South Indian Coconut Chutney

Indian coconut chutney

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Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
44 Calories
5g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 44
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 5mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 1mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 10mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Coconut is a popular ingredient in South Indian cooking. You'll find it in savory and sweet dishes that make the most of the fresh, mild flavor and the fat content of this versatile fruit. Coconuts come from the palm tree, one of the few plants of which all parts are used: fruit, fibers, trunk, and leaves are used for either food, fiber, fuel, or as building materials for houses and rafts.

South Indian cuisine uses coconut fruit and its derived oil for cooking, and our recipe for chutney makes the most of its flavor and texture. Chutneys include a variety of cooked, pickled, and raw preparations that have been adopted and adapted over the years to the palates and needs of other traditions; some chutney appeared as a way of preserving fruit for the winter, while others are made with overabundant seasonal produce. Some are sweet and others savory, and there is no one recipe to make it right. All combinations are great: spices, fruits, herbs, vegetables, vinegar, and sugar can be cooked and canned or prepared raw to be eaten within a few days. Our chutney uses a small number of yellow lentils or roasted garbanzos. You can find either in Indian groceries—if using the roasted garbanzos look for chutney chana.

Because all chutneys are different, they each complement different flavor profiles. Our mild coconut chutney is the perfect companion for South Indian steamed rice cakes know as idlis, for dosas, and uttapams rice pancakes. It's also the perfect accompaniment or side dish for pork or chicken, and it makes a terrific sandwich spread.  

Ingredients

  • 1/2 fresh coconut (grated)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or ghee)

  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

  • 5 to 6 curry leaves (finely chopped)

  • 2 dry red chilies (finely chopped)

  • 1 tablespoon yellow lentils (or roasted chickpeas)

  • Salt to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Grind the grated coconut into a fine paste in the food processor. Reserve for later use.

  3. Heat the vegetable oil or ghee in a small pan and when hot add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, dry red chilies, and yellow lentils. Sauté the ingredients, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the mixture turns slightly darker in color and is notably aromatic.​

  4. Remove the pan from the heat and add to the previously made coconut paste. Mix well, add salt to taste, transfer into a serving bowl, and serve.

Additions and Substitutions

Our mild coconut chutney is great as is, but you can change up the flavor profile in a few ways:

  • Add 1 large tomato to give the chutney a slightly tangy taste. This addition makes the chutney a great side to firm white fish. Taste for salt and add a squeeze of lime to the chutney before you serve it.
  • Add ginger to add some kick to the chutney. Grate a piece of ginger the size of your thumb and grind it with the coconut before mixing the paste with the rest of the heated ingredients. This version is also great for fish and seafood.
  • Add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of red chilies to increase the heat. Accordingly, you can skip the spice altogether or add less for a milder chutney. For a really hot chutney, add 1 to 2 fresh green chilies in addition to the red chilies. Place in the food processor with the coconut. Once all the ingredients are mixed, leave the chutney to rest at least 10 minutes for the chili to flavor the paste. Stir well before serving. This spicy version suits meats that are mild in flavor, like chicken or turkey, or perhaps grilled tofu.
  • Grind half a handful of fresh cilantro and half a handful of fresh mint leaves, stems removed, to make a green version of this chutney. Process the herbs with the coconut. This herby variation goes well with all meats and roasted vegetables.