Wednesday, 4 February 2009

A Mulligatawny Morning.....

This morning, Margaret and Arthur, my lovely neighbours called – bearing a gift. They are such a charming couple, well into their 70’s and our local ‘senior’ senior citizens.

Margaret, who had been busy in the kitchen, had brought me a flask full with home made Mulligatawny soup, just right for luncheon and to ward off the effects of our current cold, snowy weather blowing in from Siberia.

There indeed lay the inspiration for this blog. I did offer to take a photo of them to include but they couldn’t be persuaded, despite my claims of overnight world celebrity status for them…

Arthur, with characteristic dry humour said to me in a stage aside that at his age he couldn’t be bothered with groupies and autograph sessions – this, together with the priceless look on Margaret’s face had us all in fits of laughter.

Anyway, more about Mulligatawny soup…

Despite its Irish sounding pedigree, its origins can be traced back to the early days of the British Empire in India, notably the East India Company in Madras. The word itself is a corruption of the Tamil name for ‘pepper water’, ‘milligu-thannir.

Like many favourite Anglo-Indian dishes, the soup is an adaptation of a local recipe to best utilize the meats, fruits, spices and vegetables found in India. The British ‘memsahib’s’ (married European woman, ma’am and sahib) were indeed adept at ‘making do’ or ‘making the best of it’.

There are many and varied recipes for this soup, the common denominator being spiciness and a 'curry' flavour.

Here is Margaret’s recipe which serves four:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1 potato, diced
2oz basmati rice
4oz lamb fillet, diced
2 tbsp mild curry paste
2 pints vegetable stock
Small bunch chopped fresh coriander
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened, then add the carrots, parsnip, potato, rice and lamb and cook for one minute.

2. Stir in the curry paste, then add the stock and mix well. Then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

4. Pulse a hand blender in the soup a couple of times to purée it slightly, then stir in the coriander.

5. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and garnish with a few coriander leaves.

6. Serve with warm Naan bread or fresh, crusty rolls.

Enjoy this authentic taste of the days of the Raj!


  1. Wow this is making me hungry! I used to make mulligatawny a lot, but haven't in years. My recipe has apples and chicken in it. Margaret's recipe with the lamb sounds heavenly. Thank you.

    Maybe you can persuade them to let you take a picture of them another time. Tell them their public is begging! :)

  2. Thanks for including the recipe. I cannot wait to try this. May even toddle down to the local market to see if I can scare up all the ingredients.

    Native Americans here use lamb quite a lot in their stews but green chili instead of curry. Still spicy.

  3. Hello Michael,

    What could be more appropriate than a bowl of mulligatawny at the moment?! You're a lucky man.

    I also like your new, snowy header!