Mulligatawny soup is an Anglo-Indian favorite. It is essentially a delicious and spicy Indian chicken soup. The word “Mulligatawny” comes from the Tamil word Milagutanni: “Milagu” meaning pepper and “tanni”, which means water. So the literal translation is pepper water. There are lots of variations to this recipe but this vegetarian version is my personal favorite.
MULLIGATAWNY SOUP: Vegetarian version
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 large tomato, diced
2-3 small Thai green chilies, sliced in half lengthwise
2 large tbsp tamarind paste
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp red chili powder
1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds (methi)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp asafetida (hing)
3-4 cups vegetable stock (or water)
2-3 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large stock or soup pot, add 2 tbsp of the oil and gently sweat the onions, ginger and garlic. When the onions have become translucent, add the spices (salt, black pepper, turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, red chili powder and the bay leaf). Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant and add the vegetable stock (or water). Stir gently and add the tamarind paste and tomatoes. Stir well to combine all of the ingredients. Cover and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes.
In a small skillet on medium high, add 1 tbsp of the oil. When hot, carefully add the black mustard seeds. When they have stopped splattering, add the cumin seeds, green chilies and asafetida. After 30 seconds, remove from the heat and pour this mixture over the soup. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve hot.
To make a non-vegetarian version of this soup, add about a cup or so of hand shredded cooked chicken pieces to the soup base. You can also make the soup using a good quality chicken stock.