I don’t think I eat Indian food the way you’re supposed to sometimes, especially South Indian food. Instead of using chutney as a condiment, I tend to make it the main event and put it on everything! There are hundreds of different chutneys, and coconut is my favorite.
I do use a few ingredients that might not be available at your local grocery store. You can easily find them at any Indian store and at most Asian markets in general. The tarka, or roasted spices, is optional but really ups the flavor profile of this chutney. If making the tarka, have everything measured and ready to go because your spices can burn easily.
Enjoy this chutney with dosas and idli. Or be like me, and put it on everything in sight!
1-2 tablespoons of channa dal, urad deal, or peanuts
1/2 cup of coconut, shredded
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 inch piece of ginger
Chunk of jalapeño, optional (I use less than 1 inch because I don’t like it super spicy)
2 handfuls of chopped cilantro
Salt, to taste
Juice of half a lime
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (any mild oil that can handle high temperatures)
2 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1 dried red chili
Pinch of hing
Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Dry roast your dal or peanuts until they’re fragrant and slightly golden. Set them aside to cool.
In a food processor or blender, add the coconut, ginger, jalapeño, cumin, and cooled dal or peanuts. Process until the coconut breaks down and becomes a thick paste. It doesn’t have to be completely smooth.
Add salt, cilantro, and 1-2 tablespoons of water. Process and continue to add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. The consistency of grits is a good guideline. Taste and adjust ingredients accordingly. You can add more jalapeño, salt, or cumin. Finish with lime juice.
For the tarka, heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the mustard seeds. They should sputter and jump around. Immediately add the curry leaves and dried chili. Add the hing and quickly remove the pan from the heat and pour the tarka over your chutney. This whole process should take 30 seconds or less.