From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Mulligatawny is an English version of an Indian soup that is usually made with curry and a small amount of chicken. The name literally means "pepper water". Although Bob and I had many soups while we were in India, we were never served this one, and, to my great embarrassment, I had never made it. Several weeks ago, I was introduced to the cooking of Madhur Jaffrey and her recipe for the soup caught my attention. I promised myself to try it once the activity in my kitchen moved from mazurka to waltz time and that opportunity presented itself last night. I was so excited about the results that I almost bumped my scheduled post. I stopped only because I wanted to see how this soup aged. I had it again for lunch today and I'm really happy to report my socks are still going up and down. This recipe is a treasure, especially for those who like food with a little bite. The predominant flavors here are garlic and ginger but they are perfectly balanced and neither will overwhelm the palate. I know the recipe looks involved but better than half the ingredients are spices and the soup is really easy to make. I have made very few changes to the original version. I did find the soup to be very thin, so I doubled the amount of potatoes used to thicken it and I used chicken thighs rather than the breast called for in the original recipe. I served the soup with rice for those who wanted something a bit more substantial. I really hope you will try this. I found it to be extraordinary and it will appear often on my table. Here's the recipe.

Mulligatawny...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Madhur Jaffrey


12 ounces red split lentils

2 quarts chicken stock

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 or 2 medium russet potatoes (8 to 16 ounces)

10 cloves garlic, peeled

3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely grated

9 tablespoons water + 2 cups

14 ounces chicken breast or thigh, boned and skinned

2-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons lemon juice


1) Combine lentils, chicken stock and tumeric in stock pot or large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar, turn heat to low and simmer 30 minutes.

2) While soup is simmering, peel potatoes and cut into 1/2 in dice. After 30 minutes of cooking, add potatoes and continue simmering another 30 minutes with lid slightly ajar.

3) Put garlic and ginger in electric blender or food processor with 9 tablespoons water and blend into a smooth paste.

4) Remove all fat from chicken and cut into 1/2 inch dice. Put chicken in a bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper over it and toss to mix.

5) After soup has cooked for 60 minutes total, puree. Add remaining 2 teaspoons salt and mix.

6) Pour oil into empty skillet or saucepan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add garlic/ginger spice paste, the cumin, coriander and cayenne. Fry, stirring continuously until spice mixture is slightly browned and separates from oil. Put in chicken pieces. Stir and fry another 2-3 minutes, until chicken pieces become opaque. Add reserved 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Add to pureed soup. Stir in lemon juice and taste for seasoning. Simmer soup very gently for another 2 minutes. Yield: 10 servings.

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