Spicy and Smooth Coconut Chutney


I often get asked, “What is chutney?” and I reply that it’s a condiment like a ketchup or a pesto. Chutneys can be spicy, savory, smooth or chunky. Some chutneys can have a hint of sweetness and others can be minty or creamy. Even coconut chutneys come in a variety of tastes and textures depending on the house or region you’re eating in.

My personal preference is for chutneys to be as smooth as silk, with just a enough texture and body to keep them from being a drink. I like them savory and spicy. I love adding my chilled cilantro-mint chutney on turkey sandwiches like a pesto, and slathering my tomato chutney all over omelettes or enchiladas.

But, today we eat my favorite chutney: coconut chutney.

This recipe was inspired by the coconut chutney at a south Indian restaurant in Oregon. This is a *cooked* chutney, most coconut chutney’s are freshly made and then tempered. But, being cooked allows for a few more ingredients….also, some times of the year it’s hard to get my hands on shallots, so this cooked chutney makes my onion options a little more flexible.

So here it is:

Add to a Food Processor:

  • 1 small-medium white onion (or yellow), quartered/big chunks
  • 5 cloves garlic, de-skinned
  • 1 tbsp of ginger paste (or 2″ of ginger, de-skinned)
  • 2-4 small Serrano peppers (or 2 thai green chilis), de-stemmed
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk (if you add the full can of milk, just add a pinch more cumin)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, thawed  not the sweetened or dried stuff!
  • 1/2 cup curry leaves, removed from stem, save five (5) leaves for later. not curry powder. 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter (or unsalted/unsweetened almond butter)

Turn the food processor onto it’s low setting for now. In the meantime…

In a pan/skillet/pot add:

Place on medium heat, to let the oil heat up at a slow but fairly steady pace. This should take about 5 minutes for an electric stove. Which gives time for the chutney to puree.

Now, turn food processor to it’s highest setting. The coconut chutney may look a little green at this stage, but that’s ok.

When mustard seeds start to pop (about 5 minutes), switch off food processor, and then add to the oil:

  • 5 curry leaves

The curry leaves will cook immediately. After this add the blended coconut chutney. Be careful while you pour, make sure you’ve removed the blender’s blade and that you don’t stand too close to the now very hot oil.

The hot oil is usual a “tempering” step in many chutney recipes, where the hot oil and spices are poured onto the chutney, but I reverse that here. I like to cook the chutney down a little.

Mix and cook for 5 minutes on a gentle simmer (should still be around a medium or medium-low heat). After five minutes you’re done!

Remove the 5 curry leaves, and consume! Honestly, I’ll eat this with pancakes.

Note: I freeze the chutney into little half globes using a silcone baking mold. I pop them out and keep them in a freezer-safe container and just take out one or two at a time as I need them. They last about a month or two.


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