This chana dal chutney is a creamy, spicy chutney that pairs well with South Indian foods like idli, dosa, and medu vada. It is made from toasted chana dal and coconut.
This is an easy-to-make chutney from ingredients you might already have on hand. It does not have peanuts or cashews. This is the perfect South Indian-style chutney for anyone who is allergic to tree nuts but not coconut. It is also gluten-free and vegan, using coconut oil and not ghee.
Chana dal is used all over India in a variety of different recipes. South Indians often use it for chutneys, in addition to other ingredients. Here the chana dal is the main ingredient.
Chana dal is kala chana (black chana/chickpea), split with the husk removed. It has a yellow color because the husk is removed.
Chana dal – provides a creamy base texture and toasty flavor, giving it some protein. Chana is chickpea or garbanzo, and chana dal is kala chana (black chickpea) that is split and husked, so it is yellow.
Coconut – is not a dominant flavor, but it gives it a finishing flavor and adds to the creaminess.
Coconut Oil – any oil can be used; since this chutney has a coconut flavor, it helps enhance it.
Dried red chilies – I use dried red Kashmiri chilies that have a fruity flavor and are on the mild side of spicy. If you use a spicier chili, you may want to reduce the quantity. Fresh red chilies can also be used, especially red jalapeno or Fresno chilies.
Curry leaves – provide some aromatics and a floral finish. Optional, can be skipped if you don’t have them or replaced with cilantro.
Lemon Juice – for some acid, adds brightness.
Cooking Tips and Variations
- Make sure to toast the chana enough. It should be golden in color. Otherwise, it may have an unpleasant, raw taste.
- If you don’t have red chilies, use green chilies instead of red. This will alter the flavor but will still work. No need to cook the green chiles; they can be added to the blender raw.
- Substitute pepitas or onions for the coconut if you have an allergy or other reason you don’t want to use coconut. If using onions, saute half of the chopped onion until softened, and then combine with the toasted chana dal in the blender. Pepitas can be added to the toasting chana dal with curry leaves and chilies.
- Vaghar/Tadka is optional. You can add hing (asafoetida) to the vaghar. You can leave curry leaves out if you do not have them.
Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freezes well for up to 6 months. Defrost in a tub of water or by leaving it in the refrigerator overnight.
Chana Dal Chutney
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- ½ cup chana dal
- 10-12 curry leaves optional
- ⅓ cup desiccated or frozen coconut
- ½ Tbsp lemon juice
- 4 dried red chilies
- 2-3 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp oil
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 3-4 curry leaves
- 1 dried red chili optional
- 12 tsp chana dal optional
- Heat oil in a pan. Add chana dal and toast on medium-low heat until golden.
- Add curry leaves and red chilies, and cook until curry leaves are crisp and the chana dal has browned.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Add chana dal mixture to a blender, along with coconut, lemon juice, and just enough water to get the blender going. Blend until smooth.
- Heat oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds and let them sizzle, and pop for a few seconds. Add chana dal. Let it toast for a few seconds.
- Break the red chili apart and add to the oil. Add curry leaves. Stir and let cook until the leaves are crisp.
- Remove from heat and spoon or drizzle over the top of the chutney.