Pepper Water is pure nostalgia for me.  As a child I grew up in an Anglo Indian colony and it was always served on a Friday at lunch time along wth some rice and a fish dish.  Perhaps it was the old abstinence from meat on a Friday, for us Catholics, that shaped the menu.  Anyway, it was the most delicious thing and I couldn't get enough of it.  The umami from the tomatoes the sweet sourness of tamarind, the heat of pepper together with the overriding flavour of curry leaf are the same as a Tamilian Rasam which has its origins in the 16th century.  Then came the British, in the 1800s, who added Chicken and vegetables to it and called it Mulligatawny - close to the Tamil for pepper 'milagu' and water 'tanni'.  You can tweak the recipe to your taste with veg and or lentils as we did.

    • In a large pot, pour in a litre of water (4 cups).  Then add in:
      • 3 roughly chopped tomatoes,
      • 1 tsp pepper powder,
      • 1 tsp chilli powder,
      • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder,
      • 1 tbsp tamarind paste,
      • 1 tsp salt.
    • Bring this liquid to a rolling boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
    • Keep the Tadka ingredients ready:
      • 1 small finely sliced onion,
      • 1 fat clove garlic finely minced,
      • 1 tsp mustard seeds,
      • 2 dry chillies (destalked),
      • 1 sprig curry leaves.
    • Heat a separate casserole dish on medium and add 2 tsp oil or 1 tsp pure ghee and the mustard seeds.
    • When the mustard seeds splutter add the sliced onion, dry chillies and minced garlic.  Stir-fry till the onions are translucent then add the curry leaves and the soup.
    • Simmer for 3 minutes then turn off the stove.  Adjust flavours to your taste - more pepper, sourness or salt.
    • Garnish with fresh coriander - lots of it.
    • Serve with rice.

    You can tweak this recipe to your taste with veg and or 1/2 cup lentils.