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Chicken Mulligatawny

a bowl filled with different types of food on a table

Photo: James Lenhart / Contributor 

The British Empire wreaked colossal havoc during its nearly 300 years of occupation in India, but a few silver linings emerged. It commissioned the planting of tea leaves in the mountains of Assam and Darjeeling, where the trendy masala chai was born. The British also embraced the cuisine with such enthusiasm that there’s now an Indian restaurant on almost every block in England.

Legend has it that one time an Englishman asked his South Indian cook to prepare a soup as a starter — and soups being unfamiliar to his Indian cuisine, the ingenious cook created the Mulligatawny (“molo tunny” in Tamil means “pepper water”) by combining rasam, a traditional peppery lentil broth with vegetables. It went on to become a popular dish among the British Raj in India, and today there are many versions of this soup, from a simple boiled chicken stock with rice and carrots to a velvety vibrant soup with vegetables, including this one.


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