Mulligatawny Soup: The South Indian Pepper Water, Recipe Inside

Mulligatawny is a soup that combines British and Indian ingredients to create a somewhat sour, slightly sweet, and highly filling dish. This well-known soup comes in a variety of forms; some have rice, others coconut milk, others are vegetarian, and still others have meat. Lentils, spice, and sweetness are key components. The roasted spices and sweetness in this Anglo-Indian cuisine are the main ingredients. They depict the palates of both civilizations. In contrast to many recipes, this one uses both an apple and a sweet potato to provide a more subdued sweet flavour. A spoonful of curry powder completes the mixture and creates the marriage of sweet and savoury that is common in many Indian-influenced meals throughout Britain. Toasted, then ground whole spices give this soup depth. 


½ tsp whole mustard seeds 

½ tsp whole cumin seeds 

½ tsp whole coriander seeds 

2 tbsp vegetable oil 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1 pound (about 3 large) chicken thighs 

1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup) 

1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup) 

1 celery rib, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup) 

1 tbsp curry powder

3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon) 

1 inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated 

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces 

1 apple, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces 

1 plum tomato, cut into 1/4 inch pieces 

1/2 cup dry red lentils 

6 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth, or water 

Greek yogurt, to garnish 

Finely chopped cilantro, to garnish 

Red chili flakes, to garnish 


In a skillet, combine the mustard, cumin, and coriander seeds. Cook over high heat for about 3 minutes, or until the spices start to smell toasted. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, then process until powdery. 

Vegetable oil is heated in a big pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Salt the chicken thighs, then put them to the pot skin-side down. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the skin is golden, then turn them over and cook for another 4 minutes, or until both sides are brown. Transfer to a plate, then set aside. 

Cook the onion, carrot, and onion in the pot, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Stir in the curry powder and roasted spices after adding them, coating the veggies completely. Stir in the garlic, ginger, sweet potato, apple, and plum tomato. Return the chicken thighs to the pot after adding the lentils. Bring to a simmer, then cover with broth or water. Cook for about an hour, or until potatoes and lentils are tender and the soup has thickened. 

Take the thighs out of the broth, slice the flesh, and then put them back in. Yogurt, cilantro, and red pepper flakes are served as garnishes, with salt and pepper to taste.