WF2 Recipe: Mulligatawny Stew

There is a ridiculously long list of new recipes on my whiteboard that I want to share with you, but that requires re-making them, picking out cute photo props, taking a photo, then writing up the blog post — all of which seems impossibly daunting right now. My thoughts are like this: OMG, WE’RE MOVING TO VERMONT IN, LIKE, 6 WEEKS, AND WE NEED TO PLAN THE MOTHER OF ALL MOVING SALES AND DAMN IT! WHY DID I PLAN TO GO TO A CONFERENCE AND A PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL OF THIS?!

I’m keeping my commitment to lifting heavy things and meditating and getting 10,000 steps every day and eating Whole30 style, which means the meals on our plates lately are pretty unimaginative: usually variations on grilled meat, salads/raw veggies, sweet potato hash, and berries. I have zero extra energy to figure out exciting meals… which means I don’t have new recipes to share with you… yet.

Instead, I thought I’d post a few cookbook recipes that I’m relying on right now. We always have Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup in the fridge, and I just made a huge pot of Mulligatawny Stew because it’s fast to make, tastes like someone loves you, and reheats like a champ.

This aromatic stew with a light touch of creaminess originated in India and became popular in Britain during the UK occupation. I learned about Mulligatawny Stew in college when I subscribed to the monthly installments of McCall’s Cooking School. I was smitten with the photo of a brass tureen shaped like a crown and filled to the brim with golden soup flecked with coconut. The taste lives up to the visual: it’s silky, rich without cloying, and balances the warmth of curry with the sweetness of apples.

Trust me on this: It tastes even better on the second and third day. If you can make it in advance, do it! It also freezes and defrosts very well. Try it and see for yourself.


Mulligatawny Stew from Well Fed 2

Serves 6-8 | Cook 25 minutes | Simmer 55 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • salt and ground black pepper

  • 1/2 tablespoon plus 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 2 medium onions, diced (about 2 cups)

  • 3/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins

  • 2 medium stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 2 medium apples, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder (I like Penzeys Maharaja.)

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  • pinch cayenne

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 4 cups chicken broth

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup canned coconut milk

  • 1 batch Cauliflower Rice

  • minced fresh parsley leaves

  • sliced almonds, toasted


Sprinkle the chicken assertively with salt and pepper. Heat a large, deep pot over medium-high heat, then add 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil. When the oil is melted, add the chicken in a single layer with some elbow room around each piece. Brown in batches so a golden crust forms, about 5 minutes per side. Remove cooked chicken to a bowl to catch the juice.


Add 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil to the pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, apples, coconut flakes, and garlic. Sauté 7-10 minutes, scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. In a small bowl, mix the arrowroot, curry powder, salt, chili powder, allspice, cayenne, and bay leaf. Stir-fry until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds.


Add the broth and water to the pot and stir to combine. Nuzzle the chicken into the liquid and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, 45 minutes. Stir the coconut milk into the pot and simmer uncovered, 10 more minutes.


Serve on top of Cauliflower Rice and sprinkle cheerfully with parsley and almonds.

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  • Don Wright says:

    Sounds like a great and easy recipe. But… Why does it say:
    “1/2 tablespoon plus 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil”?

    Is that supposed to be:
    “1/2 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil”?

    • Mel says:

      Nope… it’s two servings of 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil. The first is the brown the chicken and the second is to sauté the vegetables. The instructions tell you clearly when to add each dose of coconut oil.

  • Corey says:

    Mel-can you recommend how to best store bone broth in the freezer? Thanks!

    • You can cool it, then pour into glass jars and freeze… or store in BPA-free plastic containers. The last time I used glass jars, they cracked ;-( so I’m back to plastic.

      • Missy says:

        The trick with the glass jars is to only fill them 3/4 full. They need plenty of room for the broth to expand/congeal.

  • Kara says:

    Another amazing recipe! This has a nice touch of heat to it while still being kid friendly. It was even better the next day. This is definitely going into our regular meal rotation. What would I do without this site!!!!

    • I’m really happy you like it! We love it, too! It’s become my fall-back when I’m not sure what to make, and I know I’m going to have a busy week. It freezes great, too!

  • Danielle says:

    I knew I had found a staple with your Silky Gingered Zucchini soup, and I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about this dish since I’m not normally a fan of curry. I was so wrong! This is the best chicken soup I’ve ever made. It’s rich and full of flavor, and the chicken is perfect. This has become a staple in my weekly pre-made work lunches. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

  • Terence says:

    Mel, just found your blog today and saw this recipe. I just started my first Whole30 5 days ago and this was the first meal I made. I had googled paleo stew and found it. Anyway I am so glad I found your blog and now I want to thank you for the recipe. Wow, I loved it! It will be a regular for me.

  • Petra says:

    Corey – I have found that freezing my bone broth in a silicon muffin tray then putting the pucks into containers is my favourite way to store it. Cheers!

  • Cassie says:

    Do I need the arrowroot powder? I have all the other ingredients. I assume it’s a thickener?

  • Tracey says:

    OH. My. Goooodnnesssz!!!
    Serious girl crush developing. I may just invite myself over for dinner when I come to Austin. 😉
    Every single recipe I’ve made from both Well Fed and Well Fed2 are absolute homeruns! Brava Bella!!! I started making double recipes and packaging them up for friends for their weekly meals. Little side business! Thanks.
    AND THIS… mulligatawny…. I’m in love!!!
    First time, I forgot the coconut milk… (Didn’t realize until I made it again…lol… I was hungry!). I did add 2 more Tbarrowroot, as I like it more gravy-like. Second time around, I omitted the 2 cups water.
    Favorite go-to recipe. Love the curry without tomatoes.
    ROCK ON siStar!

