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Tonight's Dinner: Chicken Tinola (Chicken Ginger Stew)

Hi! How's your Saturday? 

Nothing too magnificent or odd happened today... I just cooked my son's favorite tinola (Chicken ginger stew) for lunch only to find out that we will go to my cousin's 18th birthday party at noon. We ended up not eating the tinola like what we had planned. On the brighter side, we had a feast. When I say feast, I really meant feast. My cousin served grilled chicken, pork barbecue, kare-kare and lumpia as the main entree and slices of sweet seedless watermelon for dessert. Yummy! Oh, I almost forgot, grandma cooked again her famous yellow rice which made us full big time.

The tinola... we had it for supper.

If you want to try it, here are the ingredients:

1 whole chicken cut into small parts
1 small papaya or vegetable pear (sayote) cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chili leaves
1 chicken cube (optional)
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic
1 small ginger cut into strips
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 tablespoons fish sauce or patis
1.5 liters of water
salt to adjust taste

1. In a pot, heat oil and saute onion, garlic and ginger.
2. Add chicken and cover the pot for 5 minutes to allow the juice to come out. TIP: Allowing the juice to come out will make the stock taste even better.
3. Add chicken cube, water and fish sauce. Allow to boil for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Add the papaya or vegetable pear and let it soften. Do not overcook.
5. Once the papaya or vegetable pear has been cooked, turn off the heat and put in the chili leaves. TIP: Overcooked chili leaves will make the stock bitter.
6. Adjust the taste by adding salt.


Tinola was mentioned in Chapter 3 of Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not). In the scene, Crisostomo Ibarra was having dinner at Kapitan (Captain) Tiago's house together with Padre (Friar) Damaso. Ibarra got the best parts of the chicken while Padre Damaso got the tail and neck part.

The tinola has been part of the Filipino dining table probably even before the Spaniards came. It is the most popular of all stew dishes in the Philippines simply because it is easy to cook and can be afford by any household. I personally consider it as a comfort food because my happiest childhood memories involve the tinola. I remember the time my grandma taught me how to cook it, how I buried a chili into my sister's rice when the lunch was tinola, the time I gathered chili leaves from our backyard when I was a kid and the time I cooked my first tinola that was grandmother approved. 

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