On mulligatawny soup

On the matter of mulligatawny soup, I stand divided against myself, doesn’t really know what the real thing is, or if there is a real McCoy for this altogether. I have tasted mulligatawny from a couple of restaurants in India, each time the soup presented itself as a concoction different from the one I had before. The texture ranged from being moderately thin to thick enough to almost cut with a knife. Ingredients varied a lot too, but the flavoring spices were probably the same. The soup originated in Anglo-Indian kitchens, while India was under the colonial rule, and the name probably is derived from Tamil words “Milagu thanni” which literally translates to “pepper water”


When I hear the word "thanni", out of all respect for the venerable mother language Tamil, I think of water, flow and clarity. So if I am to conjure up the image of a soup from this name, my first instinct will be to think in line of a consommé, a rasam of sorts. On the contrary, it turns out that this soup nowadays has the status of a complete meal in a bowl, texturally more complex than I originally thought it would be.


There was this one remarkable bowl of Mulligatawny I had, from the roof top restaurant of erstwhile Classic hotel ( nowadays goes by the name Madurai Residency)in Madurai, from where looking at the lighted up ancient city on a mild weather evening was almost an ethereal experience. It was a warm and hearty bowl of chicken soup with vegetables and lentils, with layers of flavor coming from spices like cumin, nutmeg and cloves.


Here is my mulligatawny soup recipe, based on the trace of memory I have about the soup mentioned above, guided by several other recipes around, and utterly devoid of curry powder for good. This is my favorite soup for now. I told you “SOUP” at the beginning of this year, and I am sticking to it.

Mulligatawny soup


Cooked basmati rice – 1 cup
Chicken split breast – 1 piece
Diced mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, beans, corn, radishes etc) – 2 cups
Vegetable bullion cubes – 2
Masoor dal or any other quick cooking lentil – 1/4 cup
Onion Diced – 1 cup
Ginger, finely grated – 2 tbsp
Garlic, finely chopped – 1 tsp
Cloves – 6
Nutmeg powder- 1/8 tsp
Cinnamon powder – 1/8 tsp
Lemon -1
Celery seeds – 1 tsp
Coconut milk – 3/4 cup
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro, chopped – 1/4 cup + enough to garnish
Cumin – 1/2 tsp
Black pepper – Coarsely crushed – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp

Heat oil in a sauce pan. Sauté onion, garlic and ginger till the onions are translucent. Add, cloves, turmeric, nutmeg powder, cinnamon powder, cumin, celery seeds, and masoor dal, mix well with a spoon. Add 5 cups of water, crushed bullion cubes and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Add the chicken piece and vegetables. Turn the heat to medium; add some salt and cook covered for 15 minutes without stirring. Meanwhile blend coconut milk and rice together adding a cup of water till the mixture turns into a coarse paste. Add it to the soup, stir well, turn the heat to very low, and cook covered with out stirring for 10 more minutes. Turn of heat, take the chicken piece out. With the help of a fork and knife shred it into small pieces. Add the pieces back to the pot. Squeeze the juice from a lemon and add to the soup. Add ¼ cup cilantro and crushed black pepper. Turn of the heat. Keep the soup covered for 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro, with a wedge of lime on the side and some crusty bread.

Persimmon-Greek yogurt frozen parfait
It rained through most of the long weekend, my head almost felt like a “muddy mud puddle”. Our little girl uses these words generously to describe anything from a drop of water on the floor to the real thing, but my head definitely was closer to the latter, as a result of my own doings.


I started sorting my food photos from the past several years on Saturday morning, but it quickly turned into a bigger task than I originally thought it would be. Reason, even though I was not blogging often enough for almost two years, it turns out that I was liberally taking photos of almost anything special i cooked or ate. There were abstract photos of licked clean plates and rugged dish towels, about the capturing of which I have no wisp of memory remaining now. The good news is that as of today, my photo folders contain a lot less digital clutter, well worth the effort, even if my head felt like a “muddy mud puddle”

Then we realized that we needed dessert, and there were persimmons lovingly gifted by a friend, waiting to be made into one. If you ask me what the flavor of this fruit is like, following is my answer. Persimmons are peaches trying to be mangoes, who haven’t realized their inner sapotas yet. To let the subtle flavor of the fruit shine through I made a frozen parfait, making of which involves very less cooking of the fruit pulp.