  • bethany says:

    Dang! This was the BEST soup I’ve had in a very long time. I mixed the carrots with some parsnips and used hot madras curry and it was incredible day of. Can’t wait to have more tomorrow after the flavors settle in. Well done!

  • Melanie says:

    I use a couple different recipe apps, Papeika being my favorite. Neither of them will work with your recipes. It’s a huge bummer. Do you have an app that you can suggest that will accept your formatting? I have your first cookbook, but I like being able to leave the book at home and just check off my grocery list as I go, using the apps.


  • Rachael says:

    thank you for the recipe, mel! this is making my house smell so good on this cold sunday night! can’t wait to eat it throughout the week!

  • Trish says:

    Wow. I have been cooking your recipes for about two years now, and just about every single one has found a place of high honor in my personal recipe book (I seriously don’t even bother with other recipe websites), but THIS recipe… THIS is simply THE BEST curry I’ve EVER HAD. We will be making this every one or two weeks for probably forever. It’s even mild enough that my 2.5 year old gobbled it all up. THANK YOU!!

  • Whitney says:

    I made this last night and it was SUBLIME. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers. The broth was perfectly seasoned – savory, sweet, and a little rich. It’s a tie between this and your Pad Thai for my favorite meal of my Whole30!

  • Christina says:

    Delicious soup! Love sprinkling both assertively and cheerfully too ?

  • Petra says:

    Hey Mel. LOVE THIS RECIPE! Have you ever attempted it in a slow cooker? Just wondering if that’s possible and if so what steps need to be altered?

  • Sony says:

    Hi! I’m allergic to coconu milk. Would chicken broth me an acceptable sub?

    • Sorry you can’t eat the coconut milk! You can just omit it, and there’s no need to replace it with additional liquid. It’s more to add a creamy texture than to add more liquids. The soup will still taste great without it. Enjoy!

  • Kristine in Santa Barbara says:

    Well that was fun. I opted for soup, so no thickener and no water. To make it possible to eat with a spoon, I removed the chicken after 30 minutes and shredded it, added it back with the coconut milk. The spices are spot on! Great recipe, thanks for sharing!

  • Sharline says:

    I travel to I India very often and this is a wonderful dish comforting especially on a cold rainy day! However I didn’t find it “simple” in terms of prepation of the vegetable and browning of the chicken. I am now resting as everything is now at the 45 minute mark. Thank you for a wonderful dish that I will be eating for the next three days and enjoying the fruits of my labor.

  • Christine says:

    This. Is. So. Good. I’m also loving the comments, to see how to do variations of the dish. (Also glad to know I’m not alone in not having arrowroot powder – still tasted great! But I wondered if I was missing something.) I also didn’t have celery and just added more carrots – also delicious. Thank you for this recipe!

  • Wendy says:

    I love you Mel. Who else uses the direction “nuzzle” in a recipe? Love this stoup.

  • Robin says:

    Hi Mel, do you cut up the chicken? I don’t see that anywhere in the recipe, so yes is this is one of those stupid questions, but when I picture stews I picture smaller chunks of meat rather than a whole pieces. Thanks!

    • Keep the chicken whole. As it simmers, it gets very tender. When you stir it, you can gently break it into pieces… that makes a more pleasing texture than cutting it before you cook it.

  • Sarah says:

    Delicious!! Made this for dinner and served it over roasted cauliflower, as riced cauliflower isn’t a great favorite here. All five of our boys loved it. It was breakfast again today.
    As a mom with a home full of active, always hungry boys healthy delicious meals are a big deal here and every recipe of that I have tried from either of your cookbooks or the website has been delicious. The boys and their dad keep saying “add this one to the favorites list”. Thank you!

  • NancyC says:

    This was delicious. Followed the recipe to a tee and both husband and I loved it. This is going to be a regular meal in our home. Thank you!

  • Sheri says:

    I’ve wanted to make this ever since I got Well Fed 2 when it came out – glad you reminded me! It looks like a great recipe for the Instant Pot – any ideas on time (anyone?) I can still do the browning and saute first in the IP, but not sure how the 45 mins would equate when pressure cooking.

  • Ellen says:

    The coconut flakes… are they supposed to stay crunchy? I expected them to soften up but they didn’t for me. Are they for flavor or texture or both?

    • I’m not sure why your flakes stayed crunch; that’s weird! They usually soften in the broth after simmering for all that time. I’m not sure what to say about that. They are primarily for flavor and a little texture, but not crunch—it’s more for thickening.

  • Tina says:

    I made this two days ago and am sad I have no more leftovers. This is delicious! I used lamb and lamb stock, but can’t wait to try it again with chicken!

  • Cindy says:

    Could I use chicken breasts instead of thighs? My husband hates dark meat.

    • You can you chicken breast, but I have a few suggestions… the breasts have less fat, so they can get very dry. Don’t brown the chicken, just go straight to step 2 and cook the veggies. Then in step 3, cut the chicken breasts into thin slices and add to the pot with the broth. Reduce the cooking time to 30 minutes.

  • Carol says:

    Do the coconut flakes dissolve? I love the taste of coconut but not the texture…