Kerala Style Red Coconut Chutney (Thenga Chammanthi)

If you’re familiar with South Indian cooking or have been following my recipes for a while now, you know that we love our coconut! We also love savory and spicy dishes for breakfast, and idli or dosa is a typical South Indian breakfast. My personal favorite is serving these with sambar, but a faster and still delicious option is a red coconut chutney. This chutney can be made looser like a curry (which I prefer for optimal pouring over idli), or you can keep it drier like a paste. It depends on if you’re someone who likes to absolutely drench your idli in your sauce of choice (as I do), or if you’re more in the “dainty dipper” camp. As one of my favorite IG home chefs says, “You’re the boss, applesauce!” Either way, it’s delicious!


  • 2 cups of ground coconut (fresh or frozen) – UNsweetened of course
  • 1/4 small yellow onion roughly cut, plus 1/4 small yellow onion diced
    • alternative: shallots which are traditionally used
  • 2-4 dry red chilies for blending, plus 1-2 dry red chilies for frying
    • alternative: red chili powder, amount to your liking
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder – this adds color without much heat
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled (no need to chop)
  • 1 stem of curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp white urad dal
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste, or 1 Malabar tamarind paste soaked in a small amount of hot water (optional)
  • coconut oil


  1. Blend together the coconut, ginger, 1/4 roughly chopped onion, 2-4 dry red chilies, and Kashmiri chili powder with just enough water to make a smoothe paste. Don’t add too much water because then the coconut won’t grind down smoothly.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat oil.
  3. Add mustard seeds, urad dal, 1-2 dry red chilies, curry leaves, and finally the diced onions. Sauté on low-medium flame until onions are translucent.
  4. Turn the flame to low, then pour the coconut paste into the saucepan.
  5. Add the tamarind paste, or 1 tablespoon of the tamarind water.
  6. Add enough water to achieve the consistency you desire.
  7. Add salt to taste.

Serve over idli or dosa! If you make a drier version, it’s a great condiment for rice.



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