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  • Writer's pictureThea

West Indies Style Mulligatawny

Tamarind Pods, Photo by Thea ©2019

This fragrant South Indian soup, used as a cure for indigestion and originally known as “pepperwater” in Tamil, later became a popular English soup. While there are many variations on this recipe I have found this one, which I developed over time and inspired by my time in the Caribbean and love of Indian food, to be the easiest and the best. It is where East meets West! Mostly thought of as a curry soup, this recipe is closer to the original Tamal version and uses garam masala and tamarind, which has a complex flavor profile. Tamarind when combined with some kind of sweetener adds a subtle, sweet and sour flavor to any dish. In this recipe, the sweetener is a pinch of brown sugar and coconut milk. To learn more about the health benefits of Tamarind, visit: Wisdom of the Plant Devas: Herbal Medicine for a New Earth.


I cup red lentils (masoor daal)

1 quart organic vegetable or chicken stock (low sodium)

½ cup boiling water

2 onions, thinly sliced

bay leaf

2 tablespoons ghee

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tablespoon grated or chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon garam masala

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon coriander

1 tablespoon tamarind pulp from a compressed block of tamarind

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

basmati rice

Wash lentils and let soak for a few hours. Drain and simmer in stock with 1 sliced onion and bay leaf till soft. Meanwhile cover tamarind pulp with boiling water and let soak, mashing occasionally with a wooden spoon. Heat ghee in frying pan and add 2nd sliced onion, garlic and ginger and fry until transparent and golden. Add garam masala and fry for a few more minutes. Remove from heat. Strain tamarind, add liquid to frying pan and stir well to loosen spices that may have stuck to bottom of pan. Add to soup with salt and simmer for 10 minutes. Add coconut milk, heat through and stir well. Serve with basmati rice.

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