Chicken Liver Ghee Roast; Take that Anemia!

Here we are sneaking into 2024 at last and just what the hell is wrong with my body this year? According to a recent check-up, yup, now I’m anemic on top of all my other woes. January is always the time of the year to make New Year’s resolutions; As in eating more iron-rich liver. A lot of people may be terrified of liver. I bet those people are lucky enough to have bodies that produce a normal amount of iron. “You are at high risk to have a blood transfusion” At a routine doctor’s appointment this week, I was not expecting to be told I have a crazy iron deficiency.

Some days I climb mountains.

Those were not the words I was expecting my doctor to say to me this autumn evening. I had been more tired than normal lately but assumed that was because I’m over forty now and not exactly a spring chicken anymore (But can sometimes still climb a mountain like a hyper chipmunk) I was actually wondering if my thyroid was misfiring. Turns out it’s just an iron deficiency.

I spend my days climbing mountain trails and sometimes hiking as much as twenty miles in a day. Okay, maybe I have the right to feel tired some days but lately, I just did not have the energy I had a few years ago. I still wanted to climb to the top of those mountains but I wanted to take the gondola back down to the car afterward!

This could also explain why sometimes I have a very hard time catching my breath. I thought it was just that nine thousand-foot mountain I just climbed up. As I talked to my doctor about what I could possibly do to change my lifestyle so I don’t have to have a blood transfusion ASAP, I started thinking, so if all I need to do is start eating more liver and taking iron supplements when I start to feel better I am going to be like the bionic Hungry Mountaineer! I will be jogging up 10,000-foot mountains like I used to!

That one time I hiked to the top of Mammoth Mountain and I did take the gondola back down.

Organ meat, delicious!

Anemia or an iron deficiency is common and most people just think, eat more steak. Except I seriously dislike steak. For a person who seriously does not care for steak having an iron deficiency is no fun at all. I do, however, love liver, especially chicken liver. Last night I set out to make an Anglo-Indian liver dish that was as good as the one my boyfriend’s sister-in-law made me in Bangalore a few years ago. (She did give me that recipe, but I could not make the liver taste even as good as she made it)

According to the WHO (Those guys are always correct, right?) Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world.  When researching delicious liver I actually discovered that chicken liver is higher in iron than beef liver! I found that so surprising as beef itself is high in iron. Chicken liver actually has more than twice the iron as beef liver.

Organ meat; Delicious!

As I drove away after my surprising doctor’s appointment, I thought thank God I just happened to be making liver tonight! I had the livers already defrosting in my fridge as I drove past red maple trees and yellow aspens shaking their leaves out on the mountain roads.

So how exactly does one end up with an iron deficiency?

Well, basically my kidneys are broken. And have been for years. But no doctor will take me seriously because I am too young to have an issue with my kidneys. Every single woman in my family has kidney disease but yet it’s not hereditary somehow. I feel like it’s just one of those things where doctors have not discovered it’s hereditary yet. When someone has chronic kidney disease their kidneys are damaged and can’t filter the blood the way the body should.  I went through years in my twenties having constant kidney infections and have had recurring issues ever since my twenties but doctors won’t take me seriously about this issue. That’s some kind of bullshit, right? So for now I will just shove some Ghee Roasted Liver at my face until I fix my broken kidneys.

I already have low concentration levels (Squirrel!) breathing problems and fatigue. I really don’t want to get as far as the hair loss which is also common with an iron deficiency. During this entire pandemic, I have been having intense issues breathing so often when wearing a mask. Sometimes it’s just when I am browsing in the grocery store! I honestly thought this had to do with my asthma. I had no idea it could be related to an iron deficiency! Of course, by the time I figured this out, the pandemic is fading into the sunset and face masks may one day soon be a thing of the past. Let’s hope anyways.

Anemia for dummies

Iron deficiency
Hiking and breathing heavy with this bitch.

So obviously I’m new to this whole anemia business. Some lifestyle changes are harder, like taking an iron supplement every day with a glass of orange juice and praying I don’t get constipated. Chicken Liver Ghee Roast is a great way to get more iron in your diet rather than eating an entire can of black beans which I would love to do. Except then my family would force me to sleep in the garage with the dog. But if you feel like inhaling the most delicious Bean Burger ever here is that recipe.

