Delicious, thick, and easy to prepare, this fresh coconut chutney recipe ticks all the boxes. This South Indian condiment has long been the perfect accompaniment to dishes like sambar with masala dosa or idli. Easy to prepare using fresh coconut [or frozen coconut], roasted chana dal, ginger, cumin seeds, green chilies, curry leaves, and tamarind paste, all ground and topped with a delicious tempering containing mustard seeds. Sounds delicious? Because it is!
South Indian food is a staple in our household, as Jay's parents are from Kerala.
As the great wife I am [a bit of self-praising], and Italian, I know how much food really can make you feel at home, so I always tried my best to cook Indian food as authentic as possible.
Obviously, having a Mother-In-Law [even if remotely!] who can teach how to achieve this, indeed makes the task much easier!
A far, far cry from that liquid coconut-flavored chutney they serve in restaurants, this thick [Jay likes to say I would make a restaurant fail with the richness of this!] coconut chutney is easy to prepare in a few simple steps, can be amended to your liking, and stores well for a few days while you work your way through it, using it as a delicious accompaniment for many south Indian dishes.
Coconut Chutney Ingredients
- Coconut: Grated coconut is the one essential, non-negotiable ingredient in this recipe, for obvious reasons. Fresh or frozen coconut both work perfectly well, however, I would not recommend opting for desiccated coconut, as this tends to be sweeter, and also after rehydrating, offers a different consistency.
- Roasted Chana Dal: Also known as roasted Bengal gram or fried gram, you need very little of this, but it offers a rich nutty back tone to the chutney while thickening its consistency too, and it is easy to prepare at home in a couple of minutes. If you require a substitute, there are a few written in the Tips and Tricks section below.
- Ginger, Cumin Seeds, Green Chillies, Curry Leaves: For better results, try to use ginger, green chilies, and curry leaves that are fresh, but if not available, frozen will work too. Don't swap the seeds for powder, or ginger for paste, as the flavors would change.
- Tamarind: Tamarind not only lightly extends the life of the coconut chutney, but it also offers a sour profile to it. You can use ready-made tamarind paste, or you can soak some tamarind pulp.
- Oil, Mustard Seeds, Hing [Asafoetida], Curry Leaves, and Red Chillies: These are standard tadka ingredients. Choose a neutral flavor oil [such as sunflower or vegetable oil]. Hing offers a savory flavor and really does enhance the whole coconut chutney.
How To Prepare Fresh Coconut Chutney?
- Start by blending into a smooth chutney the grated fresh coconut, salt to taste, the roasted chana dal, fresh ginger, cumin seeds, green chilies, curry leaves, and tamarind.
- You will need to add a bit of water to turn this coconut chutney base into a smooth paste, but make sure you don't add too much; adding a few tablespoons at a time is the best way.
- Once this is ready, prepare the tempering. In a tadka pan [normally quite small and with tall sides], warm up some oil and, once warm, add mustard seeds.
- Once the mustard seeds have nearly finished popping [should take about 30 seconds to one minute], add the asafoetida, curry leaves, and red chillies, then immediately remove them from the heat, so as to avoid any of these ingredients overcooking or burning.
- Add the tadka on top of the coconut chutney, serve and enjoy!
People Also Ask [FAQs]
Coconut chutney has been served for the longest time with most South Indian breakfast dishes including savoury dosas and idli with sambar.
Coconut Chutney can be enjoyed as tea snacks such as vada sandals, bajji (south Indian pakoras), and vegetable sandwiches, among others.
Coconut chutney can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two days.
When using it, remove from the chutney jar the amount desired using a clean spoon, and allow it to reach room temperature.
To refresh the chutney recipe, you can do a new tempering and add it on top.
The coconut chutney can also be frozen, but only if using fresh coconut.
It is not advisable to freeze the chutney if using frozen grated coconut, as double freezing will change its consistency.
To prepare roasted chana dal [called also roasted gram], warm up a large empty frying pan on medium heat.
Once the pan is warm, add the dal and allow to cook until lightly brown, continuously mixing and turning.
As soon as these are roasted until deep golden, move them to a plate and spread them out to cool down.
