Put the chicken in a pot which will just hold it snugly, pour over the stock and top up with cold water to cover. (If you have no stock, put the chicken in a larger pot surrounded by some carcasses and bones together with sliced peeled carrots and unpeeled onions, then cover with cold water.) Bring to the boil, lower the heat and skim. Then simmer for 50—60 minutes, until a leg will pull easily away.
Carefully transfer the chicken to a dish. When cool enough to handle, cut and pull off the flesh and reserve. Return the bones to the pot, add the lime leaves and simmer for another 1-2 hours.
Pass the stock through a sieve into a clean saucepan and boil over a high heat to reduce by one-quarter.
Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan over a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Grind to a powder and reserve.
Blanch, peel and deseed the tomatoes, then dice the flesh. Peel the ginger and garlic and grate. Peel and dice the onions. Split, deseed and mince the chilli. Destalk the coriander leaves, reserve a few for garnish and chop the rest. Cut the pitta into 1 cm/½ in strips.
Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a pan large enough to hold all the ingredients and sauté the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli over a moderate heat for 2 minutes, stirring well.
Add the chicken meat, together with the ground toasted cumin seeds and the chopped coriander leaves. Pour over the stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer the mixture gently for 10 minutes.
Add the pitta strips and tomato dice and stir. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Bring back to a simmer, stir again, turn off the heat and cover. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Transfer to a warmed tureen for serving in large soup bowls. Garnish with the reserved whole coriander leaves and dribble over a little extra-virgin olive oil.
© 1995 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.