Mulligatawney, pepper water in Tamil, has graced the tables of eating establishments for well over 200 years; (Dr.) William Kitchiner’s THE COOK’S ORACLE; AND HOUSEKEEPER’S MANUAL ,of 1827, includes the following recipe with footnote to attest to the soup’s popularity in Georgian London. This celebrity chef’s cookbook also includes possibly the first reference to potato crisps and the Wow-wow sauce parodied in Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook from Terry pratchett’s Discworld – not sure whose recipe to follow for that one!

Curry, or Mullaga-tawny Soup.—(No. 249.)

Cut four pounds of a breast of veal into pieces, about two inches by one; put the trimmings into a stew-pan with two quarts of water, with twelve corns of black pepper, and the same of allspice; when it boils, skim it clean, and let it boil an hour and a half, then strain it off; while it is boiling, fry of a nice brown in butter the bits of veal and four onions; when they are done, put the broth to them; put it on the fire; when it boils, skim it clean; let it simmer half an hour; then mix two spoonfuls of curry, and the same of flour, with a little cold water and a tea-spoonful of salt; add these to the soup, and simmer it gently till the veal is quite tender, and it is ready; or bone a couple of fowls or rabbits, and stew them in the manner directed above for the veal, and you may put in a bruised eschalot, and some mace and ginger, instead of black pepper and allspice.

… and as a footnote …

Mullaga-tawny signifies pepper water. The progress of inexperienced peripatetic palaticians has lately been arrested by these outlandish words being pasted on the windows of our coffee-houses. It has, we believe, answered the “restaurateur’s” purpose, and often excited John Bull to walk in and taste: the more familiar name of curry soup would, perhaps, not have had sufficient of the charms of novelty to seduce him from his much-loved mock turtle.

This palatician’s version is peppery but creamy, with a depth of flavour that John Bull has rarely encountered.

For a warming pick-me-up, serve with basmati rice and chicken – or red lentils, if vegetarian.


Serves 4

2tbsp ghee or butter
1 large carrot; peeled and diced
1 large celery stick; diced
1 red onion; diced
5 garlic cloves; thinly sliced
2tbsp fresh ginger; grated
1 sweet potato; diced
1 parsnip; peeled and diced
1 apple; peeled, cored and chopped
2tsp garam masala
1tsp turmeric powder or 2tsp grated fresh
½tsp cayenne pepper
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock – homemade if pos.
2tbsp almond meal
Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper

1tbsp mango chutney, to serve
1tbsp plain yoghurt, to serve
fresh coriander leaves, to serve
squeeze of lemon juice

  1. Heat the ghee or butter in a medium-sized pan. Add a tablespoon of oil if using butter.
  2. Add the carrot, onion, celery and parsnip – gently cook and soften for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute before incorporating the spices.
  4. Pour in the stock, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. If you are adding dahl (red lentils), this is the point to add them.
  5. Add the almond meal before transferring the soup to a blender. Blend till smooth.
  6. Season to taste.
  7. Ladle into bowls adding cooked chicken and basmati rice if using.
  8. Finish the mulligatawney with the mango chutney, yoghurt and coriander leaves along with a squeeze of lemon juice.


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