Some people who start taking iron-rich supplements are known to get constipated. Which I really don’t get. Spinach! Black beans! Liver! I don’t get how anyone trying to force iron supplements and iron-rich foods can possibly get constipated with so many fiber-rich foods in their diet! The body absorbs iron much quicker when you consume iron in meat form so inhaling lots of liver, oysters, duck and beef is a good way to go. Other iron-rich foods such as spinach, dark chocolate, chickpeas, apricots, tofu (Soybeans) cashews and almonds are not absorbed into the bloodstream as quickly when they come from mostly plant material.

I was surprised when researching iron-rich foods that duck is so high in iron. One 100-gram serving of cooked duck meat with the skin has 2.7 mg of iron, which is more than double that of chicken and turkey. It looks like some crispy duck may be in my immediate future.  Aside from duck, black beans are confirmed to be a good source of iron, zinc and copper. Approximately a half cup of cooked black beans (100 g) contains an average of 6.5 mg iron, 4 mg zinc and 1 mg copper.

Iron deficiency
Stuffing liver in my face, Indian style

In our family, we are doing a month of just keto living. This is another great reason for me to say no to beans and say yes to liver. Staying in ketosis all the time for a whole month means we go through a lot of ghee. Thank the Lord you can buy ghee practically by the gallon at Costco now! Five years ago, I had to drive to Little India, Artesia California, more than two hours from our house to purchase ghee. Oh, how grocery times have changed! These chicken livers are roasted in a whole lot of ghee, which is great for remaining in ketosis.

I prefer this dish with the smoky dried Indian Kashmiri chilis. Kashmiri chilis can be hard to find in America. In so much Indian cooking, I just buckle down and use dried Chinese red chili peppers because they are easy to come by in the United States. Much like authentic Indian ingredients like asafetida (Or hinge in Hindi) or shrimp pickle, some Indian ingredients are just not to be found outside of the world’s spice capital. I mean, you can’t even find these authentic Indian ingredients at Whole Foods! (And that could be because authentic asafetida smells like a room full of farts) Luckily, chicken livers are easily available at most grocery stores, not stinky and are very inexpensive.

Are you living the keto lifestyle? This is the best Anglo-Indian recipe to keep your body deep in ketosis. On the streets of Bangalore India, I bet the words “Keto diet” are not something you may hear a lot. “Gaay ke mal ke us garm dher ke lie baahar dekho” or “Look out for that steaming pile of cow shit” is a more likely sentence to hear from the residents of Kammanahli in their bright yellow or purple saris as the woman shop for fresh brinjals, lentils and drumstick (pods from the Moringa tree) at the farm-fresh veggie markets.

Mangalorean Style Chicken Liver Ghee Roast

1 pound chicken livers

3 dried Kashmiri chilis

2 red onions

5 teaspoons ghee

2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 and a 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup milk

2 cups chicken or lamb stock or bone broth

1 cups water

10 curry leaves

Back to the deliciousness of ghee roast…

Firstly, you must wash the livers well in clean water. After you have cleaned your livers set them aside in the milk for half an hour. This will drain more of the blood. In this time you can start on the masala mix.

Dry roast the chilis in a wok for ten minutes until very roasted and just slightly blackened. Do not use oil for this step. Next, roast the curry leaves in 1 teaspoon ghee and set aside. In the same pan, roast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds for a good five minutes until they are toasted but not burnt. Grind them up in a mixie with the chilies.

In a wok cook the red onions in 1 teaspoon of ghee until very well done in 2 teaspoons of ghee, at least fifteen minutes. Let them cool then add to the mixie with the cumin masala mixture.

Add the ground onions back to the wok with 1 teaspoon of the ghee. Mix in the garlic, ginger, the cumin powder, the turmeric and white pepper. Stir fry on high heat but do not let it burn. Slowly add water to the chicken stock and let it cook down for at least an hour. Keep adding more water as the stew cooks down.

Next, drain the livers from the milk. In that last teaspoon of ghee sear the livers. Add salt. After they are seared, use a spatula to move the whole mixture into the masala. Don’t over-stir the livers or they will fall apart! Add the paprika and cook for another ten minutes at least. Now add the curry leaves at the end.

Serve this with a giant helping of Greek yogurt and stay happily deep in ketosis!


  1. Esme Slabbert

    Sorry to hear about you being anemic, but good for you to enjoy liver. I will join you any day for a plate of liver.
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