Mulligatawny: a Soup Apart
This one’s too easy not to share. And too good to keep it all to myself.
Mulligatawny is one of the signature dishes in all of Indian cuisine. It’s a soup, in the same fashion that a Rolls Royce is a car, or a Rolex is a watch, or Linda Ronstadt is a voice.
Friday night in the time of the pandemic has become, for many of us, just another night. Boring. Routine. Yawn. I suspect that many of you share this sad way of life. Not because you’re boring, or unimaginative or worn out. I for one have fallen into the pandemic-driven blahs. I think you know what I mean.
We’ve decided to change that. Friday nights are special—should be special—so we’re making it so. It’s the end of our work week (the days all have run together this year, what with working from home and all, so that all the days have started to look the same.
Not any more.
Now I suspect many of you have reached this point already, but we are, I guess, a little slow.
But special it is. And we started at the top-shelf Lancaster restaurant Himalayan Curry & Grill. Which brings me back around to mulligatawny. Himalayan makes it as good as I have ever tasted. Thick and rich, sweet and spicy, familiar and comforting.
But then, hey, I can do that! My teacher taught me that flavor trump’s heat in a spicy dish, and that’s what this dish wants most of all—spicy, but flavor forward. I cruised the recipes on line, and came up with my own version, using only what I have on hand.
You should try it. It’s actually one of the easiest soups I have made, and yet so flavorfully complex. You should try it.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red jalapeno, seeded and finely minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger root
2 small firm apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup red lentils (uncooked)
3 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
Salt and black pepper to taste
Chopped cilantro and/or scallions for garnish
1. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion, carrot, and jalapeno, then saute for 4 to 5 minutes or until the onions have softened.
3. Add the garlic, ginger, apples, and diced tomatoes to the pot. Saute for another 3 minutes, then add in all of the spices and toss to coat. Add in the lentils and broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
4. Puree about 3/4 of the ingredients by transferring the soup to the bowl of a standard blender. You may need to do this in two batches. Leave some of the vegetables whole, as it adds texture and consistency to the soup. Return the soup to the pot, then stir in the coconut milk, and bring the soup back to a slow simmer. Adjust the flavor to your liking with salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
5. Serve topped with chopped cashews and cilantro or scallions along with naan bread for dipping.