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Mulligatawny [ˈmɐlɨɡəˈtɑːni] (listen (help·info)) is an English soup with origins in Indian cuisine. The name originates from the Tamil words millagai / milagu and thanni (மிளகாய்த்தண்ணி / மிளகுத்தண்ணி) and can be translated as "pepper-water".
The recipe for mulligatawny varied greatly over the years that there is no single original version. Later versions included British modifications that included meat but the local Madras recipe on which it was based most definitely did not. Early references to it in English go back to 1784. In 1827, William Kitchiner, wrote that it had become fashionable in Britain: "Mullaga-Tawny signifies pepper water. The progress of inexperienced peripatetic Palaticians has lately been arrested by this outlandish word being pasted on the windows of our Coffee-houses; it has, we believe, answered the "Restaurateurs" purpose, and often excited John Bull, to walk in and taste - the more familiar name of Curry Soup- would perhaps, not have had sufficient of the charms of novelty to seduce him from his much loved Mock-turtle. It is a fashionable soup, and a great favourite with our East Indian friends, and we give the best receipt we could procure for it." By the mid 1800s, "Wyvern", the pen-name of Arthur Robert Kenney Herbert (1840-1916), wrote in his popular "Culinary jottings" that "really well-made mulligatunny is, ..., a thing of the past." He also noted that this simple recipe partaken by poorer natives of Madras as made by "Mootoosamy" was made by pounding "a dessert-spoonful of tamarind, six red chillies, six cloves of garlic, a tea-spoonful of mustard seed, a salt-spoonful of fenugreek seed, twelve black peppercorns, a teas-spoonful of salt, and six leaves of karay-pauk. When worked to a paste, he adds a pint of water, and boils the mixture for a quarter of an hour. While this is going on, he cuts up two small onions, puts them into a chatty, and fries them in dessert-spoonful of ghee till they begin to turn brown, when he strains the pepper-water into the chatty, and cooks the mixture for five minutes, after which it is ready. The pepper-water is, of course, eaten with a large quantity of boiled rice, and is a meal in itself. The English, taking their ideas from this simple composition, added other condiments, with chicken, mutton, etc., thickened the liquid with flour and butter,and by degrees succeeded in concoting a soupe grasse of a decidedly acceptable kind."