Chutneys can make or break a dish. In the case of dosas their role is larger than life. They come in various forms. In the guise of mint, coconut, tomato and lately even dates. I have yet to try the dates version. Long before I mastered (!) the art of making edible coconut chutney at home, we were patrons of 'dosa places' as they are generally called by the kiddos. Naturally what you eat first takes precedence over the latecomers in the taste ladder. While H and I were pretty happy with my humble coconut chutney, it was always difficult to get the kids to like it. Molu tolerated it but Kannan just would opt for the absent sambhar instead. Who has time to make the laborious and time consuming dosa and then sambhar too? We were lucky I managed to at least make a chutney! Lately though Kannan is more open to experiments and has latched onto cilantro as a flavor he likes. I started a quest to see if I can make a compromise chutney. That will give it a 4th C for compromise. In the process I discovered anything can be called a chutney so long as I have some coconut in it and some grinding is involved. Then as I was reaching the end of my patience, I chanced upon a few hotel style recipes. Thanks to these recipes and some trials I think I have now a recipe that is agreeable to all the clashing palates at home. Let us hope this is a long term solution to the chutney problem.
In The Mix
chana dal or bengal gram - 1/4 cup
fresh grated coconut - 1 cup
shallots - 1 medium diced
ginger - 1/2" piece peeled and diced
yogurt - 2-3 tbsp
green serano chili - 1 or 2 sliced
cilantro - 1/4 cup chopped
salt to taste
water - enough for the right consistency
1 tbsp coconut oil
mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
dry red chili - 2 each cut into pieces
curry leaves - 1 small sprig
How To Do
Roast the chana dal in a pan on high heat. Keep stirring and remove from heat at the first sign of color change to a darker shade. Grind together all the ingredients in the first list including the chana dal. Add enough water if the yogurt is not enough to keep the mixer going. Chana gives the restaurant like taste for Molu and cilantro gives the craved color to Kannan. Dad and mom are happy to eat anything made at home these days without specifications. Don't forget to add salt to taste.
Heat oil in a pan and add the mustards to splatter. Add red chili and saute till brown. You can add a pinch of methi/fenugreek/uluva if you like. I forgot it this time. Add curry leaves at the end, mix together and quickly remove from heat. They you can add the chutney to seasoning and heat for a short time or just add the seasoning to the chutney mix. Either way the chutney will come out ahead. Enjoy with dosa or idly. Despite the grand claims of hard labor above, I have found that the 'Sastha' brand of dosa batter is a good replacement for home made batter. Why not? Go ahead and enjoy your home made dosa with half the work if that is what keeps you going in the regular grind (pun intended) of life.