Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chicken Mulligatawny

One of the things that I love about this time of year is the cool breeze that comes when the sun goes down reminding us that winter is just around the  corner. And with cool weather comes hearty soups.  I couldn't wait to break out my soup pot since it hadn't been used since last winter.   As I drove out to the South Fork of Long Island I passed a couple pumpkin patches that were already in full bloom. This would be the perfect for Chicken Mulligatawny I'll mark the season by adding pumpkin.  I couldn't wait to get home and make it. 

Now according to author and food consultant Bridget White-Kumar, the original Mulligatawny Soup can be traced back to the early days of the East India Company in Madras to around the 18th century. It was originally a soup made with chicken or mutton/lamb stock. Mulligatawny Soup had no history in India before the British Raj. Supposedly, it was simply an invention to satisfy the Britons, who demanded a soup course for dinner from a cuisine that had never produced one until then. The Tamil servants in those days concocted a stew like dish that contained pepper and water on the lines of their local “Rasam” or “Melligu –Thanir. It was an interesting mix of East meets West, and was the nearest thing to soup in the cuisine of Colonial India. Mulligatawny Soup was actually the anglicized version of the Tamil “Melligu -Thani”. (“Melligu” meaning pepper and “Thanir” meaning water). As the name suggests it was originally just pepper in a watery soup.

Over time a lot of other ingredients such meat, chicken, coconut, turmeric and other spices were added to give it a completely different flavors. I am sure that if you asked one thousand people from England to India how they make this soup, you will get 1000 versions.  Well this is my version.  You may find it odd that I use roasted chicken but for some reason rotisserie chicken in my neighborhood is cheaper than fresh whole chicken.  It is well seasoned and quite delicious.  You can use whatever chicken you like.  I am sure it will be just as good.

Chicken Mulligatawny 


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon minced Serrano pepper
1/2 cup diced leeks
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
6 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 can light coconut milk
1.5 quarts chicken stock
2.5 cups cooked urad dal or lentils
1.5 cups cooked millet
1.5 cups diced pumpkin
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2  zucchini diced
1 roasted chicken, skin removed diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt to taste
Finish with fresh scallions

In a large soup pot heat olive oil.  Add ginger, garlic, Serrano, onion, leek and carrots.  Sweet until onions become translucent and carrot are tender.
Add coriander, cumin, Garam Masala, turmeric, thyme and  bay leaf.
Continue cooking for about 2 minutes then add coconut milk, stock, urad dal, millet, pumpkin and tomatoes.
Let simmer until pumpkin gets tender but not mushy.
Add chicken, zucchini, salt, lime juice and cilantro.
Simmer for about 15 minutes more.
Taste taste taste.
Adjust flavors as desired.

Once ingredients are well married,  you are ready to enjoy this delicious dish.  Ladle it in bowls and garnish with fresh scallions.  

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