I not 100% sure how I ran across Mulligatawny—I think I was looking for recipes with lentils—but it was a dish that I somehow had never tried, even with my love for dining on Indian food. I’m so glad I met Mulligatawny, because it’s mighty delicious! It’s not just mighty for its flavors but also because of how many nutrients are packed into this one-bowl meal. It’s a winner. According to ndtv, Mulligatawny is a Tamil word that means ‘pepper-water’ or ‘pepper-broth’.
If you are old enough, you may remember Reece’s peanut butter cup commercials where one person carrying a tub of peanut butter and one carrying a chocolate bar collided, thus sparking the idea for the popular American candy. With Mulligatawny, it’s a case of soup meets rasam. This anglo-Indian favorite may have originated in Sri Lanka and entered India by way of Tamil Nadu via servants who served the soup to the British. Others claim it was an Indian dish that was converted into a soup to accommodate picky British soldiers. From there, different meats were added to the soup and other variations developed … and the rest is history. Today, it’s a popular dish worldwide.
I would never have thought to put these ingredients together, but I’m glad I decided to give it a try. There are many variations to be found, but I’m pretty happy with my vegetarian version. You can certainly use chicken stock and add meat if you prefer. Some recipes I’ve seen call for one apple and one potato. I’m going all in for apples in mine. Feel free to substitute a potato if you want, just ensure you cook the potatoes for a bit before adding the apples and tomatoes. If you don’t like spicy, dial down the pepper. If you love it extra hot, dial up the heat. It’s spicy, aromatic, filling and just plain good.
If you’ve never tried Mulligatawny, it’s worth the effort to make it. The aroma will whet your appetite as you prepare the dish. It’s great as a meal starter or side, or even as a light meal with naan.
“Depression is boring, I think / and I would do better to make / some soup and light up the cave.”—Anne Sexton
- 2 TBSP ghee or olive oil
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 carrot peeled and chopped
- 2 small to medium apples cored, peeled and diced
- 2 Serrano peppers seeded and diced (adjust to taste)
- 1 TBSP lemon juice about 1/2 a medium to large lemon
- 1 TBSP lime juice about 1/2 a medium to large lime
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes or about 1 to 1 1/2 C of fresh diced tomato
- 2 tsp ginger root peeled and minced, or 1 TBSP dried ginger
- 1 TBSP curry powder
- 1 ½ tsp ground coriander seed
- 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- 3 black peppercorns whole
- ½ C lentils
- 4 C vegetable can also use chicken broth
- 1 C coconut milk unsweetened
- Add ghee or olive oil into pot and heat to medium.
- Add onion and saute until onions are translucent.
- Add garlic, peppers, and carrot and heat until carrot begins to soften.
- Add ginger, apples and tomatoes.
- Saute’ for about 3 minutes, then add in all of the remaining spices and, stirring well.
- Stir in lime, lemon, and sugar.
- Add in lentils and broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes.
- Puree’ about 3/4 of the ingredients using a hand-held immersion blender (or remove and use blender). Add coconut milk. Top with scallions, shredded coconut, or cilantro if desired.