Monday, September 9, 2013

Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny soup is of Anglo-Indian origin. Mulligatawny, when literally translated in tamil means "pepper water". My Mofo Post 4 is this classic spicy soup that was adapted by the British during their regime in India trying to mimic the 'rasam' (spicy broth made from spices, tomatoes and tamarind juice) that is quite popular in South India. Several variations can be found for this recipe. 

The western version of Mulligatawny is a rather thick soup made with lentils and thickened with rice and coconut milk (optional). This version is similar to the indian dal but the curry powder makes the soup much more flavorful. The soup has a rich yellow color that comes from using turmeric.

Irrespective of its origin, this soup is simple and delicious, filled with earthy flavors that makes it perfect for any cold night. The addition of vegetables is optional but tastes good any which way its made. The soup tends to be thick but you can add water or vegetable broth to thin it out according to the desired consistency. Give it a try!! 

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to everyone who's celebrating!! At home, I prepared a whole bunch of sweet treats as offerings to God during the festivities. In the spirit of Vegan Mofo and adhering to my theme, these recipes will be posted next month. 


For the curry powder:

2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)

For the soup:

1/2 cup split pigeon peas (toor dal) or red lentils (masoor dal), soaked
2 -3 tbsp rice, soaked
3 cloves garlic
1-inch piece fresh ginger (approx. 1/2 tsp), minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
3 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 tbsp vegan butter (or oil)
1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (adjust to taste)
1/4 cup coconut milk (optional)
1-2 tbsp cooked rice (optional)
1 - 2 tbsp prepared curry powder (I used  1 1/2 tbsp, adjust to taste)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped (for garnish)


Soak the split pigeon peas (or red lentils) and rice separately in water for 20 mins. 

In a skillet or pan, dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and fennel seeds for 3-4 mins until a nice aroma releases from it. Cool the ingredients and grind to a fine powder.

In a stock pot or pressure cooker (much faster method), heat butter or oil on medium-high heat, add onions, ginger and garlic and sauté for 2-3 mins till the onions turn translucent. If you like, you can add 1-2 bay leaves before adding the onions. Add the chopped carrots and sauté for another 3-4 mins.

Add the turmeric powder, prepared curry powder or store-bought, salt and stir well. Sauté for 2-3 mins. Add the soaked split pigeon peas and rice and mix well (if you decide to skip the rice, you can use chopped potatoes instead and cook along with the carrots). Cook for few more mins.

Add water or broth and mix all the ingredients. Pressure cook for about 4-5 whistles (mine took 4) until the vegetable and dal is cooked. Cook for atleast 20-25 mins or so, if using a stock pot or dutch oven. Adjust salt, as required.

Check to make sure the soup is completed mashed, if not use a masher to do so. You can leave the soup as-is (in mashed form) or pureé it for a finer soup. Place the soup on medium heat, add the coconut milk and bring to a slight boil. After turning the stove off, add the lemon juice and stir well.

In a bowl, add a thin bed of cooked rice (optional), ladle the soup and pour over the rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro and some freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot.

Makes 4-5 servings.

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