Mulligatawny Soup: Indian Pepper Water

Dating back to the time of the Raj a Mulligatawny Soup is an Anglo Indian take on a traditional Rasam and it tastes incredible!

Dating back to the time of the Raj a Mulligatawny Soup is an Anglo Indian take on a traditional Rasam and it tastes incredible!

Mulligatawny Soup: Indian Pepper Water.

You must be warned this Mulligatawny soup recipe comes at you deep from the depths of man flu. We all know man flu is the most crippling illness known to man, it kinda makes ebola virus feel like a stubbed toe.

So I am pretty much on deaths door bed typing this. But please don’t worry about me I will struggle through this and I am sure I will survive… Hold on there is a song in there somewhere.

All joking aside, I don’t get a cold very often and much less so since I left the UK. However, when I do there are two things that happen.

My appetite goes through the roof and my need for hot and spicy food reaches its pinnacle. Mulligatawny Soup is my go-to cold remedy, that and a hot toddy of course.

This delightful Anglo Indian soup is hot, hotter than the surface of the sun.

Almost all of that spice heat comes from the majesty of black pepper. As a spice I think black pepper is greatly overlooked.

Well, maybe not overlooked but certainly taken for granted. It has the most wonderful of flavours and packs the most unique heat.

Very different to that of chili but no less euphoric in its heights and the Indians are masters at taking advantage of its flavour and of course its heat.

If black pepper is your thing you must check out this pork tenderloin recipe. It features the most wonderful Tasmanian Black Pepper that blew my tiny mind!

Dating back to the time of the Raj a Mulligatawny Soup is an Anglo Indian take on a traditional Rasam and it tastes incredible!

Indian Food and Black Pepper.

Black pepper is a huge flavour ingredient in Indian food and features in a host of the spice mixes I rely on. It has been used for over 4,000 years in Indian food and is known as the king of spices. A moniker I could not agree more with!

In many ways, it is the unspoken hero sitting in the background whilst other spices get all the limelight.

Although it is not just front and centre in Mulligatawny soup recipes, it is again the major spice in my Chettinad Chicken Recipe.

It really does have the most wonderfully unique type of heat, very much different to capsaicin found in chili.

Most importantly when buying black pepper buy it whole. That pre-cracked stuff will lose its flavour really quickly once you open the packet. As for that nasty, cigarette ash, powdery nonsense… Well, not even I know enough swear words to adequately describe that stuff!

Most importantly cherish and love those wee black, wrinkly pearls of goodness!

Dating back to the time of the Raj a Mulligatawny Soup is an Anglo Indian take on a traditional Rasam and it tastes incredible!

What is Mulligatawny Soup?

Britain has had a long term love affair with ‘Indian’ food and this dish dates back to a time in British history when the British Empire was at its strongest. India was crawling with Brits that lead to much sharing of both styles and flavours between Indian Food and British food.

Political misgivings aside that ‘sharing’ colours British food to this very day. In everything from our love of a good curry through to the humble Scotch egg.

Yes, the Scotch egg was originally an Indian Nargis Kebab and became the Scotch Egg we know today.

Mulligatawny soup is the result of that ‘sharing’, not only do I love the spice in this soup but also the name.

It is just wonderful, it hails from two Tamil words. One for pepper and the other for water, which is really very apt.

Rumour has it that Mulligatawny soup takes its heritage from the classic Tamil south Indian dish of Rasam. A similarly textured soup which usually had a base of tamarind.

But enough of the history lesson back to biology, I must now sign off and head back to the pharmacy.

Well when I say pharmacy, I mean the kitchen to knock me up another whisky hot toddy to try and shift or at least mask this damn funk!

Dating back to the time of the Raj a Mulligatawny Soup is an Anglo Indian take on a traditional Rasam and it tastes incredible!
Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny Soup

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Dating back to the time of the Raj a Mulligatawny Soup is an Anglo Indian take on a traditional Rasam and it tastes incredible!


  • 4 Tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 5 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 4 Tbsp Black Pepper Corns
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard Seeds
  • 20 g Ginger, Peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, Peeled
  • 2 Tsp Ground Turmeric
  • 2 Tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Mint Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Ghee, Use butter if you cannot get ghee
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 4 Cloves
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 150 g Onion, Finely diced
  • 1 Tomato: Finely diced
  • 75 g Carrot, Finely diced
  • 1 Stick Celery: Approx 50g Finely Diced
  • 50 g Leek, Finely sliced
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 300 g Chicken Thigh, Boneless and skinless and cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp Plain Flour
  • 500 ml Chicken Stock
  • 400 ml Coconut Milk


  1. Toast off the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and pepper corns in a dry pan and then grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder.
  2. Place the garlic and ginger in a grinder and blitz to form a paste adding in the toasted and ground coriander, cumin, pepper and mustard seeds along side the turmeric, chili powder, turmeric, fenugreek and mint sauce then blitz to form a paste. Use water to help this come together and add as needed.
  3. Heat the ghee over a medium heat in a largish saucepan and add the cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon stick and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Now add in the tomato and onion and cook down for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Now add the carrot, leek and celery and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Then add the spice paste, stir through and add the chicken thighs and cook for 2-3 minutes so everything is coated.
  7. Now stir through the plain flour and additional turmeric and cook out for two minutes before adding in the chicken stock and salt then reducing the heat to low and allowing to simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  8. When simmered fish the chicken thighs and shred before returning to the pan with the coconut milk and bring to temperature adding salt as required.
  9. Make sure you remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves before serving.


