Tag Archives: dip

Creamy Savory Coconut Chutney

On a recent trip to the Bay Area, my husband took me to a South Indian restaurant to impress me. He often works in California and had been to the restaurant a few times with his Indian colleagues. Knowing how picky I am with Indian restaurants, he was eager to get my verdict. Since we were really hungry, the waiter naturally took extra long to take our order, gave our order to some other table, tried to give us a different dish, and then finally showed up with the right food. Ah crappy service, a hallmark of an authentic Indian restaurant! We were both so hungry by the time the first plate arrived, we tore into the Uthappams (South Indian crepe with vegetables included in the batter) with gusto. The plate was empty in two minutes. Even the chutneys (dips) were all gone. With fingers tapping and eyes wandering over to our neighbors’ plates we proceeded to wait for the next dish.

The food was good, almost as good as in South India. My husband’s eyes popped out as I’ve never said that about any other Indian restaurant we’ve been to. This is not a compliment that I dole out easily.

While many Indian restaurants do a decent job on the entrees, they don’t pay as much attention to the simple but important sides, the chutneys. The green coconut chutney in the Bay Area restaurant was great! And they had not one but three kinds of chutneys with each dish.

It’s such an easy thing to make that it is astounding to me that someone can make coconut chutney that doesn’t taste good. After reading this recipe, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Ingredients

Shredded coconut (fresh or frozen) – about 1/2 cup

Cilantro leaves – 1/2 cup chopped

Green chile (thai or jalapeno) – 1-2, stems removed and roughly chopped

Lime – to taste (typically juice of 1/2 – 1 lime. Can also use lemon juice)

Salt – to taste

Recipe

Blend the coconut, cilantro and green chiles with 1/4 cup of water. If you need more water, add a bit more. If you want to make the chutney to use as a dip, try to use as little water as possible. Add salt and squeeze lime juice to taste.

Taste the chutney and add more cilantro or chiles if you like. The amounts are an estimation and I always go by the taste. I love my chutney spicy and with extra lime.

I’ve even substituted coconut milk for shredded coconut and it makes for a creamier chutney. Use thick coconut milk (vs. lite coconut milk) and don’t add any water.

It is typical to season oil with mustard seeds, curry leaves etc and pour this onto the chutney for added taste. In my opinion the chutney tastes great without this final step which requires more work and ingredients.

Traditionally, this green coconut chutney is eaten with dosas (south indian crepes made of lentil and rice flour) and idlis (steamed rice cakes). But I think it can also be used as a dip. Try it with toasted pita bread or corn chips.

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Red Onion Chutney with Crispy Papadum

So far this month has been all about catching up with friends. Friends new and old, friends who live a few blocks away in Seattle and from as far away as Japan. When we meet, I love cooking for them. I don’t usually have everything ready by the time they arrive. But I do really enjoy chatting while cooking.  There is something to be said for catching up on news while chopping vegetables, sipping a glass of wine while waiting for the curry to finish and setting the table together. It sets the stage (or should I say the table!) for a more intimate dinner. Since we have been through the process of cooking something “together”, the meal is that much more special.

I do however, always have an appetizer on hand. Something to munch on while catching up on the latest gossip.

If I’m cooking Indian, papadums are a great appetizer. They are crispy and savory and incredibly easy to prepare. You can buy a pack of them in Indian grocery stores or in the international aisle of many regular grocery stores. Just spread a few out on a plate and heat in the microwave for 1 minute on high. Let them cool for 2-3 minutes and they are ready.

I also like to have a dip that goes along with it. An Indian version of salsa is a great choice made by mixing finely diced onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and cilantro, squeezing some lime juice and adding salt to taste. That simple.

The last time I made this, I decided to make a chutney instead. A chutney is an Indian dip or condiment. It was fantastic. Sweet and tangy, smooth and savory. It went perfectly well with the papadums.

Here is the recipe or what I can remember of it. The one bad thing about cooking while talking is that I can never remember the exact steps or how much of each ingredient I used. This is however a very forgiving recipe and you can easily adjust the taste as needed.

1 red onion – dice (roughly 3/4 cup)

1-2 dry red chilis – remove stems and roughly chop

1-2 green chilis – diced (optional for extra heat)

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp split black lentils (optional but highly recommended. Also called urud dal)

3-4 tsp vegetable oil

1 lime – squeeze to taste

salt – to taste

Heat the oil in a small saucepan or skillet. If hot enough, a mustard seed will sizzle when dropped in. Add the mustard seeds. When they start crackling, add the black lentils, green and red chilis. Stir (to prevent burning) for about 30 seconds. Add the onion and stir till the oniony smell goes away and the pieces are translucent. Turn off heat, remove from stove. Carefully spoon everything into a blender. Add 1/2 a cup of water (a bit more if necessary) and blend till the mixture is smooth enough that you cannot see individual pieces of onion or red chili. Squeeze the lime juice in and add salt to taste. If it is too spicy for you, add 1/2 a tsp of molasses (or sugar). Blend one last time before serving.

If you have leftover onion chutney, it stores well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also try using it as a curry base or mixing it up with yoghurt for creamier dip!

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