Coconut Chutney

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about 1½ Cups ; Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

Coconut chutney accompanies many of our favorite meals in the southern part of the Subcontinent, especially dosas, idlis, and the deep-fried South Indian snacks called vadas. It’s an easy way to bring flavor and freshness to the table, with a little chile heat and a good balance of tart and sweet. The chutney can be thick with coconut or very liquid; it’s up to the cook.

Traditionally coconut chutney, like many other South Indian dishes, is flavored with a little dal that is roasted in a skillet. It gives a pleasant toasted flavor, a mellow nuttiness, and also a little crunch. You can grind it in a spice grinder as we do, or leave it whole and crunchy, or omit it, as you please.


  • 1 teaspoon tamarind pulp
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • cups fresh or frozen grated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger or ginger mashed to a paste
  • 2 to 3 green cayenne chiles, or substitute serranos, roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons toovar dal or urad dal (see headnote), coarsely ground (optional)
  • 10 fresh or frozen curry leaves


Blend the tamarind pulp into the hot water in a small cup and let it stand for several minutes to soften. Place a small sieve over a bowl and press the tamarind mixture through it. Discard the pulp.

Place the tamarind liquid in a blender, add the grated coconut, ginger, green chiles, and salt, and blend well. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Place a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, dal, if using, and curry leaves and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until the seeds have popped and the dal is toasted. Immediately pour the oil onto the coconut mixture and stir thoroughly. Serve at once.

Serve as a dipping sauce or condiment to accompany Spicy Chickpea Fritters, Home-Style Dosas, or Idlis, or simply with a rice dish such as Quick Tamarind Pulao with Curry Leaves.