IDLI Chutney Recipe: Sharing a simple south Indian chutney recipe for beginners that can be served with dosa and Idli. The word Chutney is derived from an Indian term Chatni means crushed.
Coconut Chutney is a delightful South Indian condiment that pairs beautifully with breakfast and snack dishes like Idli, Dosa, Uttapam and Mendu Vada. Here I share simple recipes – a classic coconut chutney recipe with spice tempering, as well as a quick, hotel-style recipe that skips tempering. Learn how to make this essential Indian side dish with my easy-to-follow step-by-step photos and a video!
What is Coconut Chutney
Chutneys are a class of condiments that originated in India and can be made from a multitude of different ingredients. Just on this site, I have recipes for Green Chutney / Cilantro Chutney for Chaat||, Khajur Imli Chutney Or Tamarind Chutney, Cilantro Coconut Chutney, and that isn’t even my full list! All of these delicious savory sauces and relishes are used to enhance the flavors of various meals.
Coconut chutney originated from the South Indian cuisine. It is most often served with breakfast or snack dishes. In its simplest form, it is made by finely grinding fresh white coconut meat with either green chilies or dry red chilies and salt added to it.
Chilies lend a bit of heat and spice in the chutney. Garlic or ginger can be added for more savory depth. A tempering of oil with crackled mustard seeds, fried urad dal (black gram), crisp curry leaves and asafoetida (hing) brings more flavor to otherwise plain coconut chutney.
Why This Recipe Works
I have been making this easy-peasy basic coconut chutney recipe for decades now, and it is still a favorite in our house. As someone who cooks very often, the fact that this coconut chutney makes regular appearances on our table should indicate just how delicious it is!
Made in the Tamil Nadu style, this particular recipe calls for roasted chana dal to be added. Also known as chana daria, these husked and split black chickpeas have a lovely rich and nutty taste.
While roasted chana dal are readily available for purchase in India, I know that they are not available everywhere. You can either opt to fry these lentils on your own at home, or simply skip it. Don’t worry, the coconut chutney will still be delicious without it.
If fresh coconut is not available to you, simply swap in frozen coconut or unsweetened dessicated coconut flakes instead. This easy recipe will work with whatever you have on hand.
One of my favorite things about coconut chutney is how versatile it is! Apart from serving with breakfast foods like idli, dosa and vada, you can also serve it with tons of South Indian snacks.
How to make Coconut Chutney
1. Add ½ cup tightly packed freshly grated coconut in a chutney grinder jar or a small grinder jar.
2. Add 1 to 2 chopped green chillies (depending on your heat preference), ½ inch chopped ginger (optional, can substitute with 2 small cloves of garlic) and 2 tablespoons roasted chana dal.
NOTE: 1 green chili will yield about ½ to 1 teaspoon of chopped chillies. I have used about ½ teaspoon of chopped green chillies. For a spicy coconut chutney, depending on the pungency of the chilies, consider to add 2 to 3 green chilies.
TIP: You can swap the Indian variety of green chillies with ½ teaspoon of Serrano or Anaheim peppers. If using Thai green chillies, add about ¼ teaspoon chopped as they are very spicy.
3. Add salt to taste. I suggest starting with less salt at first. Then, after grinding, check the taste and add some more salt if required. Remember, you can always add MORE salt, but you can’t take it away once it has been added.
4. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons water. You can make this coconut chutney thicker by adding less water. You can skip roasted chana dal if you do not have it.
NOTE: Roasted chana dal is different from raw chana dal. Roasted chana dal is crunchy and directly edible, unlike raw chana dal.
5. Grind to a smooth consistency. If the blade is unable to grind or the chutney looks thick, then you can add 1 to 2 tablespoons more water or as needed.
6. Remove the chutney with a spoon or spatula in a heat proof bowl (e.g. steel, pyrex or glass). Check the taste and add more salt if needed.
Tempering Coconut Chutney
7. In a small pan or a tadka pan, heat ½ tablespoon sesame oil (gingelly oil – made from raw sesame seeds) over low heat.
NOTE: You can also use sunflower oil, peanut oil, coconut oil or any neutral flavored oil.
8. Add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds and let them begin to crackle.
9. Once the mustard seeds begin to crackle, add ½ teaspoon urad dal (split and husked black gram).
NOTE: If you don’t have urad dal then feel free to skip in the recipe.
10. Next add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds. You can skip cumin seeds if you prefer.
10. Stir often and fry keeping the flame to a low.
11. The urad dal should start becoming golden. The cumin seeds will also crackle and get browned.
12. Once the urad dal begins to turn to a golden color, then add 1 dry red chilli (broken and seeds removed), 9 to 10 curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida (hing). If the pan becomes very hot, then switch off the flame after adding the red chili, curry leaves and asafoetida.
Be careful as after adding the curry leaves the oil splutters.
13. Stir and fry for a couple of seconds till the curry leaves become crisp and the red chilli changes color.
14. Switch off the flame and immediately pour the entire tempering together with the oil on the ground coconut chutney in the bowl.
15. Mix very well.
16. Serve coconut chutney with idli, dosa, vada of your choice.
Coconut Chutney Variations
Myriad variations of coconut chutney can be made by adding extra ingredients like fresh mint leaves, coriander leaves, garlic, curd (yogurt), tamarind, tomatoes, onions, almonds, carrots, beetroot, unripe mangoes, peanuts, capsicum, and greens like spinach.
The ingredient(s) you add will change the flavor of the resulting coconut chutney – e.g. adding tamarind or tomatoes will impart a sour taste in the chutney, while adding fresh herbs like mint or coriander will add a bit of fresh, herb-y flavor to the final product.
I recommend that you experiment with different ideations of this delightful condiment because there are just so many to choose from! It is hard for me to pick my favorite.