Kara Chutney | An Onion-Tomato coconut chutney

I am on a diet these days. Nothing concrete as yet. But definitely taking a more, disciplined approach. I am not snucking in cake everytime I pass the fridge, I am not grabbing handfuls of lindt chocolates and leaving them on the dashboard to soften up and then popping them in one after another while I drive, I am not eating the extra biryani I couldn’t fit in the fridge, I am not buttering both slices of a peanut butter sandwich anymore (just one). I even ate just one Samosa in my office canteen today instead of two (our canteen guy won’t give beyond 2 samosas).

kara chutney,onion tomato chutney,chutney for idli dosai
Jagan is different. He is either eating biryani and fried chicken, slurping Coke and digging into Falooda or he’s eating kanji. These days, he eats oats porridge, boiled vegetables and Ragi Kanji.
What brought this on was a video of Yuvi’s fancy dress competition where Jagan was filming Yuvi and I happened to step into the frame for a micro-second and I saw in morbid detail my roundness. Kadavule! Kadavule!

Remember the AB workout challenge that I said I was taking a couple of months back. Well, I didn’t continue beyond the first week. I am getting quite accustomed to this shape, I’ve stretched my clothes into being shaped like me too. If I don’t do something soon, I am quite certain I’ll stay this way forever.

kara chutney,onion tomato chutney,chutney for idli dosai

The one part of a buffet that I ignored usually was the “Salad” section. I made salads every-day last week. You’ll definitely be seeing more salads and stir-fries around here.
It’s a pity I am not able to tie in this Kara chutney with my diet because it is a bloody good chutney. This is the kind of chutney that behoves an extra dosai, an extra oothappam, an extra idli. You’ll eat extra dosai for this chutney and then because there’s extra dosai and you’re just short of chutney, you’ll have an extra helping of chutney and because you have extra chutney you’ll need some more dosai and then some more chutney, some more dosai… (Chutney kaage dosai, dosai kaage chutney.. you know. So much easier in Tamil!). This chutney doesn’t help if you’re on a diet. But if you’re not, you will most definitely need to make it ASAP. Go buy the Dosai Maavu packet (Dosai batter) from the store if you don’t have Dosai batter at home. Scoop up this chutney with hot ghee laced (sorry ¼ tsp oil) dosai. Tell me later if it is worth going on the diet.

kara chutney,onion tomato chutney,chutney for idli dosai

Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 15 mins
Serves: 4-5
Ingredients – Chutney

Onions – 2 medium chopped roughly
Tomatoes – 2 medium chopped roughly
Garlic – 4 pods peeled
Ginger – ½ inch piece scraped, chopped
Curry leaves – 1 stem
Coriander leaves with stem – 3/4 cup loosely packed
Green chillies – 3 chopped roughly
Whole dry red chillies – 4
Urad dal/Black gram – 1 tsp
Coconut – ¾ cup to 1 cup grated
Salt to taste
Tamarind extract – ¼ cup from a small marble sized tamarind
Oil – 3 tsp

Ingredients – tempering

Oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – from 1 stem
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Asafoetida – a pinch

  1. Heat a pan/kadai and add one teaspoon oil.
  2. Fry the urad dal and whole dry red chillies in oil. When the dal turns brown, remove the chillies and urad dal to a plate using a slotted spoon.
  3. To the same pan add the chopped onions and fry till the onions turn translucent. Remove the onions to the same plate. Now add in the chopped tomatoes and fry till they turn soft and are easily “squishable” with your spoon. Remove the tomatoes to the same plate.
  4. Add more oil if necessary. Add the curry leaves, garlic and ginger and fry for 1-2 minutes. When the garlic turns golden around the edges, remove onto the plate.
  5. Add the coriander leaves and chopped green chillies and fry till the leaves are wilted and the green chillies are scorched. Remove onto the plate.
  6. Finally add the grated coconut and fry on low heat for 2-4 minutes constantly stirring until the coconut gratings are nicely toasted, are a lightly golden here and there and don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove onto the same plate. The idea is to fry each item separately in oil (you can do in any order). 
  7. Cool all the ingredients. Transfer to a mixer jar. Add salt and the tamarind extract. Grind to a coarse chutney adding water as necessary.
  8. To temper the chutney, heat oil in the same pan. Splutter the mustard seeds, then add the curry leaves, asafoetida and urad dal. When the dal turns golden, tip in the ground chutney and mix well. Switch off. Serve with dosai, oothappam or idli.


  1. Jayanthi Padmanabhan says:

    Laku, frying each separately gives greater control over how much you want to cook each ingredient. I want onions to be translucent but not browned, garlic to be just browned around the edges, tomatoes just cooked to soft and not cooked till the peel separates, corainder leaves just wilted.. Putting everything together, you could over-cook some of them (coriander leaves for example) and the juices from the tomatoes will make it mushy. And Toasting the coconut separately will give you the coarse texture for the chutney.

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