Customizable Coconut Chutney

Coconut chutney is a great accompaniment to many Indian foods, including dosa, akki roti, upma, idli and so on.  You can make white (plain) coconut chutney, green coconut chutney, red (tomato) coconut chutney… there are quite a few options.  Here’s the basic recipe, and a few customizations follow.  Adjust the spice level by changing the number of chillies.

Aama vadai bites with coconut chutney

Ingredients

1 cup coconut, grated

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 tbsp urad dhal

2 tbsp channa dhal

2 or 3 dried red chillies

Pinch of hing

Salt to taste

 

Directions

1.  Put the coconut and salt in a glass blender jar.

2.  Heat the oil in a small frying pan.  Add the mustard seeds when the oil is hot.  When the mustard seeds start popping, add the urad dhal, channa dhal, red chillies and hing.  When the dhals begin to brown, remove from heat and pour into the blender jar.

3.  Grind all of the ingredients together, adding just enough water to help the grinding along.

4.  Serve with the dish of your choice.  Can be kept refrigerated for up to two days.

 

Variations

Green coconut chutney: Add 1/2 a cup of fresh cilantro to the blender jar before grinding.

Spicy green coconut chutney:  Omit the red chillies.  Add 3 to 6 green chillies, depending on how spicy you like your chutney, and 1/2 a cup of fresh cilantro to the blender jar before grinding.

Red coconut chutney:  Add one cup of chopped plum tomatoes to the frying pan once the dhals are brown.  Saute for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes break down.  Add to the blender jar before grinding.

Nutty coconut chutney:  For some extra body with less coconut, substitute 1/2 a cup of walnuts or peanuts or cashews for half the coconut.

There are many variations.  Just use your imagination!

Easy Ulundhu Vadai (Crispy Lentil Fritters)

Vadai are, in a nutshell, fritters.  They can be plain dough or they can have other ingredients mixed in.  The dough can be made of flour, lentils, potatoes, tapioca, and so on.  These vadai are made with urad dhal (ulutham paruppu) and served with coconut chutney.

 

Ingredients

2 cups urad dhal

2 tbsp shredded coconut

1/2 tsp salt

10 to 12 curry leaves, chopped

2 to 6 green chillies, to taste, chopped

Canola or other vegetable oil for deep frying (at least 3 inches deep in frying vessel)

 

Directions

1.  Soak the urad dhal in water for at least 4 or 5 hours.

2.  Start heating the oil (at least 3 inches deep) in a deep vessel.

3.  While the oil is heating, drain off the excess water from the soaking urad dhal.  Add salt and grind to a rough paste using an immersion blender or grind in a regular blender.  Do not add too much water.  Mix in the coconut, green chillies and curry leaves.

4.  Keep a little oil next to you in a small bowl.  Spread a little oil on your palms, take about 2 tbsp of vadai batter in your hand and make it into a round disc shape.  Use your finger to make a small hole in the center (so it looks like a mini doughnut) and slide it carefully into the hot oil.  Fry in batches until the exteriors are golden brown and crispy, flipping as needed to fry both sides.

5.  Remove to a paper towel to drain some of the excess oil.  Serve hot with chutney, sambar or plain.