Coconut chutney has always been my favorite. Up until about six years ago, I've always relished this dish whenever I’ve been to fine South Indian restaurants. But ever since I have become a part of the household of Tamil Brahmins, Aaah! All of the wonderful fragrances and flavors that I used to crave are now at my own fingertips—thanks to my mother-in-law!
What is Coconut chutney?
Chutneys are a type of condiment that originated in India and can be produced from a variety of ingredients. South Indian cuisine without coconut chutney is like Tom without Jerry. It’s an essential part of the flavor profile of South Indian cuisine, coconuts being a massively important resource in the local community since time immemorial. It is typically served with breakfast or snack foods. Its most basic form is created by finely grinding fresh white coconut meat with either green or dry red chilies and salt.
Though coconut chutney can be prepared in many ways, this recipe is how both my father-in-law and I like it.
Notable Ingredients at a Glance
For Chutney Base
Shredded Coconut: I mostly buy fresh frozen from the Indian store to save time. You can use freshly shredded if you have it.
Green chili: One or two is enough, just for the aroma. I don’t like it to be too much spicy coconut chutney.
Chana Dal (Dalia): I use roasted chana dal; it gives a great consistency to the chutney. You will find chana dal readily in Indian stores.
Fresh ginger: Not much, just ½ inch.
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds, 1 dried red chili, a pinch of hing (asafoetida), and 8-10 curry leaves roughly chopped. You will find all these ingredients in any Indian store.
How to prepare coconut chutney?
Always begin with the chutney preparation. Allow frozen shredded coconut to thaw outside the refrigerator or microwave the packet for 1 minute to release 1 cup of coconut. Put the rest immediately back into the refrigerator for its longer life.
Add the coconut, ginger, green chili, chana dal, and a pinch of salt to a grinding bowl. Grind it to make a smooth paste. Do not add water at the beginning; if the consistency is very dry, only then you can add some water. Keep it aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive or any other neutral oil to a small pan. Once the oil is hot, add a teaspoon of black mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Following this add a pinch of asafoetida, 1 dry red chili cut into 2 or 3 pieces, and the chopped curry leaves. Stir it for a minute.
Now combine this with the coconut mixture. Gently whisk and serve with upma, idli, dosa, and other South Indian meals.
Some expert tips for preparing coconut chutney
- Use fresh coconut for a more luscious and flavorful chutney.
- You can add roasted peanuts or gram dal for restaurant-style coconut chutney.
- You can adjust the consistency of the coconut chutney as per your taste.
- Coconut chutney must be consumed immediately. Avoid storing the chutney at room temperature for an extended period of time. If you need to store it for a few hours, place it in the frozen part of your refrigerator and use it within a day.
- If you're using desiccated coconut or coconut powder, pulse the chutney with warm water to reach the correct consistency.