Mulligatawny soup. Haunting flavours of lentils, Indian spice, ginger, garlic and lemon. So tasty. Make this when you want something different. Something out of the ordinary. When your main course flavours are assertive. It doesn’t have to be an Indian dinner. Leave the chicken out and you have a nice “cream of” soup without the cream. Or serve it before a curried dish to add a bit of western structure to your meal. Doesn’t matter. It will not disappoint. 

Haunting flavours of lentils, Indian spice, ginger, garlic and lemon come together wonderfully in this smooth, flavourful mulligatawny soup.

Mulligatawny soup comes from Colonial India. Pretty sure it didn’t exist before then. Kind of like a tame sambar, it’s a refined view into Indian cuisine. This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s Illustrated Indian Cookery. I think it’s out of print. Really too bad – it’s a great introduction to Indian home cooking. Probably the best one I’ve ever found. Certainly one of my favourites. I’ve had my copy forever.

5 from 2 votes
Haunting flavours of lentils, Indian spice, ginger, garlic and lemon come together wonderfully in this smooth, flavourful mulligatawny soup.
mulligatawny soup
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins
Classic Indian flavours come together in this mulligatawny soup. Leave the bits of chicken out for a smooth, sophisticated Indian flavoured soup.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4
  • 1 cup red split lentils - also known as masoor dahl
  • 4 cups low or no-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 oz potatoes cubed
  • 2 Tbsp garlic/ginger paste - recipe link below
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs or 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Spice Mix
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp mild kashmiri chili powder or 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  1. Combine lentils, chicken stock and turmeric and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes. Simmer another 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot so it doesn't boil over.
  3. Puree the soup in batches. Your blender works best. Return soup to pot.
  4. Trim visible fat from the chicken. Cut into 1/3 inch chunks.
  5. Add oil to a clean frying pan. Heat over medium heat.
  6. Pay attention at this point. Add the garlic ginger paste and fry, stirring constantly until the splattering stops.
  7. Add the spice mix and continue to stir constantly for another 30 seconds. Regulate your heat. Don't let the spices burn!
  8. Add the chicken and continue to stir. Cook chicken until almost done - about 3 minutes.
  9. Add chicken mixture to soup pot. Simmer 3 minutes. Add lemon juice. Simmer an additional 2 minutes.
  10. Thin the soup with stock if needed. Adjust seasoning.
  11. Serve with a spoonful of raita or drizzle with a bit of heavy cream.
Recipe Notes

If you don't have garlic ginger paste make some. Combine equal quantities by weight with a 50/50 mix of vegetable oil and water to form a thick puree. Need more info? The recipe for garlic ginger paste is here.


7 thoughts on “mulligatawny soup

    • I hope you try it some time. It’s delicious. For the garlic ginger paste I coarsely chop equal amounts of garlic and ginger by weight and toss it in a blender. Enough oil and water to get it to puree and I’m done. Keeps for a few weeks in the fridge and so much better than the jarred stuff.

  1. This looks so fantastically creamy. This is definitely going into my personal recipe library. As a cookbook junkie, I actually have a very hard time finding good indian cookbooks, probably because I don’t really know what to look for – it’s a shame it’s out of print 🙁 Is there any other indian cookbook you recommend? 🙂

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