Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny Soup Recipe - NYT Cooking
By Sarah DiGregorio

YIELD 6 servings

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.


1⁄4 cup vegetable oil

1 red or yellow onion, minced


8 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped

2 tablespoons minced ginger (from about 2 inches of peeled ginger root)

2 teaspoons black or brown mustard seeds

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder*

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cayenne, plus more to taste

1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 celery stalks, sliced

1 large apple, preferably Granny Smith, peeled, cored and chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste*

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Step 1

Warm 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 2

Add 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 3

Cover 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 4

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks

1 cup masoor dal (split red lentils)

6 cups chicken broth or stock*

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk*

Juice of 1 lime (about 11⁄2 tablespoons)

Stir in the coconut milk and squeeze in the lime juice. Serve in bowls topped with a dusting of cayenne, if desired.


I added 2 extra teaspoons of curry powder and about 3 more tablespoons of tomato paste. Could do with more. I used 1 qt of Swanson’s chicken broth and 2 cans of Campbell’s chicken broth. I only used the creamy part of the coconut milk as it would have made the soup too thin.