A hearty chicken soup is amongst the top globally recognized comfort foods. And since continental Croatia is no exception to this gastronomic tradition, I would like to pay homage to the simple, yet beloved local variety of this dish known as pileći ujušak or ajngemahtec.
And to one particular cook, whose name and face remain unbeknownst to me, despite the fact that, for many years, she has been my culinary comfort provider. So if you happen to be in Zagreb on any given Saturday, there is no better pileći ujušak to savour than that of my anonymous cook at Vallis Aurea, a traditional Croatian restaurant, which lies just feet away from the city’s prominent landmark – the Funicular.
And if the good fortune of being in Zagreb on a Saturday has somehow evaded you, here is the family recipe handed down to me by my mother.
Pileći ujušak recipe:
1 whole chicken (giblets, legs & neck included)
1 red onion
4 carrots (coarsely chopped)
1 small kohlrabi (without leaves)
1 small celery root
40-50 dag (15 oz) of green peas
20 dkg (7 oz) of cauliflower
1 whole parsley
3 spoons of flour
1 teaspoon of oil
Chop the onion and simmer on low heat until sweet and yellow.
Add chopped meat and simmer on all sides until brownish.
Add salt and pepper.
Add chopped kohlrabi, celery root & carrots, and simmer with a closed lid until veggies soften. If necessary, add a bit of water.
Add chopped parsley, cauliflower, green peas and hot water and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, make the “noklice” (dumplings): mix 1 egg, 3 spoons of flour, a few drops of oil, and a pinch of salt (the consistency of the dough should be medium, falling from a spoon in batches).
When the soup is ready, immerse a teaspoon in boiling water and hold for a few seconds. Use the hot spoon to scoop the dough into the soup, one teaspoonful at a time.
Leave to simmer for a few minutes.