We now have only three kinds of chili peppers growing in a single pot, habanero, tabasco and jalapeno. I didn't realize that their leaves, although not as intense as the chilis, can also be quite spicy and hot. They definitely made the soup a lot spicier than I intended. Tinola is an old recipe which dates back to Spanish time in the Philippines. I prefer to use whole chicken, cut-up, than just boneless chicken fillets in this particular recipe although a combination may be used. The chicken bones impart so much good flavor in the soup. The ingredients, which add a kick to the unique flavor of this chicken soup, are fresh ginger, chili pepper leaves and chayote or young green papaya.
Personally, I prefer chayote (shown above) over the papaya. The great thing about using papaya though is the papain, a natural meat tenderizer, in the papaya fruit. Aside from the freshest ginger you can find in the market, the chili leaves play an important role in this dish. Substituting ginger powder is not recommended because the flavor of the fresh ginger is essential to the success of the dish.