For a long time I didn’t know what Mulligatawny was. What was this soup that my husband kept asking me to make? So, I did a little research and found that this dish is yet another British hybrid of an Indian recipe only this time made with added beef, thickeners such as flour or coconut cream and usually including a pre made curry powder.
Now, I’ve learned many things in my Pakistani and Indian cooking classes over the years including the necessity of a good pressure cooker, meat tastes better on the bone, always have ginger & garlic paste in the fridge and that very few people in either Pakistan or India use curry powder. What do they use instead? Spices. And good ones at that: cumin, turmeric, coriander, chile, fenugreek, cardamon, cinnamon and a dozen others. That is how you make a good home cooked curry.
Reason demands that I use individual spices rather than a curry powder for a good Mulligatawny. Why stop there? Let’s class it up a bit by the addition of a pile of Basmati rice and slices of seared beef which cooks in the hot broth as it is poured lovingly over the top. Sprinkle on some fresh cilantro and pickled shallots, and you’ve got yourself a Mulligatawny soup to end all others.
2 tbsp tamarind puree
6-12 dried red chiles
1 head of garlic
2 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp salt
10-12 curry leaves
5cm (2tbsp) ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp cumin powder
2.5 L water (10.5 cups) or beef stock
4 onions (thinly sliced)
4 tbsp butter
1 can full cream evaporated milk (~375ml/12.6oz)
300-400g (10.5oz-14oz) topside beef
4 cups (~630g) cooked Basmati rice
handful of coriander/cilantro (to garnish)
pickled shallots (to garnish)
In a food processor combine tamarind, chiles, garlic, mustard seed, fenugreek, black peppercorns, salt, curry leaves, turmeric, cumin and ginger together with 1 cup of water. Blend until smooth.
In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook until carmelized. When nice and brown, add the spice puree and the remaining water (or beef stock). Boil together for 30 minutes on high heat. Turn heat down to low and stir in evaporated milk. Let simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
Season topside with salt and pepper on each side. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan or skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, sear topside for 2-3 minutes on each side. Take out and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice into thin strips and set aside.
To assemble the dish, put 1-2 spoonfuls of cooked basmati rice in the center. Place 3-4 strips of topside on top on the rice and ladle over hot soup on top. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and pickled shallots. Enjoy!
**Can be made vegetarian or vegan. Just substitute the butter with olive oil, the evaporated milk with coconut milk, the beef stock with vegetable stock or water, and the beef with eggplant, mushroom or your favorite vegetarian protein.