I always double up on this recipe and make enough for 4 and a generous 4 at that, as it makes the most wonderful lunch treat the day after having it as a main.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 651 Total Fat: 48g Saturated Fat: 30g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 15g Cholesterol: 132mg Sodium: 562mg Carbohydrates: 37g Fiber: 8g Sugar: 7g Protein: 28g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

27 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. I have been eating mulligatawny soup since I was big enough to lift the can out of grandma’s cupboard. I have made mulligatawny soup before but never with chicken. My father served in Burma and along the northern west frontier of India during WW2 and as you say, he brought back a love of all things spicey. Ground beef or lamb was always used and always, always with the addition of basmati rice. Never had it with mint sauce either although I can see how that would go well with lamb. Your version looks amazing and I am looking forward to making it tonight. Thank you.

    • Thanks Len… I guess chicken in a Mulligatawny soup is something that I was always bought up with, the mint is a north Indian influence in what was originally a southern Indian inspired dish. Hope you enjoy!

  2. Looking forward to making this! I’m in the States, so maybe that’s why I don’t know what you mean when you call for mint sauce. How can I procure it? Thank you kindly!

  3. Great recipe and I love the pictures too. Beautiful.
    I have made rasam quite a few times but it’s the Sri Lankan style and it’s soooo delicious and as you say it’s best when going through illness, cold or flu in particular. The best antibiotic one should try when trying to get well.
    I have never added mint sauce, that definitely an interesting addition that I must try.
    Thank you for sharing this lovely and delicious recipe.

  4. Being from the UK, I am familiar with mulligatawny but now I think of it, I’m not sure if I’e actually had it. It sounds wonderful, though, and something I know my husband would like with the spice kick!

    • I think for most Brits Mulligatawny soup was a can your gran had in the cupboard but nobody ever ate… I only started cooking it as my love of Indian food developed in my early 20’s, so last week ok 😉

  5. When I get the cold or flu I get a huge appetite and crave hot foods also. This always bummed me out. I always gain weight when I am sick from more eating and lack of movement, where others loose weight….. If you are going to get sick, you should at least be able to loose a pound or 2 right? This soup looks OUTRAGEOUS! I want spicy food ALL OF THE TIME. I can’t wait to get my hands on a big bowl of this. Saving this recipe to make soon.

    • Oh man I know how that feels, I can always tell when I have a bug coming. I eat the food all of the food and am constantly hungry, really bizarre! Spicy food is my mojo too, I love the stuff, this is possibly the spiciest thing I cook 😮

  6. Hi Brian, just want to check the measurements for the peppercorns 4tablespoons seems quite a lot & 1 tablespoon mustard seeds seems the sam…..I would love to try this recipe & don’t want to make any mistakes…many thanks in advance..Clare

    • Hi Clare, those numbers are correct, this is fiercely hot with black pepper and that is meant to be the dominant flavour… As with all spice it can be reduced although I would not go less than half or you will lose the balance. Spice tolerance is a very personal thing though so obviously you should make your own judgement 🙂

  7. I seem to be the only one of your fans who has tried out the recipe of the Mulligatawny soup in real life.
    First I had to learn how to pronounce the name, but it turned out that this is a very well known soup in England. It would be interesting to know if anybody at all has ever heard of it in Hungary – esp. around Tisza tó. Despite of my expectations it was quite easy to get the ingredients on the market – including mint sauce. To prepare the soup was a bit time consuming – but was worth every second of it. Mulligatawny is and remains for me and my husband as precious as our gulyásleves or the halászlé. We are very grateful for the recipe, for the exact proportions and the know how.

    • Thanks Eva… Many people, myself included use food websites as inspiration rather than as a source of a recipe, but it is wonderful to hear that that you use it is a recipe source. My neighbours all think of Indian food as curry and nothing else and even then it is something they have heard of but never eaten, beyond the curry flavoured ‘lays chips’ they released last year that quickly found their way into the bargain basement. Indian spices are very easy to get hold of in the UK particularly in the Midlands, I am so glad you discovered this recipe here and that you like it. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  8. ??? new addition to my winter bucket list! I have all the ingredients except the mint sauce, can I substitute it with fresh mint?

    • Hi Claudia, of course you can, mint sauce is a combination of mint sugar and vinegar and the addition of a little sweetness and sourness helps, but it is very much an accent and not a major flavour so just add to taste 🙂


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