Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mulligatawny Soup

a little mortar and pestle action - coriander seeds
I've got a thing for Mulligatawny Soup.  With my first pregnancy, it was my number one craving, and just like the pregnancy stretch marks, it's never gone away.  A perfect meal is an order of garlic nan and a steaming bowl of soup - usually from Shalimar.  There's something about the spicy wonderfulness that makes me feel content - true comfort food.  I've been looking for a recipe for mulligatawny for a while, but there seems to be an incredible variety of mulligatawny versions and I am easily overwhelmed by choices.  Yesterday, I bit the bullet and settled on this recipe for my framework.  I say framework because, people, it's soup.  I really can't be overly concerned with measuring ingredients for a soup unless it's a consomee' or a bisque (neither of which I've ever made) because, in my mind, soup is an item that is meant to be spontaneous and loosely constructed.  And, yes, we're talking about soup, not relationships.  :)
lots of onions, garlic and garam masala

I've been meaning to get to the Indian market on Central Avenue for a few weeks, and gathering ingredients for this soup provided me with the perfect opportunity.  The market was pretty impressive but a bit overwhelming, since I don't really have much experience with cooking Indian cuisine.  If you're looking for basmati rice, inexpensive spices or dried legumes, this is definitely a place you should check out.  There is a kitchen in the rear of the store and prepared foods are also available.  I thoroughly enjoyed the samosas I bought, finding them to be flaky, spicy and generally damned delicious.  And cheap.  I ended up purchasing 2 lbs of onions, 2 lbs of split red lentils, a 7 oz (?) package of garam masala and the samosas for $8 and change. 

deliciousness in less than an hour!
When I make soup I like to make a large pot of it - which leaves me plenty to eat, share and freeze.  I sort of doubled the recipe and would estimate I used almost 2 lbs of onions, about 10 garlic cloves, and perhaps 5 cups of split red lentils.  The process was pretty simple, saute the onions in some olive oil until they brown up, add the chopped garlic, spices and lentils and then add stock and coconut milk. I pretty much eye-balled all the spices, and threw in a few tablespoons of cardamon seeds, as well, since the recipe didn't call for any and I love them.  I omitted the chicken and the rice called for in the recipe, but used chicken stock (maybe 10 or 12 cups), which could easily be replaced with vegetable broth to make a vegetarian version. I also skipped the pureeing part because I like a dense soup and why dirty the blender?  I was pretty darn liberal with the seasonings, and finished the pot of yum by adding salt and some generous squeezes of fresh lemon juice.  This is a really easy soup to make with limited chopping - just the onions and the garlic, and I will certainly make it again.  Now, I can satisfy this craving at home.  Mission accomplished.


  1. Love, love, love Parivar. Glad you finally made it. I've been working my way through the menu at the kitchen in the back, and everything I've had has been solid.

    It's a great place. Everyone should go.

  2. Okay, okay, now I've got a thing for Mulligatawny Soup as well! I've never had it from Shalimar. It may very well be what I order up for lunch tomorrow. I've got a head cold and it looks like just the thing.
    Also, love the mortar and pestle. Darn, I forgot to add that one to my Christmas wish list.