An Indian soup may be created from vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian ingredients depending on the recipe. India is a vast country and most regions have distinct customs, religious customs and strict dietary laws regarding the food that is consumed through the year. As a result, it is possible to find a wide range of simple and complex soups that are prepared according to festivals, health conditions, religions, regional differences and seasons.
History of Indian Soups
Preparations Soup courses was not traditionally a part of Indian food culture. The Mogul rulers of North India popularized the use of thin gravies or broths that were served as appetizers before meals. These were very similar to soups but were referred to as shorbas. Shorbas were prepared by simmering meat and vegetables in water with a few herbs. The thin broth was then separated from the vegetables, cut into pieces and served separately. This thin broth could then be consumed as an appetizer before the meal or added to gravies. These soups were well known in North India. However, in a classic South Indian meal, the rice and gravies were served together and this was usually followed by a sweet dish. There was no such soup course.
The advent of the British into India resulted in their insistence on milder dishes and a distinct soup course. Stumped chefs then adapted local gravy dishes like rasam to form thinner milder versions called as Mulligatawny or melligu-thani or pepper water. These were then served as soups to the British. However, apart from the British, a large range of other cultures also influenced Indian cuisine.
Indian Soup Recipes: Ingredients Used and Preparation Overview
A large range of ingredients are used in Indian soup recipes. However, the basic technique for making soup remains the same. Meat or vegetables are simmered in water to extract the nutrients. Flavoring ingredients like herbs, spices, and bones may be added as required. The vegetables may be pureed and added to the soup to thicken it or served separately as a side dish. A tadka or a hot oil-chilli-garlic-asafoetida-onion garnish may be added for aroma.
Serving and Eating Indian Soups
Most Indian soups are served hot. Steamed rice or toasted bread is served as an accompaniment. Condiments like vinegar, lemon juice, sliced pickled onions, salt and pepper may be served alongside to each diner to add to his/ her soup according to personal tastes.
Variations in Indian Soup Recipes
The ethnic and cultural diversity of India means that there are a large range of soups in the country. A few of the more popular ones are as follows:
• Melliga-thani is one of the most well-known soups in South India. It was prepared by simmering meat or chicken, with vegetables and a minimum amount of spices to suit the British residents of India. Till date, nearly every Indian restaurant will have some form of the soup on their menu.
• Popular shorbas or soups that are still prepared in North India are zirabaj or cumin soup, Chicken and lentil shorba, yakhi which is a kashmiri mutton soup, mushroom shorba, dal palak shorba made from lentils and spinach, paya shorba or goat/sheep trotter soup, etc.