Crunchy Coconut Relish

6 May

Coconut relish is one of the classic Indian relishes, particularly in the South. I make quite a few different coconut relishes, chutnies or pachadis. This one is quite dry and crunchy; a delicous blend of cool coconut, hot chillis with fried spices and crunchy lentils stirred in at the last moment.  It is a perfect accompaniment to vegetable curries, dals and Indian breads.

  • 100g desiccated coconut or half a fresh coconut grated
  • juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 dried red chillies, crumbled
  • 1/4 tsp very hot chilli powder (I use lemon drop) optional or to taste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable, coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp urid dal
  • 1tsp brown or yellow mustard seeds
  • 16 dried curry leaves, crumbled or small sprig fresh curry leaves
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • pinch asafoetida

If desiccated coconut is used, sprinkle it with 3 tablespoons water or coconut milk and mix well to moisten. Stir in the lime juice, chilli powder and salt to taste. Heat oil in a small pan and fry the mustard seeds and dhal until the seeds pop and the dhal is golden. Add the the dried chilli curry leaves wait until the chilli darkens then add the nigella and asafoetida and turn off the heat immediately, pour over the coconut and mix well leave to stand for 15 minutes before serving. It will keep for 3 or 4 days in the fridge.


Note if you can get fresh coconut then fantastic – use it – the grated flesh of fresh coconut tastes so much better. You can also make a smoother chutney by adding a little more liquid and grinding the whole lot to a smooth paste but I personally like the crunchy texture of it made this way. I sometimes add crumbled dried red chillis instead of the fresh or powdered and that is wonderful too
Gardeners Note If there is one thing I wish I could grow in my garden and I can’t it is a coconut. I love it but there is no hope, it is early May here and it has been raining for days and the temperatures feel like they have gone back to winter.
Recipe Source The original recipe came from Rafi Fernandez’s ‘Thenga Chutney’  p 82 in Cooking of Southern India. I have adapted it over time to my taste so it is a quite different and this is my version of her wonderful recipe.
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