Chicken yakhni or chicken broth is the Pakistani and Indian version of chicken soup for the soul. It is super simple to make, and the aroma fills up the house as it simmers on the stove. It is also comforting, highly nutritious and tastes delicious. It can be enjoyed on its own with a squeeze of lemon or used as a broth in different recipes.
What is yakhni?
The literal translation of yakhni is soup or broth and it is a popular recipe in Pakistan as well as India. It can be made with chicken where it is called chicken yakhni and it can also be made with goat meat where it is called mutton yakhni (goat meat is referred to as mutton in the Indian subcontinent).
Yakhni once made can be drunk on its own like a soup with a squeeze of lemon, along with salt and black pepper to taste. The boiled meat (be it chicken or red meat) is shredded and added back to the soup. This highly aromatic broth is also used in a variety of recipes in Indian as well as Pakistani cooking – for instance, to make chicken yakhni pulao (chicken pilaf) or mutton yakhni pulao (goat meat pilaf), or to enrich the gravy for meat and chicken recipes, and also as a broth in other soup recipes such as chicken corn soup.
The recipe that I am sharing today is for chicken yakhni or chicken broth / chicken soup, and it is a popular recipe during the fall and winter season as it helps in clearing congestion and is considered an effective home remedy for cough, cold and flu.
What cut of chicken should I use to make chicken yakhni?
To make chicken yakhni or chicken broth of any kind, it is important to use chicken bones as that is where the flavor lies. It is not necessary to make the yakhni only when fresh bones are available. The bones can be collected over the course of a few weeks and kept in the freezer until there are enough to make the chicken yakhni. My preference is to use chicken drumsticks or chicken legs (skinless), as the meat can then be shredded and used in other recipes such as to make soup or sandwiches. Other options include chicken neck, chicken wings, and the regular skinless chicken, cut into pieces.
How to make Pakistani style chicken yakhni?
Bring to a boil: Place water, chicken and aromatics in a pan to a boil. Lower the heat, and skim off the fat that comes to the top of the yakhni / broth.
Decide on the ingredients: The ingredients used to make chicken yakhni are quite simple. Start off with deciding on the aromatics that will be used in making chicken yakhni. Onions, ginger and garlic are a must along with a mix of whole spices. The most commonly used whole spices are black peppercorn, cloves and cinnamon. Other options include whole coriander seeds, bay leaf and cardamon. The whole spices and vegetables add a subtle aroma and flavor to the chicken yakhni.
Simmer, simmer and simmer: Cover the pot partially with the lid, and then simmer for at least 2 hours, preferably 6 hours.
Strain, and cool: Strain the yakhni / broth through a fine colander, or a muslin cloth and refrigerate. Take out the chicken pieces, and shred the chicken to eat with the soup, or use in other recipes. As the yakhni cools in the fridge, a layer of fat will solidify on the top after cooling, which can be removed.
Looking for more recipes to use this chicken broth in – check out the following:
- Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup (No Cream)
- Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup (Dairy free and Vegan free)
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Halal cart Chicken and Rice
Chicken Yakhni | Simple and aromatic chicken broth
- 500 gram skinless chicken drumsticks / chicken legs see note 1
- 1 medium onion quartered
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 slice fresh ginger ¼ inch thick, peeled
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste
- 3 liters water
- Lemon wedges
- Black pepper
For the chicken yakhni / chicken broth:
- Place all of the ingredients in a 5-liter stockpot or any deep saucepan with a lid. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.
- Lower the heat so that the liquid is barely simmering, and skim off the scum and foam that rises to the top with a spoon.
- Cover the pot or saucepan partially with a lid, and let it simmer. It is best to simmer for at least 4 hours, but it can be simmered for 6 – 8 hours, and even 12 hours, depending on time available. As the yakhni or stock keeps cooking, the water will evaporate, and the yakhni / broth will become richer as a result. In that case, it may need to be diluted with water in future recipes.
- Turn off the heat, and let the yakhni / broth cool for a bit.
- Strain the yakhni / broth through a fine colander or layers of muslin cloth.
- Throw away the vegetables and aromatics. Reserve the chicken pieces, and remove all the meat.
- The yakhni / broth can be drunk like a clear liquid soup or it can be made into a chicken soup with the addition of the shredded pieces of chicken.
- To serve the chicken yakhni / chicken soup as is, season with salt and black pepper, and serve with lemon wedges.
- To serve the chicken yakhni with the chicken, add the shredded chicken back to the yakhni and let it come to a boil to warm the chicken. Serve it in a bowl with salt and black pepper to taste, and lemon wedges on the side.
- If storing the yakhni / soup for later, refrigerate the yakhni for a few hours – this will result in a layer of fat that will solidify on the top. Scoop off the fat, and then store in the fridge for upto 5 days, or keep in the freezer. If kept in the freezer, it is best to let it cook for longer so that the liquid evaporates, and then the yakhni can be stored in the form of chicken yakhni cubes in an ice cube tray. The meat can be shredded and used in other recipes, or it can be eaten with the chicken yakhni.