There’s nothing like coconut chutney made from freshly grated coconut! A quick internet search will tell you that the name Kerala comes from ‘Kera’ meaning coconut and ‘alam’ meaning land, essentially making this the land of coconut trees. Fittingly so, since we’re obsessed with everything to do with coconuts! We use every part of the coconut tree – the leaves, the wood, the husk, and of course, the fruit. Speaking of which, did you know that coconut is a fruit, a nut and a seed?
It’s been a year since I moved to Kerala and I’ve already forgotten that not every household shreds an entire coconut every morning! While having shredded coconut on hand definitely makes this recipe easy, you can also just cut sections of the coconut out as well.
One thing you definitely need for this recipe is a great food processor or mixer. The Wonderchef Sumo 1000 Mixer-Grinder is a beast of a machine that’ll give you the perfect chutney in less than a minute! It’s got a special stainless steel chutney jar that’s perfect for not only this recipe, but also any recipe that calls for wet masala grinding. The full set includes a large wet grinding jar, a dry grinding jar and a blending jar with a fruit filter. It’s basically a one stop grinding station that on top of all its functions, also looks incredibly cool! I like my kitchen equipment to look good on my counter and the cuboid base really stood out to me. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that the design was not simply for aesthetic purposes. The cuboid design actually helps keep the mixer a lot more steady! Which means no holding it down with all your life as you grind a chutney! Fashion AND function – my favourite combination!
The Dal Situation
One thing that ALWAYS confused me with chutney was the dal situation. So there’s one dal you use while grinding the coconut and two you can use in the tadka. We grind the chutney with pottukadala or roasted chana dal/puffed chana dal. It’s not regular chana dal, it’s the dal that’s added to some chiwda mixes. When in doubt, eat a couple, roasted or puffed chana dal is edible straight out of the packet whereas the unroasted kind is too hard to eat. It’s the roasted chana dal that gives the chutney some oomph and if you skip this, the water in the chutney can separate from the coconut.
With most chutneys, you can add heat with any type of chilli – fresh green, dried red or red chilli powder. The red chilli powder and the dried red chilli will give you a chutney that’s a light orange or peach, whereas the green chilli will give you the classic white chutney. Each chutney varies in taste slightly so it’s a good idea to try them all out to see which one you like best.
Garlic is pretty common in Tamil Nadu and some parts of Kerala, but my family never uses garlic in chutney and I’ve sort of gotten used to that. Ginger, on the other hand, is very common. Add one or add both, you’ll never know your favourite until you try them all!
The tadka is also pretty standard – mustard, curry leaves and the second type of dal, Urad Dal. Do not skip out on the curry leaves, crunchy curry leaves are SO tasty in chutney!
The last and most important tip I’d like to leave you with is starting with cold ingredients. As I found out the hard way, some mixers tend to heat up when they run for a while. If your jar heats up, it’ll essentially ‘cook’ your chutney, altering the taste. If that does happen, you may not be able to eat it raw, but no need to waste it, just use it to make a curry!
So here it is! A basic coconut chutney!
- 1 cup Grated Coconut
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Puffed Chana Dal
- 1 tsp Chilli Powder or 1 Green Chilli
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 cup Water
- 1/4 inch piece Ginger (Optional)
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1 sprig Curry Leaves (roughly chopped)
- 1/2 tsp Split Urad Dal
- Add the coconut, chana dal, chilli powder/green chilli, ginger and salt to a chutney jar of a mixer along with 1/2 a cup of water and mix for 30 seconds.
- Add another 1/2 cup of water or more and mix until you reach your desired consistency.
- Transfer to a bowl.
- Add the coconut oil to a small pan over medium heat.
- Once hot, add the mustard seeds and urad dal.
- Once the seeds start to pop, take the pan off the heat and add the curry leaves.
- Add the tempering to your chutney and mix well.
- You can process the chutney for longer if you like a smoother texture, I prefer a more coarsely ground chutney so I find that 30 seconds works well.
- There’s no real measurement for water, it’s completely up to you!
- If you like crunchy curry leaves like I do, you can leave the curry leaves in the hot oil (off the heat) for about 30 seconds longer before you add the tempering to the chutney.
About the blogger
Sneha Sundar is the creator of You Dim Sum, You Lose Some; a philosophy she adopts both in and out of the kitchen!