Attukal Paya (Lamb’s Feet Soup)

8 Jan

Attukal Paya (sometimes spelled as Aattukaal Paya or just Paya) is a hearty soup made with lamb, sheep, or goat feet served in South India. What fascinates me about this dish is that it’s often served for breakfast – initially this sounded strange to me, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense; why not start your day out with some nutritious bone broth soup?

I also love the idea of throwing together a bunch of ingredients at night and waking up to breakfast already made!

1.5 lbs lamb’s feet
1 onion
1 can whole peeled tomatoes (14.5oz)
1 tsp coriander seeds (or ground coriander)
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp each ground cayenne pepper and turmeric
1″ ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 dried bay leaf
4 cups water

for serving –
salt to taste
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

I have to admit, having these feet thaw out in my fridge was a little unnerving. But as far as lamb’s feet go, I couldn’t have asked for a cleaner, easier product that the US Wellness Meats feet, which were completely prepped for this recipe. It took about two days to thaw them out.

To start, we want to get a nice, roasted flavor in the soup, so we’re going to broil the feet. Place the feet on a baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes per side.

The feet will only brown slightly during that time, but the hooves will start to turn a rich brown color.

While the feet are broiling, combine all of the other ingredients (minus the water) in a food processor (I used our handy Ninja) and process until smooth.

Put the processed ingredients into a dutch oven or crock pot, add the broiled feet, and stir in four cups of water. Add the bay leaf and heat everything on med/low heat, uncovered.

Once the soup starts to simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 10 hours.

The next morning, your house will smell wonderful, and you’ll have breakfast ready and waiting for you.

Remove and discard the bay leaf and feet (don’t forget to dish out any small bones that are hiding at the bottom of the soup) and add salt to taste – I ended up using 1 tsp of salt to get the taste right.

I should note that in many authentic recipes they eat the feet. I wasn’t a fan of the consistency, since it had cooked for over 10 hours and was very mushy; this dish is often cooked with a pressure cooker, which likely breaks down the bones’ nutrients but leaves the meat still firm, which would probably be much more palatable. Either way, don’t let the fact that this is a liquid soup deter you – it is still a very nutrient dense and rewarding dish, and a perfect way to start out a day.

Chop up some cilantro and throw it in, and serve. Couldn’t be easier.

Some people like to eat the meal with some leftover cooked white rice, which I tried and liked. It gave the soup a stew-like quality and a heartier feel.

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14 Responses to “Attukal Paya (Lamb’s Feet Soup)”

  1. Rebecca @ Crafting Order January 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    For those of us that are just starting out…and a little squeamish…do you have any suggestions for something a bit more “typical” for the meat instead of the lamb’s feet?

    • Russ Crandall ( January 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

      Hi Rebecca, certainly, any combination of red meat and bone will work well with this recipe, preferably something that is tough and/or requires braising – oxtail, osso bucco, short ribs, soup bones with meat attached, etc.

  2. grokgrub January 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    I’ll need to be buddies with the ranchers at the farmer’s market to score some lamb’s feet in Dallas, I suspect. I should be anyway, so this is a good incentive.

  3. Lindsey Ismailova January 8, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    What inspired this recipe in the first place, for you? Have you eaten much lamb before?

    • Russ Crandall ( January 8, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

      Lindsey, when doing research I discovered that there are not too many traditional lamb’s feet recipes, so it was pretty easy to decide on this dish! We do eat lamb from time to time but this was definitely my first lamb’s feet experience. It worked out much better than I hoped!

  4. justagirlfromaamchimumbai January 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    Oh my god this is such a gorgeous soup. I love it especially during winters when u can dunk big chunks of warm bread in it or just have it on its own. It is a very popular soup in India. Love the post :)

  5. Rosamond January 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    Yummy!!! I make Paya at least 6 times a year but i have the feet chopped in 3 parts and keep them in the soup. I have one or two different ingredients and slightly different method but anyway…i love this dish. When i was initially introduced to them i thought i would be sick but i was very hungry and ate the juice. That was the start of a love relationship lol. I prefere this with naan or chapatti and suck the juice from the bones. I know some will find this hard to deal with but we do fall in love in the most strange ways,

  6. Susan Kline January 13, 2013 at 4:40 am #

    A little bit of eww here, but have endured the liver recently. I am curious if you have tested the assumed healthy vs unhealthy fats for optimal health (whatever that means). Thank you for your spirit and generosity to all. I am celiac since 5 yrs, at least, yet understand that it is not the precursor to diminished systemic immunity, merely a symptom. Live, Love and Laugh!

  7. shilpa April 14, 2013 at 1:36 am #

    chanced upon you r blog through saveur and nom nom paleo. i already voted for you. such a pleasant surprise to see a recipe for paaya. i was thrilled. i am a new mom recovering from a c-section, this was one of the first foods given to me to regain my strength. i always add dill leaves to the soup which imparts a nice flavor and replenishes iron content. try it you might like it.


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