This is a typical Coconut Chutney prepared in Kerala homes. This creamy, red coconut chutney has smokey undertones and a tinge of tang. I have had it umpteen times – mom, granny, countless aunt’s and a few friends are all experts when it comes to making Coconut Chutney. The taste is simply out off this world when the coconut and spices are ground in the traditional grinding stone and tempered over wooden fire.
This recipe is very similar to Coconut Chammanthy from Kerala. Chammanthy is essentially ground paste with spices. No cooking or other seasoning involved. The ingredients are ground on the traditional grinding stones without adding extra water. This ground mix is usually rolled into balls or thick cakes and served just the way pickles are served all over India.
This Kerala Style Red Coconut Chutney relies only on the coconut for its creaminess. The red chilies add color and heat to this chutney. Adjust the amount of chili powder as per your spice level or if you are using whole red chilies remove the ribs and seeds from the chilies before grinding. To get an the added smokey flavor, add red chilies to the seasoning oil and let it blacken and infuse the oil.
Chutneys are best made with fresh ingredients. But this is one recipe that tastes good even when made with frozen coconut . Add all the ingredients to grind into the blender bowl, and process to a thick paste – not smooth – is formed. The texture should be finer than breadcrumbs. It should look creamy and smooth from the top , but when rubbed between the fingers the tiny crumbs of coconut can be felt. You may need to add a little water to help with the grinding process. I add a few fenugreek seeds and a pinch of coriander powder while grinding, just the way mom does. These are optional ingredients, but the addition of these enhances the flavors.
If using frozen coconut defrost it before grinding.
Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a pan. Coconut oil is the preferred oil in this recipe , but if not available use any flavorless oil. To the hot oil add the seasoning spices – curry leaves , mustard, urad dal, red chilies, and sliced pearl onions. Mustard and urad dal are added first. Once the seeds crackle add the remaining ingredients. Fry them till the onions turn brown. At any point if any of the spices begin to burn , turn off the heat an add few drops of oil. Return to low to medium heat once the ingredients cool a little.
Once the seasoning is ready add the ground paste to the pan. You can reserve a little of the seasoning for garnishing later. Stir and cook the paste for 30 seconds. Add salt and a little water. Mix and adjust salt. Add more water , if needed, to obtain desired consistency. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat off when the chutney is heated through and bubbles begin to appear on the sides. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the reserved seasoning.
The souring agent here is tamarind. It just adds a hint of tang and rounds off the flavors. Some prefer this chutney to be thin while others like it fairly thick. Of course the roadside tea shops or bakeries prefer to serve the watered down version but the all the elements of taste will be there.
I can have this with almost anything – but when served with thick dosa (set Dosa or Amma Dosa ) the taste is absolutely amazing. “Absolutely Amazing” I agree, that is a lame way of describing something . But it does take me back to the parent’s dining table , where I and my sister used to wait for the next hot dosa , right off the griddle.