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South Indian Spicy Coconut Chutney

August 9, 2012

Last week I embarked on my most ambitious cooking project since the gnocchi. (Or possibly since the tamales…) I made Masala Dosa from scratch!

If you’re not impressed yet, my theory is that either you have much more experience with South Indian cooking than I do, or you’ve never heard of Masala Dosa. For those in the latter group, let me explain.

You make a thin, crispy, buttery (except made with ghee, not butter) crepe using a batter made from fermented rice and lentil pastes (no eggs). Then you wrap the crispy dosa up around a savory spiced potato curry. Then you slather on some coconut chutney and dig in.

Oops, I couldn’t help it: my description quickly shifted from the making to the eating… but with good reason. Masala Dosa is subtly and distinctively flavorful; it makes for an immensely satisfying meal.

It’s difficult to find South Indian food in the states, where North Indian restaurants and curries predominate. So I’ve wanted to make my own Masala Dosa for quite some time.

I even ran right out to buy an instant dosa batter mix back when my sisters gave me an electric crepe griddle for my birthday last year. I never opened the mix, though. It wasn’t that I was lacking for time or inspiration. I suppose was only lacking for coconut chutney.

So when my spontaneous coconut purchase— and my girlfriend’s persistence with a hammer, knife, and spoon– resulted in three whole cups of fresh grated coconut, I knew it was time.

I didn’t even use the instant dosa mix for the lentil crepe batter; I made it all from scratch. All in honor of the coconut.

My coconut chutney recipe is roughly adapted from a cookbook by Anjum Anand (who I discovered thanks to this post on the blog One Picture, A Million Words). I used green chili peppers instead of red chili powder, and I only removed the seeds from one of the peppers, which resulted in a much spicier chutney than most that I’ve tried. (But I’m writing this now that we’ve consumed the whole jar of it, and I wouldn’t change a thing.)

Stay tuned for my next post with recipes for the Masala Dosa crepe and potato curry filling!

And in the meantime, should you find yourself with any extra grated coconut on your hands, consider tossing some of the ingredients below into the blender for one of the tastiest sauces I’ve ever made in 10 minutes. (Not counting all the time it took to scrape and shred the coconut in advance.)

Print this recipe.


Spicy Coconut Chutney
(Adapted from Anjum’s New Indian by Anjum Anand.)

(Makes 1 cup, or 4-6 servings)

~ ⅔ cup grated coconut
~ ½ – ¾ cup coconut milk
~ 1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
~ 1-2 green chili peppers, seeds removed (I left the seeds in one, which made it pretty spicy)
~ 2 tsp. tamarind concentrate (if you don’t have this, at least include the lemon juice)
~ pinch of salt
~ 1 Tbsp. (or less) vegetable oil
~ 2 tsp. black mustard seeds
~ 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
~ pinch of asofoetida powder
~ 3 tsp. urud dal

How to make it:

1. In a blender or food processor, combine: the grated coconut, some of the coconut milk, the ginger, the chili pepper(s), the tamarind, salt, lemon juice, and asofoetida power. Add more coconut milk gradually if needed to blend to the desired texture. (The chutney should be liquidy, like a sauce, but with some body and substance.)

2. Transfer to a serving bowl or jar, and adjust flavors to taste.

3. In a very small saucepan, heat vegetable oil, then add the black mustard seeds, and optionally the urud dal. Fry the seeds and dal, stirring occasionally, until the seeds start to splatter. Then pour the mixture– including some, but ideally not all, of the oil– into the coconut chutney, and stir to combine.

4. You can store this chutney in the fridge for up to a week or two (and chilling it will give it a thicker texture if you find your version is too liquidy). Serve at room temperature with idli or dosa, like the Masala Dosa recipe that I will post here soon…

Print this recipe!

Related recipe posts:
> Kale Curry with Homemade Paneer
> Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt Sauce
> Ginger Coconut Rice

24 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2012 8:50 am

    Love your post and all the awesome pictures! And I am SUPER impressed you made masala dosa at home!

    • August 10, 2012 11:38 pm

      Thank you! It’s so nice to hear such sweet feedback from a fellow blogger.

  2. August 9, 2012 9:29 am

    I totally AM impressed! I had aspirations to make masala dosa at some point too. Someday.

