In 1972 I left London for sunnier climes… well, Lancashire. It was actually dark, dismal and it rained a lot and despite its quite high Asian population their restaurants were a pretty poor show. And as time went by and things improved considerably (not the weather I may add) I could never, never ever find a Mulligatawny Soup that didn’t consist of something resembling a bowl of curry with some rice throw in as an afterthought. Mulligatawny is GREEN! Mind you, no sleight on Lancashire as I have never experienced The Taj Mahal’s Mulligatawny Soup anywhere, and I mean anywhere other than in Streatham.
Around 2005 I found myself in Streatham. It didn’t take long before I strolled along the High Road and there on Leigham Court Road was The bloody Taj Mahal – just as I remembered it! But surely after 33 years they couldn’t still be serving up the same soup, no not possible but just maybe, maybe. My heart raced and that usually only happens when I am watching Chelsea play or a pretty woman smiles at me.
I didn’t recognise the interior nor the menu which reflected dishes served up in 90% of the UK’s curry houses.
Downhearted I reluctantly ordered Mulligatawny Soup and Chicken Dupiaza…
It was early evening and I couldn’t stand the anticipation so I decided to eat at 6pm.
And whilst nibbling a poppadum or two I engaged the waiter who turned out to be the manager. I told him I frequented the establishment in the late sixties and early seventies and I asked who the owner was today and he told me that he was, having bought the business from the original owner, Mr Khan. He further explained that it opened in 1961 – one of the first in south London and after selling up Mr Khan returned to India having purchased a tea plantation with his profits.
The soup arrived – a bowl of curry with a slice of lemon. It was disappointing, the chicken with pillau rice was OK.
The owner did ask me how the soup fared, he could tell by my dejected reaction and I think he felt a little sorry for me.
Anyway, if you don’t mind fast forwarding to 2013 I’ll continue.
One evening in July I found Rick Stein’s India on BBC’s iPlayer. I like Rick, India and Mulligatawny Soup of course so I watched it knowing that the TV series is to sell a book. I have them all (I know, I know)… and blimey, in one of the episode he visits The Madras Club and they cook Mulligatawny Soup and it is GREEN!
Now, I have bought cookery books on the strength that one of the recipes is my much longed for but never forgotten soup.
And since 1995 I have scoured the internet but to no avail. I have never found a recipe that produces GREEN Mulligatawny. I even badgered my Indian friend, Amit who works and lives in Pune – his wife was bound to know?
Books, the internet and Amit’s wife drew a blank but thanks to Rick things have changed.
So this evening instead of sitting on my roof terrace enjoying the sunshine and a glass of something chilled in heat of 40°C I tried to recreate, the real, proper and pukka Mulligatawny Soup – the GREEN version.
It wasn’t such a bad attempt and over the months I am going to tweak it until it becomes Streatham’s finest, Andaluz style.