Recipe for a snow day: Mulligatawny
When your doorstep, car and city are buried under 2 feet of snow, the situation calls for a very specific meal:
Something warm, filling and maybe even a little spicy to melt the chill away from snow-shoveling husbands returning home from their seasonal duties.
Something satisfying but not too high-calorie to compensate for the lethargic laze of a snow day spent mostly on the sofa.
Something cooked from scratch that draws heavily on one’s deep pantry and requires minimal fresh ingredients (it’s not exactly good weather for running out to the store, you know?)
For me, today that meal was a nice big pot of Mulligatawny (literally: “pepper water”): a heavily-seasoned Indian soup that commonly (but not always) features lentils.
I love this recipe, which I’ve adapted over the years from one served in the now-defunct “Daily Soup” restaurant chain and published in their eponymous cookbook, for lots of reasons. First, it takes advantage of my beloved spice collection, calling for a laundry list of Indian seasonings that I’ve collected over years of dabbling in South Asian cookery. Second, the prep effort is minimal: just one onion to chop and some ginger and garlic to mince. Everything else is just opening cans or measuring spices. Third, it fills the house with an intoxicating perfume… a nice touch when you’re likely to be stuck indoors until the Spring thaw. Oh, and lastly: it’s insanely delicious. Sort of like a spicy Indian chili of sorts.
If your pantry is extra-well-stocked and you happen to have a package of pappadum laying around, fire up the gas range and toast a few of them on the open flame using a pair of tongs. (See photos below). Pappadum are those round crackery snacks served at Indian restaurants and made from lentil flour; they’re gluten-free and are sold in shelf-stable packages at Indian groceries. Pick up a package next time you run into them; they’ll last an eternity in your cupboard and add a restaurant-quality flair to your next Indian-style meal.
Adapted from The Daily Soup Cookbook, makes ~12 cups or serves ~8 people
1 TBSP minced ginger2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBSP canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup black mustard seeds
1 TBSP garam masala
2 tsp tandoori spice mix (OR, can use 1 tsp cumin + 1/2 tsp ground coriander + 1/2 tsp turmeric instead)
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (leave this out if you don’t tolerate spicy!)
1 28 oz can OR 2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes
5 cups cold water
1 lb brown lentils, rinsed and picked over to remove debris
1 cup lite coconut milk
Optional: 1 10 oz bag spinach (great if you happen to have it; if not, can leave it out)
1 TBSP lemon juice
Optional garnishes: 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or anything green you have on hand; fresh mint or chives work well) and/or plain fat-free greek yogurt (to tame the heat if desired)
- Heat oil in a large stockpot
- Add ginger, garlic and onion. Saute about 4 minutes until soft and golden.
- Add mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop
- Add: garam masala, tandoori spice mix, curry, salt, caradmom, cayenne. Stir to coat vegetables.
- Add tomatoes (with their liquid), stir well to combine, and simmer for 5 minutes,
- Add water and lentils and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, simmer for 1 hour until lentils are tender.
- Stir in coconut milk and simmer 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in spinach (if desired) and lemon juice.
- Serve garnished with cilantro and/or plain yogurt as desired
Approximate nutritional info per serving (assumes recipe serves 8 and includes spinach. Does not include yogurt garnish): ~310 calories, 44g carbohydrate (of which 19 enormous grams are fiber! That’s almost a full day’s worth for women! That amount of fiber means this portion has a net of 25g of carbohydrate, or about 2 diabetic exchanges), 16g protein, 8g fat. It also has about 6mg iron (30% of the daily value for women).Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.