    • August 10, 2012 11:40 pm

      Yay, thank you! Haha I guess I was kind of fishing for exactly this type of response with that comment, but it’s nice to hear it anyway. And I’ve seen the dishes you make for your blog– you could totally make masala dosa! Maybe my (wordy and detailed) recipe will turn out to be just the right impetus you need to try it out…

  3. Jessica permalink
    August 9, 2012 9:45 am

    We also tackled a coconut a few weeks ago! This sounds really good. Can’t wait for the dosa crepe and potato curry filling recipes!

    • August 10, 2012 11:42 pm

      Nice! Was that the same one that you used for the coconut strawberry popsicles? (Oh and yes: the chutney was reeeally good.)

  4. August 9, 2012 12:47 pm

    The best chutney with dosa this looks incredible :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  5. August 10, 2012 6:05 am

    Yum Yum!! want to dig into in right now! Chutney looks delicious.

    • August 10, 2012 11:43 pm

      Thanks! Yep, it’s one of my favorite types of chutney. And so easy to make (I mean, except for initially taking apart the coconut…) I don’t know why I had never thought to try making it at home before!

  6. August 10, 2012 11:40 am

    I’ve never seen anything like this – I think it’s a wonderful idea.

    • August 10, 2012 11:45 pm

      Yes, maybe it’s less common than I thought… I don’t know of that many specific South Indian dishes in total, but I know that coconut chutney is what’s typically served with Masala Dosa.

      • August 10, 2012 11:46 pm

        That’s good to know, thanks! I ought to do more with coconut really.

      • August 11, 2012 12:02 am

        Me too! I’ve been trying to use coconut oil in cooking more often, but coconut’s a whole different story… (And believe it or not, after making popsicles and chutney I still have half of that same coconut left in my freezer… I’ll try to blog about it if I turn it into anything interesting!)

  7. August 11, 2012 4:03 pm

    Goodness! I thought I just had supper, and a good one too. I thought I was quite satisfied and full. I guess not after I read this! Dosa is my absolute favorite. Whenever I go home to India for a visit I get my dosa fix. So so good! And it ain’t complete without the coconut chutney. You are inspiring me!
    Have you ever cooked fresh coconut with prawns? Just an idea if you are looking to use up the other delicious half.

    • August 13, 2012 8:49 am

      Oops, I’m sorry I made you re-hungry! :) I agree that dosa is so so good.

      And fresh coconut with prawns sounds like a wonderful way to use up the other half of the coconut; thanks! I will look into finding a good recipe for that (or improvise one) unless you can direct me to one you like?

  8. August 13, 2012 6:23 am

    I love Anjum’s recipe a lot! I have her first cookbook. My husband & I will try this tasty recipe! I am sure it will be more then fine but superb! :) Looks truly appetizing too, dear Allison! :)

    Your name is a beautiful one. I keep thinking of the song : Allison from the Pixies! So lovely too! Do you know them?Or did you knew them? They were my favourite band in the nineties!

    • August 13, 2012 8:53 am

      Thanks! I love my only Anjum cookbook too (and I plan to buy more…). The funny thing is by the end of making this, it was barely like Anjum’s original recipe at all. (Oh AND the cookbook actually had two recipes for coconut chutney, and I adapted this from the one called something like “quick coconut chutney with red chile” without even realizing that there was also a second recipe for a more involved coconut chutney with green chili– I only discovered that after I’d made this!)

      And I definitely know the Pixies song “Allison” but I don’t know much of their other music very well even though some of my friends love them!

  9. vinicooksveg permalink
    October 29, 2012 8:05 pm

    Wow! You have this one too! Its looking beautiful with dosa. I add mint and coriander. It turns out green in colour. Everyone has their own version of coconut chutney. I liked the idea of adding ginger. Will try it. I used to add only garlic.

    • October 31, 2012 9:52 am

      Yes, I add ginger to almost everything where it makes sense to. :) And a green coriander chutney (with a little coconut) is on my list of things to make soon! I hadn’t thought about adding mint to that though, but I bet that would be delicious.
      (I guess coconut, coriander, and mint chutneys can each include a little bit of all three of those ingredients; it’s just that one is featured more prominently in each one?!)

      • vinicooksveg permalink
        October 31, 2012 7:41 pm

        Exactly Allison! It actually depends on personal choice about which one to add more. All three are great ingredients.


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