Mulligatawny Soup, a very Anglo Indian Dish of the British Raj

Mulligatawny Soup recipe, hot and sour, it dates back to the days of the British Raj, and is the perfect cold weather soup; light, yet remarkably hearty.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

mulligatawny soup

Anglo Indian Recipe

Mulligatawny Soup dates back to the days of the British Raj, when, apparently, the South Indian (Tamil) cooks came up with Pepper Water to satisfy the Brits’ desire for soup with their meals. It was a light, watery soup, flavoured lightly and with pepper.

This pepper water became “Rasam”, a light, but spicy, peppery, tangy soup eaten with rice or roti. And over time, that basic rasam gave rise to the mulligatawny, as returning Brits replicated what they’d been served in India.

But first, let’s look at the name:

In Tamil (south Indian language)
Malligu = Pepper
Thanni = Water
Mulligatawny = Pepper Water

Mulligatawny Soup is a typical Anglo Indian dish, much like kedgeree. It always brings back memories of my grandmother at her kitchen stove in Singapore, frying whole dried red chillies (cough, cough, sputter, sputter!) for this recipe, or when she made Rasam, a south Indian soup.

However, the Mulligatawny of today hardly bears any resemblance to the original, as over the years, it has embraced many, many other ingredients like curry spices, vegetables and meat, even cream, yoghurt and coconut milk. The modern product is a semi-hearty soup that is perfect for our cold and wet months here in the UK.

Kedgeree Anglo Indian Recipe
Kedgeree, another Anglo Indian Recipe

Mulligatawny Soup Recipe

Our mulligatawny soup recipe here stays pretty close to its predecessor, Rasam, in taste; light, hot and tangy, but with more body, like a stew as opposed to a broth.

I’ve included the three defining ingredients of Rasam as I remember them from my granny’s kitchen: black pepper, tamarind and fresh curry leaves. You can do without the curry leaves and use fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) instead.

I know it looks like a long list of ingredients, but you only need to prepare the aromatics, tamarind and vegetables. The rest are all spices. Once you get everything ready, the cooking process is very easy.

Tamarind in Mulligatawny Soup

Click here to read more and for substitutes.

Tamarind is a tropical fruit that grows as a pod on the tamarind tree. The pod or fruit is shaped like a bean and contains a pulp with lots of seeds.

This pulp is usually mashed with water to create “juice” that is extensively used in many cuisines around the world for its souring properties; it is also used for medicinal properties and believe or not, as a polishing agent!

If you can’t get tamarind, the best substitute is the humble, clear vinegar.

Tamarind pods and pulp
Tamarind pods and pulp

How to Make this Mulligatawny Soup Your Own

This soup is very versatile in its “filling”, in that you can make it vegetarian, or use chicken, or any other meat.

The amount of chilli and pepper here will result in a fairly hot mulligatawny soup but not too hot that you’re not able to talk! Perhaps halve the black pepper and chilli powder and check the seasoning at the end. The type of chilli powder and green chillies you use will also determine the end heat, so go easy if you’re not sure!

I put the onion, garlic, ginger and fresh chilli in a chopper and mince them all up together, just like my granny used to. In fact, this is a method I learned from her that I still employ widely for many recipes.

Here, I’m using ground coriander, cumin and turmeric but, for simplicity, 1 tablespoon of curry powder or a general shop bought curry paste will work too, but not too much as curry is not the overriding flavour.

How to serve The Mulligatawny

How do you eat it? Any which way you like! I love to have it with rice, it’s how I grew up eating it, just like a curry. You can have it with bread, roti or even mash, my husband’s favourite.

Stock for Mulligatawny Soup

Just make sure to use good quality, shop bought stock. These days, that shouldn’t be hard to do at all. You can even find fresh stock in the fridge aisles of supermarkets, next to the raw meat.

We tend to have frozen homemade stock at home, but there are always some stockpots handy for when we run out, and because they are also very convenient. These are the ones I use.

One stockpot or stock cube is usually for 500ml (2 cups) of water. So for 1 litre (4 cups), you need 4 cubes or stockpots. However, since our mulligatawny soup calls for half strength stock, you will only need 2 stockpots or stock cubes for the whole litre asked for in this recipe.

Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup

For a vegetarian mulligatawny soup, replace the beef with more stew friendly vegetables like courgettes, leeks and aubergines and adjust cooking time accordingly (see step 5).

For this recipe here, besides the celery, carrots and capsicum, add 1 courgette, 1 leek and 1 eggplant. Chop them up to a similar size.

That’s all there is to it.

Shall we get our aprons on?

If you enjoy the recipe, drop me a comment and let me know. And if you are feeling like a star, don’t forget that 5-star rating!

If you make this recipe, post it on Instagram and tag me @azlinbloor.

