Coconut invokes the idea of a sweet dish. Even though it doesn’t naturally have a saccharine flavor, most of the coconut one finds at the grocery store is the dehydrated, sweetened variety.
Somehow coconut chutney always strikes me as a bit of juxtaposition, because it has a very savory taste. This has long been my favorite type of chutney, perhaps because of that strange mental 180 of coconut in a unsweetened context.
It is unfortunate that most Americans’ idea of coconut is dried and rather tasteless, used more for texture than flavor at times. If you have never tasted it fresh, I highly suggest that you get yourself to the nearest Whole Foods and pick up a container. There is really nothing like fresh coconut. Beware of eating the whole thing in one go though, as it is rather fatty (but it’s good fat!).
I typically serve this chutney with idli and sambar or dosas, but I bet there are a number of interesting applications to non-Indian food. Let me know what you discover in your kitchen.
Prep-time: 5 minutes
Serves: 8 (as a condiment)
- one package fresh (available in chunks in the fruit section at Whole Foods) or frozen (available at Indian grocery stores) coconut
- fresh ginger
- three or four small green finger chilis
- black mustard seeds
- red chili powder
- vegetable orcanola oil
- Peel and roughly chop about one inch worth of ginger.
- Chop the green chilis into eighth inch rounds.
- If you are using grated or shredded frozen coconut, break off half the coconut and nuke it in the microwave for thirty seconds to soften it.
- In a small sauce pan, heat a tablespoon and a half of oil.
- Toss the chilis, ginger, a pinch of salt, and the coconut into a magic bullet or blender. If you are using fresh coconut, use the whole package.
- Transfer the blended ingredients to a serving bowl.
- Add one teaspoon each black mustard seeds and turmeric and a half teaspoon each hing and red chili powder, and fry the spices for one minute or until the mustard seeds begin to pop.
- At that point, quickly remove the spices from heat so they don’t begin to burn (it will give a different taste to the chutney), and pour the oil into the blended mix.
- Stir thoroughly to mix. The oil should lend a greenish color to the chutney (this is from the turmeric).
- Serve right away or store in the fridge for up to a week.
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