Mulligatawny Soup was actually the anglicized version of the Tamil “Melligu -Thani”. (“Melligu” meaning pepper and “Thani” meaning water). As the name suggests it was originally Pepper Water.
The original Mulligatawny Soup can be traced back to the early days of the East India Company in Madras to around the 18th century. It was originally a soup made with chicken or mutton/lamb stock. Mulligatawny Soup had no history in India before the British Raj. Supposedly, it was simply an invention to satisfy the Britishers, who demanded a soup course for dinner from a cuisine that had never produced one till then. The Tamil servants in those days concocted a stew like dish, that contained pepper and  water on the lines of their local “Rasam” or  “Melligu –Thanir.  It was an interesting mix of East meets West, and was the nearest thing to soup in the cuisine of Colonial India.
In course of time a lot of other ingredients such meat, chicken, coconut, turmeric and other spices were added to give it a completely different flavour. A variety of  “Mulligatawnies”, then came into existence which quickly became popular throughout the Common Wealth. Recipes for mulligatawny were quickly brought back to England by the British and its popularity spread through out the country. It has made a lasting impression on British cuisine right down to the present day, though it has undergone many changes. It is still an excellent “Comfort” dish on a cold rainy day and will surely lift the spirits when one is down in the dumps.
The Mulligatawny Soup of today bears little resemblance to the original “MELLIGU -THANI”. And despite the name, pepper itself is not an important ingredient in the dish.
Though purported to be a classic Anglo-Indian dish since it came into existence during the Colonial Era, and was very popular then, Mulligatawny is not a typical Anglo-Indian dish. The real dish we Anglo-Indians call "Pepper water" is actually closer to the Tamil  Rasam than Mulligatawny.  Mulligatawny ultimately culminated into our very own Breast Bone Pepperwater.

An easy recipe for Lamb / Mutton Mulligatwany Soup is given below. You can substitute the lamb /mutton with beef, chicken, veal, etc if desired.

Lamb / Mutton Mulligatawny Soup
Serves 6       Preparation time 30 minutes
1 kg lamb or mutton with bones preferably from the breast portion
1 handful Masoor dhal (Red Gram Dhal)
2 cups coconut milk
2 tablespoons oil
3 green chilies
2 teaspoons red chillie powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt to taste
8 to 10 curry leaves
2 medium size onions sliced
2 tablespoons chopped mint for garnishing
Cook the meat and dhal with sufficient water till tender. Whisk till the dhal is smooth. Heat oil in a big pan and fry the curry leaves, green chilies and onions till slightly brown. Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté for a few minutes. Now add the chillie powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and turmeric and fry for a few minutes till the oil separates from the mixture. Mix in the cooked mutton and dhal and mix well. Slowly add the coconut milk and salt to taste.  Add 2 more cups of water and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the lime juice. Garnish with mint leaves. Serve as a soup or with bread or rice.

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