Mulligatawny, an Indian-Brit recipe, means “pepper water” in Tamil (“miḷaku” is pepper and “tanni” is water). This was my favorite soup growing up. The list of ingredients may seem a little daunting, but just think of the cooking spread over two days (like we do), and it’s a cake walk. There is nothing complicated to make this (other than the prep and measuring of spices). I have made it with my mother before, but this time documented while she cooked, and am now presenting her recipe to you.
It’s got a complex flavor coming from the sweetness of the coconut and onion, spiciness of the chili and pepper, and a complex aroma from the broth and Indian spices. The soup is a beautiful golden yellow color, specked with green, and has a soft texture and smooth finish. The chicken basically just melts in your mouth. Served on brown rice it is an excellent and complete dinner.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ghee
1 1/2 teaspoons black mustard seed
1 tablespoon cumin, ground
1 large Vidalia onion, 1/2 inch chopped
3 small Italian frying peppers, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 piece of ginger 1 x 2” peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons tumeric
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 can organic chickpeas, blended with their water
7 cups homemade chicken stock
3 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup organic coconut milk
2 teaspoons garam masala
3 pound young, organic bird, boiled and chopped into bite-sized piece
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, minced
1/2 lemon thinly sliced
In an 8 quart heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil on medium-low. Vagar the cumin and mustard seeds, then add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the frying peppers. Saute until the onion is soft and translucent, but not browned, around 10 minutes. Add in the ginger and fry for 30 seconds. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add the tumeric, ground coriander, and chili flakes and stir for 30 seconds.
Now make a rue: Turn the heat to low. Add in the flour and whisk for 2 minutes until there is no raw flour smell and none exposed. Add the chickpeas and continue whisking on low until they’re all incorporated. Add the chicken stock in a steady stream, continuing to whisk. Once there’s enough liquid, you can dump in the rest of the broth all at once.
Turn the heat back up to medium. Continue to whisk every 30 seconds as the soup thickens. Once it comes to a boil, turn down and simmer for 15 minutes. While it’s simmering, add in the salt and coconut milk. Add in the black pepper. As it starts to thicken, stir every 20 seconds, dragging your whisk across the bottom so it doesn’t stick. After about 10 minutes, add the garam masala. If you feel you need more stock, you can add it in at any time (it should be at least at room temperature) and stir.
After 15 minutes, stir in the chicken with a spoon. Add in the fresh coriander. Turn off the heat, put a lid on, and let it sit for at least an hour to blend the flavors. Before serving, turn the heat back on to low. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Lay the lemon slices (we used lime because we didn’t have lemons) on the surface and serve with brown rice. It will taste even better the following day.