Translated literally from Tamil, "Mulligatawny" or "Milagu thanni" means "pepper water" ("Millagu" means pepper and "thanni" means water). The dish the Anglo-Indians call "pepper water" is actually closer to Tamil ரசம்-rasam (pronounced russ-um) than "mulligatawny".
There are many variations on the recipe for mulligatawny. In the West, the soup typically has a turmeric-like yellow colour and chicken meat, beef, or lamb meat. Often it is thickened with rice.
In Tom Stoppard's play Indian Ink, two characters compete to use as many English words of Indian origin, as listed in the Hobson-Jobson glossary, as possible. One line reads: "I was buying chutney in the bazaar when a thug who had escaped from the chokey ran amok and killed a box-wallah for his loot, creating a hullabaloo and landing himself in the mulligatawny".