Mulligatawny Barley Risotto

30 Nov

Mulligatawny soup is one of those old-fashioned dishes that sounds quite exotic, but you don’t really know what it is.  Mulligatawny means “pepper broth” in Tamil. It became popular with the British stationed in India during colonial times and when they returned home they brought the recipe back home with them.

This Anglo-Indian curried soup has many variations using different vegetables & spices and it is often thickened with rice. Freshly ground toasted spices are used to give it a distinctive warming flavour and aroma.

A spicy soup is just the thing at this time of year when you come home from a very long walk. Today we walked all the way down into the Barranco Blanco valley. At the bottom of this beautiful valley they started to build another golf resort/hotel and then stopped when they didn’t get permission. So not only is it a blot on the landscape, it is also abandoned & unfinished.

This is the view from the top, yes we walked all the way down & then back up again! The lake is in the grounds of a beautiful house and you can see on the left the unfinished hotel/resort. It would almost be better for them to finish it rather than just leave it like that, but if its built illegally then no one will touch it and the money just isn’t here anymore.

This is another beautiful property we saw on the way back up. I think that might just be the garage…I’ll just live there if you don’t mind, great view!!

The rumour goes that this “Hidden Valley” is where Franco hid a lot of Hitler’s generals after the war. Might explain the enormous houses and this eerie looking watchtower…

Anyway back to the soup. The recipe I had added cooked rice to the soup at the end. I decided to throw in some barley to cook in the soup towards the end of cooking as I didn’t have any cooked rice and my dad always used to put barley in his soups when I was young. Maybe I went a bit mad with the barley because it turned out like a spicy barley risotto rather than a soup, but it was all the better for it. It has all the ribsticking goodness of a risotto but no stirring! The freshly ground spices really make a difference to the flavour of the dish, don’t miss this part out if you can help it…You can use whatever vegetables you have in your fridge, that’s what I did.

Mulligatawny Barley Risotto

adapted from a Delia Smith recipe

serves 4 vegetarian

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium courgette 1 cm diced
  • 1/2 cauliflower in florets
  • 1 medium potato, 1cm cubed (or some halved baby new potatoes)
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 25 gr butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large cardamom pod (seeds only)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 litre veg stock (or more if you want it soupy)
  • 125 gr barley
  • salt & black pepper
  • fresh coriander chopped

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large pan then add the onions and cook over a medium heat until they are a golden brown colour (About 10 minutes). Now put the cardamom, cumin, fennel & coriander seeds in a small pan with the chilli flakes and dry fry them over a medium heat for about 2 or 3 minutes until they start to splutter & jump. Tip them into a mortar & pestle and crush them finely. (You can also crush them with the end of a rolling-pin in a small cup). Add the spices to the onions, stir to combine then add the vegetables. Season generously with salt & black pepper, cook for 1 minute then add the veg stock and the barley. Put the lid on and cook gently for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

You can serve it like this with some fresh coriander stirred through or for a smoother, thicker consistency ladle out just under half of the soup into a large bowl and blend it carefully (hot soup!) until smooth. Add this puree back into the soup, stir in the coriander and reheat gently. Add more stock to thin it out if you want to. Taste for seasoning and serve in warmed bowls with Anglo crusty bread or Indian parathas.

This really is a delicious soup dish, just perfect for those cold winter nights when you are chilled to the bone and miserable. The comforting warmth of the barley mixed with the aromatic spices is a heavenly combination.

This is one of those old-fashioned recipes that should not be forgotten. If this is where the British love affair with Indian cuisine started then I, for one, am really grateful. I’m bringing Mulligatawny back, you should try it too….

Don’t forget to check out the fantastic November Round -Up of YBR (Your Best Recipe) hosted by Nancy at Spicie Foodie. Click on the badge below to see an amazing variety of delicious dishes with beautiful photos. A real feast for the senses…


11 Responses to “Mulligatawny Barley Risotto”

  1. Nancy/SpicieFoodie December 1, 2010 at 3:02 am #

    Wow what a story. The photos are as beautiful as the dish looks. Thanks for sharing another one of your delicious recipes and for participating in the YBR:)

  2. Kita December 1, 2010 at 5:16 am #

    I had to google courgette, but this sounds amazing. It looks creamy and delicious. I love how many spices there are in here as well.

  3. Tes December 1, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    I love the way that when I read your post, it make me feel like I’m sitting down enjoying this delicious risotto and listen to your stories. I love that you share about Mulligatawny and those amazing photo 🙂

  4. Luna's Recipes December 1, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    mmmm… this risotto looks and sounds delicious. By adding the cardamom seeds, it gives it a new dimension. Thank you very much for sharing… Luna x

  5. Nadia December 1, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    gorgeous! I’ve only has Mulligatawny at restaurants.

    Seems like you has a lovely hike with an intriguing history lesson!

  6. Chelsea @ December 1, 2010 at 9:36 pm #

    This looks so flavorful! Definitely something I would love… I don’t often cook with barley, but this is tempting me to give it a try!

  7. Roxan December 1, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Multigatawny – I totally thought you made up that word when I saw the title of this post! This soup looks wonderful and hearty, definitely in order after that hike of yours.

    So that unfinished resort- are you saying that they started building it before they got permission? No surprise it got shut down. What a beautiful hike though… And interesting things to look at !

  8. Adele Forbes December 31, 2010 at 11:12 pm #

    I loved your take on this special dish and enjoyed reading every word, and the pictures are simply breathtaking. Thanks so much for sharing. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts and getting to know you better.

  9. Nancy/SpicieFoodie January 1, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Hi Natalie, Happy New Year! Thanks for participating in another YBR round up and sharing your delicious recipe with us all. Best wishes for the new year.


  1. Your Best Recipes Of 2010! The Best Recipes From The Food Blogging Community - March 1, 2012

    […] Shop For This Holiday Season 2010 Natalie (aka foodblogandthedog), Cook Eat Live Vegetarian, Mulligatawny Barley Risotto Adele Forbes, In Mama Joe’s Shadow, Shepherd’s Pie A’la Macaroni & Cheese […]

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