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 aunts’ 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 a 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.
Like many authentic Kerala dishes this is vegan and nut free. The chutney gets all its creaminess from the coconut. 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. If using frozen coconut defrost it before grinding. Add all the ingredients to grind into the blender bowl, and process to a thick paste. 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 definitely enhances the flavors.
The souring agent here is tamarind. It just adds a hint of tang and rounds off the flavors. The color of the chutneydepends on the amount of chilies used. I like these with a touch of spice, but not too hot that the heat overshadows all other flavors.
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. Turn the heat on 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.
Some prefer this chutney very thick as in the picture above while the others prefer it thinner so that the vadas and idlis can soak up the flavors. The roadside tea shops or bakeries prefer to serve an even thinner watered down version but the all the elements of taste will be there.
Red Coconut Chutney – Kerala Style
- 1 C Grated Coconut Lightly Packed
- 1 - 2 Pearl Onions
- Tamarind - A small Piece
- 1 - 2 Red Chilies To Taste
- 1/2 Inch Fresh Ginger
- 1/2 Tsp Salt To taste
- Water - As needed
- 1 - 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1/2 Tsp Urad Dal
- 1 Sprig Curry Leaves
- 2 Dry Red Chilies
- 1 Pearl Onions
- Take all the ingredients excpet for the water and seasonings in a blender jar. Grind into a semi smooth paste adding just just enough water to keep the blades going.
- Take a small heavy bottomed pan or Kadai and heat the coconut oil. When the oil is hot add teh mustard seeds and urad dal . Let teh mustard seeds splutter and urad dal turn brown .
- To this add the curry leaves broken red chilies and sliced pearl onions. Let the onions brown . and teh red chilies turn dark . Reserve half the seasoning .
- Add the ground coconut paste to the pan and stir and cook for 30 seconds. Slowly add enough water to achieve a thick batter consistency (or your preference) Mix, taste and adjust salt.
- Remove from heat as the chuney get heated through and becomes warm. Do not boil .
- Transfer to the serving dish and garnish with the reserved seasoning mix .
- Serve immediately, or chill for use later.
I can have this with almost anything – but when served with thick dosa (set Dosa or Amma Dosa ) the taste is absolutely heavenly. It takes me back to the parent’s dining table , where I and my sister used to wait for the next dosa, hot off the griddle.
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