This Mulligatawny Soup Recipe (Pakistani) is a delicious curried soup first created during the time of the British Raj. Now a traditional part of South Asian cuisine, the soup is a velvety smooth concoction made with lentils, chicken stock, and coconut milk. If you're a fan of lentils or my Khow Suey (Pakistani Curried Noodles) recipe, then you'll enjoy this soup.
Soups are historically not a part of South Asian Cuisine. The only other known popular South Asian soup is Tomato Rasam. The Tamil chefs of the British Raj used this spicy soup to create a fusion recipe that was more palatable for the expatriates. At the end of the Raj, the Mulligatawny soup recipe traveled back to Britain.
Per hindustantimes.com, a gentleman by the name of Dean Mohammed opened The Hindostanee Coffee House in London in 1810. The addition of a Mulligatawny soup recipe to the menu helped make the recipe a household favorite. Eventually, the Heinz company started selling Mulligatawny soup in tins, making it more popular there than in India.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Easy recipe - This recipe is very easy to put together, just like my sweet potato lentil soup.
- Meal prep recipe - This Mulligatawny soup recipe is very freezer-friendly. This makes it a perfect recipe for meal prep.
- Assorted serving options - This soup is hearty enough to be a main course, yet, in a more formal setting it makes the perfect first course.
- Dairy-free and gluten-free - This Mulligatawny soup recipe is ideal for people with dietary restrictions.
- Lentils - After many trials and errors I find that split pigeon peas give this Mulligatawny soup recipe the most authentic taste and texture, one very similar to the soup I grew up eating.
- Tomato paste - A little bit of tomato paste adds some pungency to the soup.
- Broth - Since my soup is a chicken version, I use chicken stock, but a vegetable one works as well.
- Coconut milk - I love adding coconut milk to this Mulligatawny soup recipe. It rounds out all the other flavors and brings the recipe to perfection.
- Rice - I like to use some of the rice to help thicken the soup and the rest as a garnish.
- Bay leaves - Bay leaves smell delicious in a soup and I love adding them for their aroma. Do remember to pluck them out at the end as they don't blend properly during the puree stage.
- Curry leaves - These are an integral part of South Indian cuisine in general and this recipe in particular.
- Curry Powder - A delicious blend readily available at grocery stores, this is the main seasoning for the Mulligatawny soup recipe.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
Substitutions & variations
- Add in some vegetables - Many variations of the Mulligatawny soup recipe have carrots or other seasonal vegetables added to it. Try adding some in for nutritional value or a slight change in flavor.
- Try it with green apples - The British version of the Mulligatawny soup recipe has sour apples added to it. This makes a nice addition to the flavor profile.
- Tamarind - use tamarind paste instead of tomato paste just like the Tamil chefs originally did.
- Different Lentils - Use red lentils (masoor dal) for a lighter, thinner Mulligatawny soup recipe.
- Make it Vegan or Vegetarian - Eliminate the shredded chicken and use vegetable stock instead of chicken.
- First step - Add all of the ingredients except the oil, onions, ginger, garlic, green chilies, and coconut milk to a pot and cook on high.
- Second step - In a separate pan, heat the oil and start to saute the onions and green chilies.
- Third step - Once the onions start to wilt add in the ginger and garlic paste and continue to saute.
- Fourth step - As soon as the onions turn translucent, add this mixture to the Mulligatawny soup and simmer for 20 minutes. Until the lentils and rice are cooked through.
- Fifth step - Remove the bay leaves and then use an immersion blender to puree everything. If you don't have an immersion blender, first cool the soup slightly and then run it through the blender.
- Sixth step - Add in the coconut milk once the Mulligatawny soup has the desired texture.
- Seventh step - Stir to mix and simmer for 10 minutes before you turn the stove off.
- Eighth step - Sprinkle some paprika at the end and then serve the soup with a garnish of basmati rice and shredded chicken.
- Ninth step - While the soup is cooking, you can poach a chicken breast or some tenderloins for the shredded chicken. If you want to skip this step, buy and shred some rotisserie chicken.
- Tenth step - Add the chicken, a halved onion, garlic cloves, and a piece of ginger along with some salt and black pepper.
- Eleventh step - Cook everything for 20-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
- Twelfth step - Remove the chicken to a cutting board to shred it and reserve the broth to use in another recipe, like chicken corn soup or some hot and sour soup.
- Use a good broth - While I do sometimes use store-bought broth, it's always best to make and use a homecooked one in this Mulligatawny soup recipe.
- Cook down the aromatics - Sauteeing the onions, chilies, ginger, and garlic helps release their essential oils, giving the soup a lot more flavor.
- Do add the coconut milk - This adds a silky texture and helps balance all the spices, making this recipe taste like a soup versus a lentil curry, so don't omit it.
- Serve with a wedge of lemon - A small squeeze of lemon at the end is highly recommended.
The name Mulligatawny is a combination of the Tamil words Milagu (black pepper) and Tanni (water). This is a reference to the original Rasam which was modified to create a soup that appealed to the British.
During the time of the British Raj, the Expatriates wanted soup to be served at dinner as a first course. Indian cooks took their Tamil pepper water and created a creamy and dense soup thickened with lentils and rice. Seasoned with traditional Indian spices, Mulligatawny Soup has a unique flavor.
Although Mulligatawny soup is hearty enough to be a stand-alone meal, we Pakistanis love and need our meat! I usually pair my soup with some seekh kebab, tandoori shrimp, or some hariyali green chicken tikka.
Store the Mulligatawny soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 weeks. For best results, defrost the soup in the fridge overnight and heat on low in a pot on the stove.
Other recipes you may like
For more Pakistani recipes like this, check out 20 popular Pakistani recipes. If you decide to try this recipe, Please don't forget to leave a rating and comment below! If you take a picture then tag me on Instagram! Thank You!
Mulligatawny Soup Recipe (Pakistani)
Rice For Garnish
- 4 tbsp basmati rice See notes
- 1 cup water
Chicken For Garnish
- 1 chicken breast
- ½ yellow onion
- 4 whole garlic cloves
- ½ inch ginger piece
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 cups water
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 tsp crushed ginger
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 green chili see notes
- ½ cup split pigeon peas
- 4 tbsp basmati rice see notes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp corriander powder
- 2 tsp curry powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 8 curry leaves
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 lime
- ¼ tsp paprika (optional)
Rice For Garnish
- Rinse the rice three times.
- Boil on high heat with 1 cup water till all of the water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes).
- Cover and set aside for later.
Chicken For Garnish
- Boil the chicken with all of the ingredients and two cups of water till cooked through (about 20-30 minutes).
- Remove the chicken from the water and shred it into pieces.
- Set aside for later.
- Add the chicken stock, pigeon peas, basmati rice, tomato paste, bay leaves, curry leaves, salt, coriander powder, curry powder, and turmeric, and start to cook.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan.
- Add the diced onions and green chili and saute till the onions are just wilted.
- Add the ginger and garlic and continue to saute till the onions are translucent.
- Add this mixture to the soup and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and use an immersion or regular blender to puree the soup.
- Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Serve with a garnish of rice, shredded chicken and a lime wedge.