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Filipino Food Pick: Chicken Tinola

chicken tinola

“Feeling under the weather? Let me cook Chicken Tinola then.” says mom.

Traditionally, ginger, onion and garlic are slowly sauteed altogether. Once the aroma starts to let up, the chicken pieces are added and cooked until light brown. Water is poured in mixed with fish sauce. Let it come to a simmer and boil until chicken is tender before finally putting in the green papaya or sayote cut into wedges and the chili leaves (or malunggay leaves).

This authentic Filipino dish is flavored with garlic and fish sauce, and usually prepared when someone feels sick. Why? This rustic and easy-to-cook soup has amazing benefits that make it a great comfort food not only for the sick.

It's packed with chicken for protein, malunggay leaves loaded with vitamins and minerals; papaya. a good source of fiber and like ginger and onion it is also an antioxidant; sayote is rich infolate; and ginger, a natural anti-inflammatory and helps relieve digestive problems and nausea.

One of the earliest mentions of this savory dish was in Jose Rizal’s first novel, Noli Me Tangere. The scene talks about a dinner hosted by the influential Filipino Kapitan Tiago where he served the said dish to his guests – the protagonist Crisostomo Ibarra and the notorious Spanish friar Padre Damaso. Ibarra was served the chicken breast and gizzards, the best parts of the savory dish, while Padre Damaso displayed envy and arrogance upon getting the least favorite parts: vegetables and chicken.

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