Coconut Chutney Recipe

Photograph: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Hot water rehydrates desiccated coconut for a smoother chutney.
  • A touch of tamarind and sugar adds brightness and balance.
  • Tempering the spices and urad dal in hot ghee or oil enhances their aromatics.

This is the blueprint for the classic coconut chutney, often eaten alongside idlis and dosai, although it's versatile enough to serve with grilled fish or vegetables. You can easily make it your own by adding green chilies, cilantro, or curry leaves.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 15 mins
Makes: 2 cups

Rate & Comment


  • 1 tablespoon ghee or neutral oil (0.5 ounce; 15g)
  • 2 tablespoons chana dal, a.k.a. yellow split lentils (1 ounce; 30g)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded unsweetened desiccated coconut (4.6 ounces; 130g)
  • 2/3 to 1 1/3 cups (156 to 312ml) hot water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seedless tamarind paste, not concentrate (0.3 ounce; 10g)
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1g) Kashmiri red chili powder
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • For Tempering:
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or neutral oil (1 ounce; 30g)
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) urad dal, a.k.a. split black gram lentils
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) black mustard seeds
  • 1 pinch ground asafetida


  1. Heat ghee and chana dal in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Toast dal until fragrant and golden. Set aside.

  2. In a blender, combine coconut, hot water, tamarind paste, sugar, chili powder, and toasted chana dal. Blend until smooth, adding more water if needed to achieve a thick, hummus-like consistency. Season with kosher salt to taste. Transfer coconut chutney to a serving bowl.

  3. For Tempering: Heat ghee and urad dal in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once dal is lightly toasted, add mustard seeds and asafetida and fry until seeds begin to pop. Pour entire mixture over chutney and serve immediately. The chutney will keep for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator (see note).

Special equipment



This chutney has a short shelf life and must be consumed within 2 to 3 days of preparing. If you need a smaller batch, the recipe can be halved or quartered and blended in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle instead.

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