Mulligatawny is an Anglo-Indian dish very much like a soup. A literal translation from Tamil is "pepper water" ('Millagu' is pepper and 'Thanni' is water). Despite the name, pepper itself is not a vital ingredient. Rice and noodles are commonly served in the soup ; the real dish the Anglo-Indians call "pepper water" is closer to Tamilian rasam (pronounced Russ-um) than mulligatawny.
Variations differ very much; Sometimes, the soup takes on a turmeric-like yellow color and is garnished with parsley and chicken meat, and is more soup-like, which takes on its Anglo-Indian adaptation to be a thick, spicy meat soup. This version has remained popular and is now available in cans in some stores.