This soup is a British-Indian cuisine hybrid, the result of colonizers’ encounters with rasam — a spiced, soupy dish often enriched with lentils, sometimes served over rice — from Tamil Nadu, a region in southern India. “Milagu tannir,” which means pepper water, was how Tamil people described some versions of rasam; it morphed into mulligatawny when the British made it thick, chunky and meaty. In the cookbook “Classic Indian Cooking,” the author Julie Sahni wrote that she fell in love with mulligatawny when she first encountered it in Germany. “The present version bears no resemblance whatever to the traditional rasam,” she said, adding, “Because of its unorthodox origin, Indian cooks have had a field day exercising their creative genius with it.” This version is thickened with a roux, masoor dal and coconut milk, and bolstered with chicken thighs and tart apple. Curry powder is not a traditional Indian ingredient, but it reflects the dish’s British influence.
- Serves: 6 persons
- ¼cup vegetable oil
- 1red or yellow onion, minced
- 8garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
- 2tablespoons minced ginger (from about 2 inches of peeled ginger root)
- 2teaspoons black or brown mustard seeds
- 1teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1teaspoon curry powder
- ½teaspoon ground cayenne, plus more to taste
- ½teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2celery stalks, sliced
- 1large apple, preferably Granny Smith, peeled, cored and chopped
- 2tablespoons tomato paste
- 3tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1cup masoor dal (split red lentils)
- 6cups chicken broth or stock
- 1(14-ounce) can coconut milk
- Juice of 1 lime (about 1½ tablespoons)
Step 1Warm the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and shrunken, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring, until fragrant and softened, about 2 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, turmeric, curry powder, cayenne and cumin seeds, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mustard seeds pop and sizzle, about 90 seconds. Add the carrot, celery and apple, and cook, stirring, until just starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, then the flour, and cook, stirring well, to uniformly coat all the ingredients, about 2 minutes.
Step 2Add the chicken, masoor dal and chicken broth. Season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pot. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
Step 3Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes, then uncover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the chicken and carrots are tender, the soup is creamy, and the flavors have blended.
Step 4Stir in the coconut milk and squeeze in the lime juice. Serve in bowls topped with a dusting of cayenne, if desired.