I have a distinct memory of the taste of the coriander chutney served with dosa at a restaurant in Thiruvannamalai. It did not have the raw green taste. I asked them how to make it. But, since I did not get the proportions right, it had not turned out well. So when I found out that my new domestic help belongs to Thiruvannamalai, I asked her what kinds of chutneys she makes at home for dosa and idli and she mentioned the coriander chutney. I asked her the method and from her description I could make out this is the same one I must have had at the restaurant. Got her to make it today morning and it was simply yum! I loved her style of cooking. She roasted the whole garlic cloves without chopping them. She has no hesitation about the quantity of ingredients. Unlike me, she was lavish about the quantity of oil and the amount of garlic. In the below recipe, I have reduced the amount of oil significantly. Unlike Navaratna chutney which is sap green in color has a raw taste, the color of this chutney is yellow green resembling pickled olives and has a cooked taste.
For roasting and grinding
Coriander leaves – 2 cups (tightly packed)
Urad dal – 2 tbsp
Chana dal – 2 tbsp
Dry red chillies – 7-8 (adjust to taste)
Tomato – 2 medium
Garlic – 1 pod (8-10 cloves)
Coconut – 1-1/2 cups
Tamarind – lemon sized ball
Oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves – 1 sprig
Dry red chillies – 2
Oil – 1 + 1 tsp
Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Makes 2 cups
Wash, drain, and chop coriander leaves. You may use the tender stems as well. They add to the flavor.
Heat oil in a pan and add chana dal. When they start sizzling and changing color, add the urad dal and saute until they start turning red.
Add garlic cloves (whole will do – no need to chop them), chopped tomato, dry red chillies and saute in medium flame for 5 minutes.
Add the coriander leaves and let them wilt a bit and turn dark green in color. Do not overdo this. Just let the leaves wilt and turn off the fire. If you overcook the coriander, the flavor will be lost.
Add tamarind and grated coconut and let this get lightly cooked in the residual heat of the pan.
Once the ingredients cool down, use a mixer to grind along with salt. You would not need to add water as the tomatoes and coriander would have some water content. Do not overgrind. Grind until the red chillies and the roasted dals have been ground well.
Now for garnishing, heat oil in the same pan and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, split the dry red chillies into two, add that and the curry leaves. Roast for less than a minute and then add the chutney to this pan. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes or so.
Turn off and transfer to a serving bowl.
Chutney is ready to be served with dosa, idli, roti, or even rice.
Notes: If you want to avoid garlic, you can substitute it with a half an inch piece of ginger.
You could skip the tomatoes and add a little more tamarind but using tomato and tamarind in the given proportion is recommended to balance the tart.
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