• October 2, 2023

I Always Keep Coconut In My Freezer For This Green Chutney

The only thing better than a good recipe? When something is so easy to do that you don’t even need it. Welcome to As simple as that, a column in which we guide you through the process of making dishes and drinks that we can prepare with our eyes closed.

I owe my love for coconut chutney to one person: my Chithi Pati (sister of my maternal grandmother). The first time I had their coconut chutney next to dosa was when I was studying abroad in India a few years ago. It was a sultry October day and I went to my Chithi Pati’s apartment in Mumbai. She asked if I was hungry. “No, Vimala Chithi, I’m fine.” Silently she went into the kitchen and started to cook anyway.

Before the COVID lockdowns, I only went home to eat real South Indian food. But with travel restrictions I tried to recreate the same food in my apartment. I’ve made this coconut chutney – a Tamil specialty and a gift for me from my Vimala Chithi Pati who lives across the ocean – more than a dozen times.

Coconut chutney is available in white and green varieties. To make white chutney you usually need fresh coconut, but given the constraints of New England living and schooling, I find the green version, made from frozen coconut flakesto be much more achievable. (On the other hand, since white coconut chutney relies on the coconut for all of its flavor, it’s important to have the freshest coconut meat available – frozen ones don’t cut it.) Traditionally, chutneys are made with a mortar and pestle. but a food processor or mixer is sufficient for my purposes.

To do it, start washing 1 bunch of corianderwho have favourited chop the leaves and tender stems and discard the bottom few inches of the stems which tend to be harder. Put the coriander in a mixer in a food processor 4–5 small green chilies (or “hari mirchi”) and a splash Lemon or lime juice to smooth out the mixture. Once the green chili seeds are visibly broken, add roughly ½ cup frozen desiccated coconut, thawed, along with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 2-3 tablespoons of whole milk yogurt (preferably Desi yogurt, which is more acidic than other types of yogurt). Try the mixture: it should be salty and sour. Add roughly 1 teaspoon of tamarind concentrate (this gives the chutney its characteristic acidity) and puree until smooth, adding more coconut and tamarind to taste. Eat immediately or put in an airtight container – it will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.

I like to eat my green chutney on sourdough toast with fresh ricotta, on crackers as an afternoon snack or next to instant dosas (I use the MTR instant mix). To be honest, I’m counting the days until I can see my Chithi Pati again. There really is nothing quite like fresh green coconut chutney next to a homemade dosa, especially when it comes from someone who loves you.

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