Mulligatawny Soup Meets Ham and Hamagatawny is Born

Mulligatawny Meets Ham and Hamagatawny is BornHamagatawnyLast Saturday two cultural food icons clashed in my kitchen and I am happy to say that the result was delicious. In one corner stood an Indian soup whose creamy components swilled in a thick stew peppered with carrots, celery, split peas, rice and curry. In the other corner stood the lone challenger, a slow-cooked ham roast mired in salty juices. The only common ground between these polar opposites were the apples which both Mulligatawny and ham absolutely adore.

Now, for a little history: according to various internet experts, Mulligatawny has it’s origins as a Tamil pepper soup. It was adapted for British citizens stationed in colonial India and rounded and toned-down to appeal to more tame tastebuds (what ho!). The recipe made its way back to England and then across the pond to commonwealth nations as a popular curry dish enjoying global popularity (even Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi loved it). Mulligatawny was originally made as a vegetarian soup with peppers but has since been adapted to include chicken, vegetables and apple.

Apples have been consumed with pork for ages. The groundbreaking BBC series Tales From The Green Valley follows a group of historians and archeologists as they go back in time and spend a year living on a farm in Wales as people would have done 400 years ago. In the kitchen, the marriage of pig and apples was doted upon even then. Presumably, these two ingredients came to know each other well owing in part to their seasonal ripening. Pigs fattened all summer were slaughtered in the fall, right about the time when apples were dropping from the trees. Preserved salt pork and root cellared apples often served as winter staples throughout the cold season. Since the age of Shakespear (at least) northern European cultures ate apples with pork.

But try as I might, I couldn’t find a Mulligatawny recipe with ham in it. The reason for that comes from religion.  Hindu is the most popular religion in India. Hindus are traditionally vegetarians and so meat in general is off the menu. Muslims (which represent another major religious force in India) are prohibited by scripture from eating pork products as pigs are seen as unclean. Probably the only reason Mulligatawny even got chicken in it in the first place was because the English in India insisted on it…..Well the time had come to try something new and with Mulligatawny in one corner and ham in the other the intermingling of these two heavy weights was imminent.

In fact, I believe I’ve found a new favorite. This soup has it all. It is thick, rich and thoroughly satisfying. I’m sure you’ll agree that dawn of Hamagatawny will be a golden age for soup indeed.

1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp ground cumin*
1/2 tsp turmeric*
1/2 tsp ground coriander*
1/2 tsp fenugreek powder*
5 c. soup stock
1/4 c. white rice
1/4 c. green split peas
1 c. cooked cubed ham
1/2 c. heavy cream

In a large saucepan heat your butter and oil over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, ginger, celery and carrots, stirring every now and then for about 5 minutes then add your spices and stir for another minutes- letting the spice open up and mingle with the oils. Stir in the flour and then slowly pour in your soup stock. Pour in your rice, apple, ham and green peas, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pot. Add more hot water if the soup seems too thick.  Remove from heat and pour in your cream. Salt to taste and serve to your near and dear.

* instead of separate spices, you could use 2 1/2 tsp of curry powder in a pinch


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