MULLIGATAWNY soup was one of the earliest dishes to emerge from the new hybrid cuisine which the British developed in India, combining their concepts of how food should be presented with Indian recipes. Like so many Indian-based dishes, the British brought the recipe back home where it continues to be one of the good things on the dinner table along with many tasty curries to have come out of Britain's colonial past.

It's a relic of British rule in India, but in Britain and many parts of the Commonwealth, mulligatawny soup remains a much-loved classic.

It's part of the culinary legacy of the Raj, an Indian dish modified to suit colonial tastes, in this case a thin, spicy Madrassi broth known as molo tunny, or “pepper water,” intended to be served with rice.

Ironically, this great gastronomic hybrid is basically ignored by Indian restaurants. And it's virtually unknown in the Philippines, which is a pity as it's really excellent.

To the best of my knowledge, the only place where mulligatawny soup is served on a regular basis in the Philippines is at the Manila Club in Makati City.

Dating back to around 1877, the Manila Club is believed to be the oldest private membership club in the country. As far back as anyone can remember, mulligatawny soup has always been a regular item on the menu.

The club's chef, Esrael "Ace" Vergara, is tight-lipped about the recipe, but says it's been handed down over the years from chef-to-chef.

He does say, however, that it contains ham, chicken, peppers and a variety of Indian spices. Maybe the club's recipe was brought back from India by a member all those years ago.

But here's one recipe that's not secret:

Mulligatawny Soup ingredients serves 4-6

- 2 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil

- 1 onion, finely sliced

- 1 carrot, diced

- 2 celery sticks, diced

- 4 garlic cloves, crushed

- 2 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger

- 2½ tsp Madras curry powder

- ½ tsp cayenne pepper

- 1.5l chicken stock

- 1 boneless, skinless chicken thigh (optional)

- 150g masoor dal (split orange lentils)

- 4 Tbsp flaked almonds

- 100ml hot milk or water

- 1 Tbsp calamansi juice

- Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped


Heat the fat in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion. Cook for about five minutes until soft and golden, then add the carrot and celery and cook for another five minutes then scoop out a spoonful and set aside.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or so, then add the curry powder and cayenne pepper and stir for a minute. Pour in the stock, add the chicken and dal, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the almonds in hot milk or water.

Remove the chicken from the pan. Blitz the soup with a hand blender until smooth, then whizz the almonds to a puree and whisk them into the soup. Add lemon juice and salt to taste. Pull the chicken apart into strands and stir into the soup along with the reserved vegetables.

Divide between bowls and garnish with coriander.

Now you can enjoy the classic mulligatawny soup your own way.