Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Mulaga tawny


Recommended Posts

I have been interested in the background to the development of Mulligatawny soiup. To me it appears to have been developed at the insistence of the British who were congenitally incapable of adapting to local cuisines and hence demanded a soup that they could have at the start of a meal.

One of the myths that I find odd is that it was invented as there were no indigenous equivalents. However when I think about the cuisine of Kerala I am reminded of the Rasam that is favoured there.

So. Is there such a thing as soup in Indian cuisine? Was Mulligatawny (Mulaga tawny) developed for the British? I would find any contributions extremely interesting.

Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

See David Burton's, _The Raj at Table_, Chapter 8, "Soup":

"Before the arrival of the British, the concept of soup as a separate course was unknown to Indian cookery. Such soups as there were had been used as thin sauces, poured over plain rice and mixed with dry curries, but never drunk by themselves, due to the Indian custom of serving all the dishes of a meal at the outset rather than course by course.... When the British arrived they insisted on a separate soup course...." He goes on to say that there was a tendency among some Indian cooks to simply make these soups out of the previous day's leftovers, and so an "authentic" mulligatauny is difficult to establish.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi john

We seem to be jumping between continents here!

Your comments seem to support what I was saying. The Rasam from Kerala is a liquid that is poured over rice at the end of the meal - and interestingly (if there is such a word) after the taking of dessert. Is there anywhere else in the world where a savoury course (Rasam and rice) is served after the dessert?

Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not heard of the custom of taking rassam poured over rice after dessert.

Thanks for sharing something new.

Malaga Tanni, is what people believe to be the root of Mulligatawny.  And yes it does refer to a rassam like soup and the two words loosely translate as:

Malaga - pepper

Tanni - Water

Pepper rassam is a famous rassam from Southern India.  In fact when I was young and grew up with Southern Indian neighbors, they did just the very opposite of what you point out.

As one would offer a soda, water or some cocktail to guests upon their arrival into ones home, in Southern India we were always served some version of rassam.  Piping hot, in glasses and with chunks of tomatoes, chilies and cilantro.  The rassam is very runny, nothing more than just water that is spiked with spices and often laden with chunks of veggies.  

Rassam was served as a first initiation to the very rich tapestry of food that would be presented as the meal unfurled. The rassams gave the homes a wonderful aroma and I do believe they build your appetite.  I actually feel they also tease your taste buds and make them hungry for more heat and layers of spicing.

Some in my friends' families would also have rassam with the meal.  They would dip pappadum in the rassam, some would drink more with the meal and others would finish the meal with the eating of rassam and plain rice.  I saw those that did that as mostly cleaning their banana leaves, since the rassam being water would wash all the gravy and oil from the other dishes.  It is an art to be able to eat rassam and rice with your hands.  Since the rassam just seeps into the bottom of the platter. But those that eat this often, know just how to dexterously use their fingers into lifting the rice mashed with rassam and laden with the liquid and get nice moist rounds of rice and rassam into their mouths.  I could always look at their expressions and know that they were in heaven.

Rassams are as old as Southern Indian culture.  But the concept of drinking soups out of bowls and making a course out of them seems to have been borrowed from the west.

Is the preparation of Mulligatawny as we see it today authentic to Southern India?  That remains a debate with almost no end.  But the very name makes it easy for all to understand the origins.  But the soup today is quite different from the pepper rassam it was adapted from.

PS: I will call a cousin-in-law I have from Kerela and ask her more about this topic. Will keep you all posted.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As one would offer a soda, water or some cocktail to guests upon their arrival into ones home, in Southern India we were always served some version of rassam.  Piping hot, in glasses and with chunks of tomatoes, chilies and cilantro.  The rassam is very runny, nothing more than just water that is spiked with spices and often laden with chunks of veggies.  

Oh, this is very interesting.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John

I forgot about the English eating cheese after dessert!

Suvir

Thanks for the detailed reply. I had a look to see where I had read the bit about eating Rasam at the end of a meal.

It was at:

Travel.Indiamart.com

What they have on their site is:

The hot Rasam, served after a delectable array of sweets, is a tangy deviation from the symphony of tastes and is poured on another serving of rice. The famous British 'Mulligatawny Soup' is said to have derived its flavour from Rasam.

Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...
I have been interested in the background to the development of Mulligatawny soiup. To me it appears to have been developed at the insistence of the British who were congenitally incapable of adapting to local cuisines and hence demanded a soup that they could have at the start of a meal.

One of the myths that I find odd is that it was invented as there were no indigenous equivalents. However when I think about the cuisine of Kerala I am reminded of the Rasam that is favoured there.

So. Is there such a thing as soup in Indian cuisine? Was Mulligatawny (Mulaga tawny) developed for the British? I would find any contributions extremely interesting.

Do you have a recipe that you can share?

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...
I have not heard of the custom of taking rassam poured over rice after dessert.

Thanks for sharing something new.

Malaga Tanni, is what people believe to be the root of Mulligatawny.  And yes it does refer to a rassam like soup and the two words loosely translate as:

Malaga - pepper

Tanni - Water

Pepper rassam is a famous rassam from Southern India.  In fact when I was young and grew up with Southern Indian neighbors, they did just the very opposite of what you point out.

As one would offer a soda, water or some cocktail to guests upon their arrival into ones home, in Southern India we were always served some version of rassam.  Piping hot, in glasses and with chunks of tomatoes, chilies and cilantro.  The rassam is very runny, nothing more than just water that is spiked with spices and often laden with chunks of veggies.  

Rassam was served as a first initiation to the very rich tapestry of food that would be presented as the meal unfurled. The rassams gave the homes a wonderful aroma and I do believe they build your appetite.  I actually feel they also tease your taste buds and make them hungry for more heat and layers of spicing.

Some in my friends' families would also have rassam with the meal.  They would dip pappadum in the rassam, some would drink more with the meal and others would finish the meal with the eating of rassam and plain rice.  I saw those that did that as mostly cleaning their banana leaves, since the rassam being water would wash all the gravy and oil from the other dishes.  It is an art to be able to eat rassam and rice with your hands.  Since the rassam just seeps into the bottom of the platter. But those that eat this often, know just how to dexterously use their fingers into lifting the rice mashed with rassam and laden with the liquid and get nice moist rounds of rice and rassam into their mouths.  I could always look at their expressions and know that they were in heaven.

Rassams are as old as Southern Indian culture.  But the concept of drinking soups out of bowls and making a course out of them seems to have been borrowed from the west.

Is the preparation of Mulligatawny as we see it today authentic to Southern India?  That remains a debate with almost no end.  But the very name makes it easy for all to understand the origins.  But the soup today is quite different from the pepper rassam it was adapted from.

PS: I will call a cousin-in-law I have from Kerela and ask her more about this topic. Will keep you all posted.

Yup: Rasam in soup cups as appetizer is a new trend,

with the advent of dinner party entertaining. People used to

serve veg soup, then rediscovered rasam. It became trendy again.

Otherwise the old way of eating rasam was with rice.

Milagai

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...