Mulligatawny and Colonialism

Mulligatawny!  Yum, yum, yum.  We all love it.   This is a famous Scottish soup with flavors of tropical India — curry and coconut — blended with apples, potatoes, tomatoes,  onion and chicken.  You absolutely must try this soup, and not just for how it tastes.  It provides a wonderful opportunity for discussing the subject of colonialism with your high schoolers,  and how the food of the British Isles was greatly improved by serious, long-term contact with countries to the east.  If only that contact had been limited to the peaceful exchange of food, culture, and genetics and hadn’t involved exploitation, racism, and violence. Oops, that’s the anthropologist coming out in me . . . . sorry to wax socio- political, but I can’t help it.   But seriously, compare Scotch Broth, the first recipe I cooked,  a plain lamb soup with not much flavoring other than the meat, undoubtedly with its origins in pre-19th century Scotland, with Mulligatawny — and give me a break, there’s no comparison.  At least to my taste buds.  But I’m willing to entertain other opinions if anyone out there wants to challenge me.

And by the way, “mulligatawny,” according to that infallible source of the people’s information, Wikepedia, means “pepper soup” in Tamil, but this version that I cooked is certainly not hot or peppery, although it does have a green pepper in it.  I suppose you could try hot Indian  peppers if you were so inclined.

Here’s the recipe:


  • 4 lb. chicken cut into serving pieces
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 2 sour green apples
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. gluten free flour (I used Pamela’s Baking and Pancake mix)
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 3 quarts Chicken stock (I used a fancy bouillon paste for expediency)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 Tbs. parsely, minced
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt  (if your stock has salt in it, as with bouillon, limit this)
  • 3 small tomatoes
  • Prepared boiled rice.

In a large soup kettle, brown the chicken in the butter.  Add the apples, onion, green pepper, and carrots and brown lightly, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the flour and curry powder, and blend well.  Add the chicken stock and coconut, and stir over low heat for five minutes.  Add the cloves, parsley, sugar, and salt, and simmer until the chicken is tender.  Remove the chicken and set aside.  Peel the tomatoes (or not), remove seedy goop, and chop coarsely. Add to the soup and cook at a low boil for 15 minutes.  Take chicken pieces, remove bones and skin, and cut into small cubes.  Let the soup cool a bit* and then run it through a blender.  Add the chicken, reheat, and serve with generous spoonfuls of boiled rice.

This recipe is another great soup from The New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook, by Yvonne Young Tarr, adapted and modified slightly.

*Be sure to let it cool and don’t be an idiot like me; I put it into the blender hot, even though I knew full well what could happen, but I ignored the voice of experience and as soon as I pressed the lowest button on the console, the blender lid exploded under my hand sending hot soup raining down like splats of lava all over my kitchen.

About tamisrenteria

Tamis Renteria, author and anthropologist, writes novels and short stories about people struggling with different religious, spiritual, and cultural traditions. She lives with her husband and youngest son in Tucson, Arizona where she types on a Mac, cooks ethnic food, and gardens among the sahuaros.
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2 Responses to Mulligatawny and Colonialism

  1. Tania says:

    yummy… I’m hoping your blog will inspire me to do more cooking… thanks for sharing

  2. Cynthia says:

    Mmmm, this sounds like one we would like!

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