Lin xx

More Soups on LinsFood

Head on over to the Soups and Stews page for more ideas from around the world, like the following:

Smoked Fish Solyanka – Russian Smoked Fish Soup
Smoked Fish Solyanka is a much loved Russian Smoked Fish Soup, with bold, sour flavours guaranteed to warm and fill you up!
Get the Recipe!
Homemade Oxtail Stew (it’s so much easier than you think!)
Homemade Oxtail Stew is a rich, flavoursome stew, slow cooked, resulting in meltingly tender, falling-off-the-bone meat.
Get the Recipe!
Dark oxtail stew in grey bowl, with glass of red wine and peppe mill in background
Eshkeneh, Persian Onion Soup with Egg and Fenugreek
Eshkeneh recipe, popularly known as Persian Onion Soup, is made with eggs and fenugreek. You can make Vegan Eshkeneh very easily, by leaving out the eggs and using only olive oil.
Last Updated April 2023.
Get the Recipe!
Eshkeneh, Persian Onion Soup
mulligatawny soup

Mulligatawny Soup, a very Anglo Indian Dish of the British Raj

Mulligatawny Soup recipe, hot and sour, it dates back to the days of the British Raj, and is the perfect cold weather soup; light, yet remarkably hearty.
4.95 from 34 votes
Print Pin Add to Collection
Course: Starter or Main Course
Cuisine: Anglo-Indian
Keyword: british, indian, soups,
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 260kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor


Dry Ingredients 1

  • ¼ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2.5 cm cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves leave out if unavailable
  • 2 dried red chillies

Dry Ingredients 2

  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (or halve this)


  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 5 cm fresh ginger
  • 2 fresh green chillies


  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 carrot
  • ½ red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • ½ green capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 2 medium tomatoes quartered

The rest of the Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 200 g lean beef strips or mince
  • 1 litre half strength beef or chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 4 Tbsp hot water for the tamarind
  • 2 Tbsp tomato purée (concentrate, not passata)
  • ¼ tsp mustard
  • 4 Tbsp red split lentils rinsed



Prepare the tamarind first

  • Soak the pulp in the water for 10-20 minutes. The hotter the water, the less time you need.
  • After the soaking time, give it all good mix, squeezing the pulp with your fingers, then strain through a medium or large mesh sieve. Discard the seeds and pulp. Set aside until needed.

Let's prep the vegetables and aromatics

  • Chop the onion, garlic and ginger fairly finely.
  • Chop the celery, carrot and capsicums up into similar cube sizes, about 2.5cm/1".
  • Quarter the tomatoes.

Let's get Cooking

  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan on a medium heat and add Dry Ingredients 1.
  • When the seeds splutter, add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli mix and sauté for a minute.
  • Add the meat and brown for about a minute, stirring and coating the meat.
  • Add Dry Ingredients 2 and stir thoroughly, frying for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the vegetables, mix and then add all the other ingredients, mixing thoroughly again.
  • Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting and simmer for 30 minutes. At this point, the beef will be done and the soup will have thickened. For the vegetarian version, cook until the potatoes are done.
  • Serve as suggested above, with a sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves, freshly ground black pepper and even some fresh green chilli slices.


Serving: 4 | Calories: 260kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 209mg | Potassium: 788mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 4074IU | Vitamin C: 69mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 4mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
Made it? Upload your photosMention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!

Share this with someone who'll love it!

21 thoughts on “Mulligatawny Soup, a very Anglo Indian Dish of the British Raj”

  1. Debs Fellowes

    4 stars
    Loving the look of this recipe, I have always had this soup with beef and have plans to make a big pot of this over the weekend in the slow cooker with some oxtail that I am defrosting, which should keep me warm for a few days! Yummy, thank you for sharing this lovely recipe.

  2. Anthony Hartill

    Like the look of this recipe and will make it soon. Many seem to use chicken or are vegetarian but the Mulligatawny of my childhood always included ground beef. One thing though in your recipe one of the ingredients is stated to be “2 tbsp tamarind”. I am assuming this is paste but could be tamarind water. Could you clarify, please?

    1. Thank you, Anthony, I grew up eating it with beef too. I’ve edited and updated the recipe, it reads better now. Yes, it was 2 Tbsp of tamarind pulp, before mixing with water.

  3. Elizabeth O.

    I’ve never tasted this kind of soup before but it’s perfect for the colder nights of the year, that’s for sure! I like that it’s spicy as well because I really like spicy food. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. My stomach is always so sensitive to Indian dishes, but this looks amazing. I might just have to give it a try.

  5. Indian dishes are almost always spicy. My hubby and sons find love spicy food and I think they’ll like this Mulligatawny soup. I will have to look for the ingredients and make some for them this week.

  6. Ana Sanchez

    I really love soups. This one looks pretty interesting and like it would be full of flavor!

  7. This soup looks very yummy. I’m going to try to make it when it gets a little colder because my family loves anything spicy. I hope it turns out as good as this photo 🙂

  8. This dish looks very delicious! I normally don’t do spicy food but my family loves spicy. I’m going to try to make this dish for them and see if they would like it. Especially, since winter is coming up on us fast.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating