No South Indian meal is complete without coconut chutney. Freshly grated coconut is best but is hard to find. The best substitute is frozen grated coconut from an Indian grocer. If you are not close to an Indian grocer, use dried, unsweetened, grated coconut from your grocer’s baking aisle. My version includes mint and cilantro. For a more authentic South Indian version, omit both.
1. Combine the chana dal in a shallow, heavy pan over medium–high heat and dry roast for 1 to 2 minutes. During the entire cooking time, shake the pan every 15 to 20 seconds to prevent burning. The chana dal should be slightly brown. Remove from the heat, cover with boiling water, and set aside to soften.
2. In a powerful blender, such as a Vitamix, combine the coconut, ginger, fresh chiles, mint, cilantro, drained chana dal, salt, red chile powder, and room-temperature water and blend until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
3. Return the pan used in Step 1 to medium–high heat and warm the oil. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, and dried chiles and cook for 40 seconds, until lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
4. Add the contents of the pan to the mixing bowl and stir gently until combined.
Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.