and serve hot.
Slow cooker method:
This is super easy. Put the broiled bones, ground paste, turmeric powder, salt, apple cider vinegar, cilantro and about 5-6 cups of water (I don't measure) in the crockpot. Cook on slow for 8 hrs. Then put it on high for another 2-4 hrs. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Some even mix this soup in hot steamed rice. It's good that way too.
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