Have you ever ordered mulligatawny in an Indian restaurant? I did once and wished I hadn’t: they added water to the dahl and poured it into a bowl.
Mulligatawny is a staple of the classic British Indian restaurant menu, always there, yet never ordered. Like kedgeree and mango chutney, it is part of the culinary legacy of the Raj.
Who knows what the real definition of this soup is and, to be honest, who cares, as long as the quality of whatever variation you happen upon is better that you’ll find in most high street Indian restaurants.
Originally this spicy Madrassi broth, known as molo tunny, or ‘pepper water’, was intended to be served with rice. When it made its journey to these shores, Indian cooks substituted in ingredients they knew would suit the extravagant tastes of the British, bulking it out with meat and vegetables.
Last weekend I was using up the last of the season’s pheasants, so I decided to use the thighs as the base of a mulligatawny, bulking it out with a pulse mix and some root vegetables. This is a much cleaner version than is traditionally served and the reaction when I served it for elevenses was universally positive. So here’s my brand new recipe for a smashing mulligatawny.
Mulligatawny recipe (Serves 4-6)
- 1 tbs ghee or butter
- 4 pheasant or chicken thighs, boned, skinned and cut into rough 1/2 cm chunks
- 1 medium onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1tbs finely grated root ginger
- 1-2 medium chilis, finely chopped
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- The seeds from 10-12 cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 20 or so curry leaves
- 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into rough 1 cm dice
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into rough 1 cm dice
- 30g mixed soup pulses, soaked overnight in cold water
- 1/2 tbls tomato purée
- 1.5 ltr chicken stock
- Salt to taste
- 2-3 tbsp chopped coriander
- Heat the ghee in a heavy based saucepan and gently cook the pheasant, onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and all of the spices over a low heat with a lid on for 4-5 minutes, stirring every so often.
- Add the tomato purée and stock, bring to the boil and add the drained pulses, carrot and parsnip, season with a little salt and simmer gently for an hour or until the pulses are tender.
- To serve, season again if necessary and stir in the coriander.