The flavors of spicy coconut come together in a creamy, slightly sweet, and savory chutney that is highly addictive. Coconut chutney is one of the essential chutneys of Indian food. It is particularly associated with South Indian cooking. It is often served with idli and dosa.
About the Recipe
My mom was always a big fan of idlis. As the chutney maker in my house, that meant I made this coconut chutney a lot.
When I lived in Bombay, we had a vendor who went door to door with idlis on Sunday mornings. My brother and I absolutely loved his idli, but more importantly, he made the best coconut chutney we’d ever tasted. I’ve been on a lifelong quest to duplicate his chutney – he likely didn’t use cashews, but his chutney was very coconut-forward and creamy.
When I was a kid, my dad would crack open a coconut. Then I’d cut out the flesh and put the pieces in a blender. These days, I find it easier to make the way I recommend here. I use desiccated coconut (coconut powder) or frozen coconut that I buy from the Indian store.
I frequently change around the nuts that I use. Peanuts and toasted chana dal are the most traditional complement to the coconut. I prefer using cashews instead of peanuts because they create a creamier texture. Plus, they are milder in flavor than peanuts. They give the chutney texture and thickness without adding too much flavor.
Coconut – a defining ingredient in South Indian cuisine and the main flavor of this chutney.
Green chili – I like to use jalapeno or Serrano. Ideally, the chili should have some heat to it
Cashews – I like the neutral flavor of cashews. It helps to highlight the coconut flavor while still adding thickness and creaminess to the chutney.
Garlic – I like to use granulated garlic as raw garlic is a bit harsh for me.
Tadka: mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves, and chana dal
Serving the Chutney
Chutneys are a condiment that tends to be very versatile. You can come up with all sorts of creative uses for this chutney, such as putting it on a sandwich. That said, this chutney is most often served with South Indian foods like idli and dosa.
- Add peanuts and roasted chana dal instead of cashews for a more traditional flavor
- Use pumpkin seeds instead of nuts to keep it nut free. I don’t have a nut allergy, but I have made this, and it is excellent.
- Use fresh garlic instead of the granulated garlic.
Storing the Chutney
Chutney is definitely a good make-ahead dish if you are planning a get-together. It keeps well in the refrigerator, and you don’t even have to worry about reheating it. You can refrigerate this chutney for up to 5 days, and it will still taste fresh.
You can also freeze the chutney. It will keep in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 4 months. You can defrost it in the refrigerator overnight or submerge the container in warm water. Ensure the container is well-seaed to avoid diluting the chutney.
Coconut Chutney for Idli and Dosa
- ½ cup coconut unsweetened, desiccated or frozen
- 1-2 green chilies
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp cashews tahini, sesame seeds, or cashews
- ½ inch of ginger
- ¼ tsp granulated garlic 1-2 cloves
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- Lemon juice
- 2 tsp neutral oil
- ¼ tsp mustard seeds
- 1 pinch hing
- 1 tsp chana or urad dal
- 6-10 curry leaves
- Combine the coconut, chilies, salt, cashews, ginger, granulated garlic, cumin seeds, and lemon juice in a blender. Add as little water as possible to allow it to blend. Blend to a consistent texture with no lumps.
- For the tadka, heat oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds and hing. Let it toast for a few seconds. Then add dal. When it starts to turn lightly brown, add curry leaves. Let those cook for a few seconds and remove from heat.
- Pour or spoon the tadka over the top of the chutney.