South Indian Coconut Chutney (Thengai Chutney, Nariyal Chutney) is a South Indian condiment that is served with dosa, idli, vada, and also as a part of a meal. Made with fresh coconut, it is one of the most versatile chutneys that pairs well with any South Indian snack or breakfast.
About This Recipe
South Indian Coconut chutney is a popular south Indian condiment made using fresh coconut as its main ingredient and is traditionally served with dosa, idli, upma, vada, and can also be a part of your delicious South Indian meal.
No matter which South Indian restaurants you go to, this chutney will always be served on the plate with crispy hot dosa, soft idlis, and crunchy vadas.
This classic coconut chutney recipe requires a few everyday ingredients, the most important being – fresh coconut.
Every South Indian home has its own way of preparing it, and in this post, I am sharing the recipe of the classic white coconut chutney recipe I learned from my mom.
Once you learn to make the basic white chutney, you can make many variations by adding a few other ingredients to the recipe.
You can also make it dry or flowy, depending on your preference.
All the ingredients to make this chutney are easily available at Indian grocery stores.
Coconut – Fresh coconut is the star ingredient of this chutney. To save time, use frozen coconut which is already grated. You will find it in the freezer section of any Indian grocery store.
If using frozen coconut, make sure to bring it to room temperature otherwise the fat might separate and the texture of the nariyal chutney will not be nice.
You can also use unsweetened desiccated coconut or coconut flakes to make nariyal chutney.
Roasted Bengal Gram (Bhuna Chana) – These are different from the chana dal (Bengal gram lentils). They give a nice body to the chutney. If you do not add the roasted gram, the water will separate from the chutney after some time, and it will become watery. If Bengal gram is not available, you can replace them with roasted peanuts or sesame seeds.
Yogurt (Dahi, Curd) – Yogurt adds a lovely tang to coconut chutney. To make a vegan chutney, skip adding it or replace it with a teaspoon of lime juice.
Green Chili & Ginger – Adjust the amount of these two according to your taste.
Tamarind Paste – It gives a nice tang to the chutney apart from the yogurt. Do not miss it. If you do not have tamarind paste, you can also soak a lime size ball of seedless tamarind in ½ cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Squeeze it, discard the pulp and use the water while grinding the chutney.
For Tempering – Tempering is optional but a nice tempering elevates the taste of this chutney to another level. You will need cooking oil, black mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves, asafetida, and dry red chilies.
You can use any vegetable oil or even coconut oil to temper the chutney.
How To Make White Coconut Chutney
Make the Chutney
Add 1 cup grated fresh coconut, ¼ cup roasted Bengal gram, 2 tablespoon plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies, ½ inch piece of ginger (chopped), 2 teaspoon tamarind paste, and ½ teaspoon salt to a blender along with ½ cup water.
Blend for 2-3 minutes or until smooth.
Scrape the sides of the blender a few times while blending.
Check for salt and add more if needed. You can also add more water if you like thinner chutney.
Transfer the chutney to a small serving bowl.
Tempering The Chutney
To temper the chutney, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a small skillet (tadka pan) over medium-high heat. You can also use sesame oil or coconut oil for tempering.
Once the oil is hot, add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds and 1 teaspoon white urad dal (split and skinned black lentils). Fry until the dal turns golden brown(40-60 seconds). Keep stirring while frying using a small spoon.
Add 1-2 broken dry red chilies (remove the stalk), 10-12 curry leaves, and ¼ teaspoon asafetida, and fry for 2-3 seconds.
Pour the tempering over the chutney and mix well. You can save some tempering for the garnishing.
Serve the coconut chutney at room temperature.
Here are some variations of coconut chutney that you can make once you learn the classic recipe.
Red Coconut Chutney – It is made by adding dry red chillies to the basic chutney.
Green Coconut Chutney – It is made by adding fresh cilantro (coriander) to the basic chutney.
Mint Coconut Chutney – Fresh mint leaves add a lovely flavor to the nariyal chutney.
Curry Leaves Coconut Chutney – Adding some fresh curry leaves gives a very nice yet different taste to this chutney.
Andhra Style Coconut Chutney – This variation is made by roasting lentils and coriander seeds and then blending them with the remaining ingredients.
Peanut Coconut Chutney – It is made by adding roasted peanuts to the classic chutney.
Green Mango Coconut Chutney – Add tangy green mangoes to the classic chutney to make this variation.
Tomato Onion Coconut Chutney – It is made by sauteeing tomatoes and onions and then adding them to the basic recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Opening a coconut is a tricky process but with some practice, you can do it easily.
To start with, remove the husk from the outside of the coconut and keep it on a sturdy surface.
I generally keep it on the backyard steps and not on my kitchen counter. Now using a heavy knife or a hammer, tap hard at the center of the coconut. It should break into two halves. If not, then try a few more times.
To take out the coconut meat, freeze the halved shells for 6-8 hours. Then thaw them for an hour. Now insert a knife all along with the corners and the coconut flesh will come out easily.
Cut the flesh into small pieces and either remove the brown skin using a vegetable peeler or a knife or use it as is.
Yes, you can eat it during pregnancy. In fact, coconut is considered very good to eat while pregnant. But make sure you eat in moderate quantities and also consult your doctor.
All the ingredients in this chutney except yogurt are vegan. Skip the yogurt to make a vegan version.
To make it gluten-free, just skip adding asafetida (hing).
If you don’t have fresh coconut available, you can use coconut powder or grated dried coconut. You can even use frozen desiccated coconut if fresh is not available.
You can also serve it as a dip with nachos or chips or slather it over sandwiches and wraps.
Store thengai chutney in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days. Store it in an airtight container and use a clean spoon to take out the chutney every time you use it.
You can freeze this chutney in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag for up to a month. Store in small containers good for one-time use. Thaw and use.
To bring back the chutney to life, you can give it a fresh tempering.
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South Indian Coconut Chutney Recipe (Thengai Chutney)
To Make The Chutney
- 1 cup grated fresh coconut
- ¼ cup roasted Bengal gram (bhuna chana) (or roasted peanuts)
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt (dahi, curd)
- 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies (adjust according to your taste)
- ½ inch piece of ginger (chopped)
- 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
- ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or any other oil)
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon split and husked black lentil (white urad dal)
- 1-2 whole dry red chilies (stalks removed and broken into 2-3 pieces)
- 10-12 curry leaves
- ¼ teaspoon asafetida (hing)
Make The Chutney
- Add all the ingredients to make the chutney in a blender along with ½ cup of water.
- Blend for 2-3 minutes or until smooth.
- Scrape the sides of the blender a few times while blending.
- Add some more water if the chutney is thick for your liking.
- Check for salt and add more if needed.
- Transfer the chutney to the serving bowl.
Temper The Chutney
- Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and urad dal and fry until the dal turns brown (40-60 seconds). Keep stirring while frying.
- Add broken whole dry red chilies, curry leaves, and asafetida and fry for 2-3 seconds.
- Pour the tempering over the chutney and mix well.
- Tip – You can save some tempering for the garnishing.
- Serve the chutney at room temperature.