You can prepare larger quantities and store any leftovers in an airtight container, such as a glass jar, for about 4-6 weeks.
What to use instead of chana dal?
There are multiple ingredients that can be used instead of chana dal in this coconut chutney recipe.
To maintain a nutty flavor, you can swap chana dal for roasted peanuts, but if these are not available, also roasted almonds or cashews will work well.
How to use frozen coconut in the coconut chutney?
It is important that the chutney is not made using the coconut while frozen, as blending it may make the fatty part of it separate from the pulp.
The best is to allow the frozen coconut to thaw naturally, but if that is not possible, it can be lightly defrosted in the microwave [ensuring it doesn't start cooking], or by immersing it in some warm to hot water and then draining it well.
Tips and Tricks for Coconut Chutney Recipe
- Tamarind Paste: While I prefer using a small piece of seedless tamarind pulp, this can be swapped for a bit of the paste version, but ensure you adjust the amount, as the flavor is different. If you're in need of a substitute for tamarind paste, I suggest taking a look at my related article.
- Sourness: Should you not have or like tamarind, you can use a bit of natural plain yogurt instead, which has a sour note too. As an additional alternative, some lemon juice will work too.
- Urad Dal: This is a basic white coconut chutney recipe, which can be modified to taste. A great way of making coconut chutney interesting is by adding a bit of urad dal to the tempering.
- Coconut Alternatives: Although many use desiccated coconut or coconut powder for this South Indian coconut chutney, I would not recommend them, as the final result will not taste the same. Desiccated coconut tends to be quite sweet, while this vegan chutney is a side to savory dishes; although there are unsweetened desiccated coconut options, I find they still don't offer as great a result, as fresh or frozen grated coconut.
- Chutney Cuisine: There are many variations to this nariyal chutney [in Hindi] or Thengai chutney [in Tamil] or Kobbari chutney [in Telugu], and you can really modify it to your preference. Red coconut chutney has some toasted red chilies added to the blended coconut paste, while the green coconut chutney has some fresh coriander leaves added.
- Spice Level: Add as many or as few green chilies as you like. Once green chili will have very little effect in this chutney, as the coconut is quite sweet and rich, however, if you are not used to spice and are just starting out with South Indian cooking, then perhaps you can make this not spicy to balance out any spicier food you are serving it with.
- Neutral Flavored Oil: It is important to choose an unflavored oil for the tempering to not overpower the chutney flavor. This basic chutney tastes delicious as it is, and using coconut oil, would be quite a statement.
- Coriander Seeds: For another very South Indian twist, you can dry roast some coriander seeds before blending them with the coconut. These offer a nice warming tone and richer color.
- Gluten-Free: To ensure this awesome recipe is gluten-free, make sure the hing doesn't contain any gluten.
- Water: When blending, don't add too much water in one go, as this may make it harder to obtain a smooth chutney. Once everything is blended perfectly, should you like your chutney runny, then add some more water to achieve the desired consistency.
Whether you are planning to serve coconut chutney with idli dosa, curries, or as a dipping sauce for pakoras, sandwiches, or other snacks, this recipe is the best way to get started. This basic recipe is tasty, easy to prepare, and a total gamechanger when it comes to celebrating South Indian cuisine. Get that serving bowl out and whip up some delicious home-style coconut chutney!
🥗 If you enjoy cooking with frozen or freshly grated coconut, then these recipes may be right up your street too:
The Perfect White Coconut Chutney
For the coconut paste
- In a grinder or blender add cumin seeds, grated coconut, tamarind pulp, salt, roasted chana dal, fresh ginger, green chilies, and curry leaves.
- Blend everything to a thick smooth paste, adding a little water at the time when necessary.
- Once everything is blended, adjust the thickness of the chutney by adding water to achieve the desired consistency.
- Adjust the salt level if required and mix well.
- In a small pan, start preparing the tempering [tadka].
- Heat oil, and once warm, add mustard seeds.
- Once the mustard seeds have popped [will take 30 seconds to one minute], add the hing [asafoetida], curry leaves, and red chilies, and remove from the heat.
- Mix the tadka well and immediately pour it on top of the coconut paste.
- Serve the chutney with dosa idli, pakoras, or any desired dish.