This spicy soup is simple to make, and its warming taste and bright colour help to cheer up a cold, wet day – which can be useful in chancy spring weather. You can vary the spices according to taste and availability, or use curry powder if you prefer.
Like chutney and kedgeree, the unusual name ‘mulligatawny’ is a legacy of empire, an Anglo-Indian dish whose name derives from the Tamil word ‘milagutannir’, translation ‘pepper-water’.
There are many variations. I have seen mulligatawny made with chicken or lamb, sometimes with rice. This is a vegetarian (vegan if you use vegetable oil instead of butter) version based on red lentils. It freezes well, so you can make a double quantity and freeze half for later use. The recipe below serves two as a main meal with bread, or four as a first course.
Half a red pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 oz (approx 25 g) butter
0.5 teaspoon (0.5 x 5 ml spoon) ground ginger
0.5 teaspoon (0.5 x 5 ml spoon) cumin
0.5 teaspoon (0.5 x 5 ml spoon) coriander
0.5 teaspoon (0.5 x 5 ml spoon) turmeric
2 teaspoons (2 x 5 ml spoons) tomato puree
Approx 6oz (approx 150 g) tinned tomatoes
4 oz (approx 100 g) split red lentils
1 oz (approx 25 g) raisins
0.5 teaspoon (0.5 x 5 ml spoon) demerara sugar
1 pint (approx 500 ml) vegetable stock or water
Peel and chop the onion. Wash the red pepper, remove the seeds and chop into pieces about 0.5 inch (approx 1 cm) square. Peel and crush the garlic.
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Fry the onion, red pepper and garlic gently in the butter for a few minutes until softened and starting to colour.
Stir in the ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, tomato puree and tinned tomatoes. Cook gently for a minute or two.
Add the lentils and raisins and stir well so that the lentils are coated in the tomato and spice mixture. Add the stock and sugar and bring to the boil.
Season with salt, turn the heat down to low, and simmer over a low heat for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour until the lentils are soft.
Serve hot with bread.
Can be frozen.