Inspired by Malaysian laksa, a traditional dish of noodles in hot spicy broth, this easy-to-prepare soup gets its complex flavor foundation from store-bought curry paste. It can be topped with cooked chicken (such as the Chicken with Basil and Lime), seafood, or tofu. Try other traditional garnishes, such as scallions, cilantro, chiles, peanuts, or hard-cooked eggs.
Serve this stew over brown rice or with whole-grain bread. You can also replace the pumpkin with squash or young carrots. The tofu, which is added to the stew in the last 5 to 10 minutes, absorbs the spicy flavors of the broth.
Mulligatawny means "pepper water" in Tamil. It is a traditional soup from southern India, brought to Europe by the British. This vivid version includes chicken broth, coconut milk, lentils, and plenty of spices. This recipe has been adapted from "Curries & Bugles: A Memoir & Cookbook of the British Raj," by Jennifer Berman (HarperCollins; 1990).