This dessert could easily be prepared using other fruits like mangoes, peaches or even berries. If you are not able to find Greek or any other type of hung yogurt at your grocery, these easy instructions will help you to make some from your home made or store bought yogurt.

Persimmon-Greek yogurt frozen parfait

Persimmons- 2
Greek yogurt or prepare hung yogurt 1 ½ cup
Sugar -1/2 cup + 2 tbsp
Gelatin – ½ tsp

Making caramel syrup
Mix ½ cup sugar with 2 tbsp water in a sauce pan, turn on the heat, and mix well till the sugar dissolves. Now stand back and wait for the sugar syrup to start caramelizing, mix with a wooden spatula till the syrup turns deep golden brown. Turn the heat to low, add 1/4 cup water ,increase the heat a bit with constant stirring till all sugar clumps dissolve. Transfer to a wide mouth glass jar and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours or till it becomes very thick but still scoop-able.

Flavoring yogurt
Gently mix caramel syrup with Greek yogurt, Refrigerate till use.

Preparing fruit puree
Dissolve gelatin in 2 tbsp hot water. Microwave the mixture for a couple of seconds to completely dissolve gelatin. Keep aside. Peel persimmons, puree with ½ cup water and 2 tbsp sugar. Transfer to a sauce pan and heat with constant stirring till the mixture is warm, but not boiling. Turn of the heat; add dissolved gelatin while mixing the puree very well with a wire whisk.

Putting everything together
Now take some shot glasses or jelly molds and spoon some persimmon puree to fill 1/4th of the mold. Freeze for 1 hour. Now pipe in caramel Greek yogurt to fill the mold. Level the top with a spatula or a knife. Freeze for at least 1-2 hrs depending on the size of the mold used. To unmold the parfait, wrap a towel dipped in hot water around the mold, loosen the edges if needed with a knife and invert over a plate.

Weekend cake peek

Here is a cake photo for you fine people, not a new one though.

Cake peek

I have no idea about what impelled me to start sorting out my food photos this morning; the year 2010 is still many many folders away. A rainy, relaxing long weekend chills your neurons well enough to make you believe that it is easy to do the impossible. Hope you all are having fun.

On luck and leftovers

Holiday baking always leaves its trace in the pantry, look for it in January and you will see! A forlorn looking chestnut seriously lacking company to go to the oven, half a dozen pecans , 23 wiggly walnut halves, bits and pieces of cashew nuts, loads of raisins, and some good amount of cranberries in my pantry reminds me of the month of flour and butter that I just baked away. Tossing all these leftovers together with some rice, a couple of pantry staples and handful of herbs and calling it a rice salad – delicious!!!

rice salad 2

Looks like I am off to start a lucky streak this year. Usually, my odds at winning anything is like 1 in 10 to the power of n , where n equals the number of rest of the people on planet earth ( oh, come on, give mathematics a break) Not any more my people, not any more, all the false notions I was harboring about my winning chances are reduced to smithereens now. I have won a copy of the book 500 cheeses at a giveaway in talented Aparna’s blog My Diverse Kitchen. Winning isn’t everything, but it sure makes one boastful. Thank you Aparna.

rice salad 1

Fragrant rice salad

Basmati rice cooked 2 cups
Mixed chopped nuts 1/2 cup
Cooked shredded chicken 1 cup
Broccoli –small piece 1/4 cup
Green bean-small pieces 1/4 cup
Dried sweetened cranberries 1/2 cup
Pineapple-chopped 1/4 cup
Raisins or dried apricots 1/2 cup
Thai basil –chopped 1/4 cup
Cilantro-chopped 1/4 cup
Parsley- chopped 1/4 cup
Crushed black pepper 1 tsp
Cream 2 tbsp
Lemon juice from 1 lemon
Vegetable bouillon cube 1
Garlic-chopped 1 tsp
Cumin 1/4 tsp
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Salt To taste

Heat the rice in the microwave till it is warm to touch. Sprinkle cream and 1 tbsp olive oil over rice, mix with a fork and keep aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil, add cumin, garlic, chopped vegetables, crushed vegetable bouillon cube and stir fry till the vegetables are tender. Add to the rice, add the remaining ingredients except lemon juice and parsley to the rice, toss well. Check the salt. Add some salt to lemon juice if needed and sprinkle over the rice, toss well. Keep covered for 10 minutes before serving


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