Recipe Link:

This vegan soup from Desmond Tan’s Burma Superstar in San Francisco features a broth that’s seasoned with black mustard seeds, cumin, and turmeric.

Desmond Tan, Food & Wine

I originally saw this recipe a year ago, in the January 2019 Food & Wine issue. My family has a Christmas tradition where we do a “soup buffet” for dinner, so as soon as I saw the recipe I knew I wanted to make it for next Christmas. Sure enough, I made this soup last month for December 2019. Was it delicious? Yes! Do I recommend it? Yes! Was it tedious? Yes! It took me much closer to four hours than 45 minutes (the listed total time) to make this soup, but I suppose I am just a beginner.

A page from my Food & Wine magazine

Overall Taste

Just a heads up, the soup is VERY spicy. So, if you prefer milder dishes, I can’t recommend it; however, if you enjoy spicy foods, I believe you will adore this soup because it is very flavorful. I think a lot of the flavor came from the crushed red pepper, jalapeno, and tamarind water I used.


As I mentioned above, it took me about four hours to make this soup. Making the soup itself was easy; however, it was the preparation of the ingredients that took up so much time and work. For example, I made homemade toasted chickpea flour, which meant I had to toast canned chickpeas, crush them, and grind them repeatedly, over and over again, until I had a fluffy flour. I highly recommend preparing the following ingredients ahead of time: chickpea flour, chopped onion, chopped garlic, and tamarind water. If I had already prepared those items, it probably would have only taken me 45 minutes-1 hour.

Changes I Made

  • Cumin seeds: I didn’t have seeds, so I used powder instead. Quick tip: 1 tsp seeds=1 1/4 tsp powder
  • Black mustard seeds: I didn’t specifically have black mustard seeds, but I used what I had, which seemed to work fine
  • Veggie oil: I used canola oil
  • 3-4 small dried chiles: I used 1 tsp of crushed red pepper
  • Tamarind water: I followed the tip in the recipe and used lime juice instead of buying expensive tamarind pulp. Quick tip: alternative tamarind water=1 tbsp lime juice + 1/2 cup water
  • Yellow lentils: I used the cheapest lentils at the store
  • Garnish: I skipped the garnish, so my soup didn’t have any “crunch” to it. I would also love to try using this soup as a base for prepared noodles.
  • Garam masala: I used tikka masala instead because it was the closest seasoning I had to it on-hand


Making the chickpea flour


Making the cumin mixture

Other Steps

The Final Dish

If you’ve made this dish before, I’d love to hear what you though about it!



  1. Darlette Ambrose Reply

    May the lord continue to bless you Madalene Goeller. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and learning a great deal about clothes, food and lipstick. I am so tempted to visit the cupcake store in Florida just because of this blog. Words can’t express how proud I am. No matter what…..keep going. I always thought you would end up in Paris but now I see it will just be a stop along the way as God continues to get the glory in your life. He hath done great things!!!!!

    • madaleneg Reply

      Thank you very much, Ms. Ambrose! It’s so wonderful to hear from you!

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