3 Essential Chutney Recipes for Idli and Dosa

I am not even kidding, I actually Googled “Is there poetry about chutneys in South Indian languages?” Although I got no satisfactory answer from Google, you get my point. Chutneys are THAT important for us Indians, especially South Indians. Idli chutney recipes are essentially spicy Indian dips, and we take our dips very seriously! South Indian dishes are usually vegetarian but never dull, especially with a perfect accompaniment of chutney. So don’t let your idlis and dosas be lonely without a spicy, salty, savory chutney to scoop up and delight the taste buds in your mouth.

Green Chutney, White Chutney, and Red Chutney served with Hot Idli

South Indian Chutney

Chutneys are a mandatory accompaniment to food in South Indian cuisine. No matter which South Indian restaurant you go to around the world, you will definitely see chutneys being served on the side of dishes. Similarly, in South Indian households, it is almost impossible to serve food without a selection of chutneys to go with it. A South Indian breakfast is incomplete without a flavorful chutney to accompany it.

Idli chutney recipes and techniques vary from family to family. They change looks, flavors, and colors, and are ubiquitous in Indian cuisine. Chutneys provide a big return for little investment. These are easy recipes that will pay you back tenfold with explosive flavors.

The base ingredients of South Indian chutneys are fairly consistent. They include coconut, green chilies, ginger, dried red chilies, yogurt, tamarind, onions, and tomatoes. However, the varieties and experimental options are endlessly versatile.

Chutneys To Go with idli and Dosa

Now that I am (almost) done with my ode to chutneys, I’ll actually move towards the promised (and almost forgotten) recipes.

This blog post in particular refers to three of the most basic but essential chutneys to go with dosa or idli. While we know that idlis are almost married to sambar, a side-chick or side-kick of chutneys, spices things up a great deal. These three basic Cs are equally great for idli, dosas, uttapam, vada, and papadam etc.

Let us call these 3 idli chutney recipes the white, green, and red chutneys for now.

The WHITE Idli Chutney Recipe

Recipe Card

Our white chutney is basically just a simple white coconut chutney or khobryachi / nariyal chutney that is an essential accompaniment to almost all South Indian foods. 

While this chutney can have many versions of its own too, the simplest version is based heavily on coconut, flavored with different tangy elements and tempered with a choice of spices and herbs. For a simple coconut chutney, you do not need many ingredients, and most of those basic ingredients are present in every kitchen already.

Let us have a look at this idli chutney recipe.

White Chutney Ingredients

Ingredients for White Chutney

  1. ½ cup freshly grated coconut/ you can use frozen too
  2. Small lump of tamarind
  3. 2 tbsp roasted chana dal / bengal gram 
  4. 1 to 2 green chillies
  5. A pinch of salt
  6. A small piece of ginger
  7. 2 tbsp yogurt


  1. 2 tsp oil
  2. ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  3. ½ tsp urad dal
  4. ½ tsp cumin seeds
  5. A pinch of asafoetida
  6. 5-6 curry leaves
  7. 1-2 red chilies 

Cooking instructions for White Chutney

Making this white chutney is super easy, especially with blenders and the technology that we have today. You no longer have to sit and grind it over a slab. However, I highly prefer the good old mortar and pestle or slab. 

But to make a super quick and basic coconut chutney, you just need a blender and a small pan for the tadka, or tempering. Follow these instructions and you can get a foolproof khobryachi chutney or thengai chutney or dosa chutney, whatever you like to call it. 

  1. Throw the fresh coconut, yogurt, bengal grams, ginger and salt in your blender.
  2. Take a small lump of tamarind and soak it in water for half an hour, then squeeze the seeds and the outer layer to get the pulp.
  3. Add the squeezed tamarind pulp to the blender.
  4. Now add the green chilies but adjust the heat according to your preference. You can deseed the chilies to reduce the heat or you can use a lesser quantity.
  5. Now blend all the ingredients in the blender. the consistency of the chutney should be a smooth paste.
  6. Add a little water to adjust the consistency and keep scraping the sides to achieve a uniform texture.
  7. Now pour the chutney out in a serving bowl and you can consume it as it is or temper it for a pop of taste.


  1. Take a small pan and add your choice of oil to it.
  2. Now add urad dal in the oil and let it turn a nice golden-brown color.
  3. Add the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds and let them crackle to release their flavor.
  4. Now add the dried red chilies but break them into two pieces before you add them.
  5. Now add the curry leaves and just fry for thirty seconds at max.
  6. Now add a pinch of asafoetida and take the tempering off heat.
  7. Your tempering is now ready to pour on top of your chutney.
Tempering for White Chutney


Pour the tempering over your chutney in the serving bowl and your aromatic, flavorful chutney is ready to be devoured with your idlis and dosa.

Coconut Chutney
White Chutney / Coconut Chutney

The RED Idli Chutney Recipe

Recipe Card

This beautifully colored, bright red chutney is a staple go-to in many Indian homes, even in North India or in many other regions of India. This chutney is heavily based on tomatoes, and this is where it gets its lovely red color from. For this reason, we used to call it “red chutney” as kids.

This chutney is prepared in several different ways in different households and regions of India and the subcontinent. However, the South Indian tomato chutney is different because it is cooked and is a little more on the hotter side. So, it is a spicier, tangier version of the tomato chutney that is made in South Indian homes.

This chutney can be made with several variations, like with or without onions and some other ingredients. Today. We’ll just quickly go over the most basic South Indian tomato chutney recipe, which is based obviously on tomatoes and needs very few other ingredients. It is a quick, tangy and spicy side dish that is a great accompaniment to idli, dosa, uttapam, pongal, rice and many snacks like pakoras etc.

So, if tomatoes are in season and you don’t know what to do with them, you have to try this chutney!

Read on to see how easily you can make delicious idli chutney recipe at home.

Ingredients for Red Chutney / Tomato Chutney

Ingredients for Red Chutney

  1. 2.5 cups or ½ kg ripe tomatoes
  2. 5-6 pieces of garlic
  3. 4 inch piece of ginger
  4. 8-10 dried chilies
  5. A small pinch of turmeric
  6. A pinch of salt
  7. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  8. 2-3 tbsp oil


  1. 5-6 curry leaves
  2. 2 broken dry red chilies
  3. 1-2 Crushed garlic cloves 
  4. A pinch of red pepper powder
  5. A pinch of asafoetida (skip if you want a gluten-free recipe)
  6. ¼ tsp mustard seeds

Cooking Instructions for Red Chutney

Okay cheflings, it’s time to put your chef hat on and jump into the kitchen with a basket full of ripe tomatoes. We are about to make the most delicious red chutney ever. So follow the recipe step by step and master this quick and simple recipe.

  1. Rinse your tomatoes well and then chop them into pieces.
  2. Take a cast iron pan (for better flavor) and add 2 tbsp oil to it.
  3. When the oil is hot, roast your tomatoes until their skin is wrinkled and slight browned. Larger tomato chunks work better in this step.
  4. Add more oil to the pan and when it is hot, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds in the oil and lower the heat to release their flavor.
  5. When the mustard and cumin seeds have cracked, stir in the chopped garlic and ginger to the oil. Remember to keep the heat low to avoid burning them.
  6. Now add the dried red chilies and let the garlic and ginger turn into a nice golden brown color.
  7. Then add the tomatoes to your pan and take the heat to medium high.
  8. Add a pinch of turmeric and salt and let the tomatoes release their water and cook.
  9. Keep stirring the tomatoes to avoid them sticking to the base of the pan.
  10. Let the tomatoes turn mushy.
  11. When the water is completely dry and the chutney become aromatic, take it off the heat.
  12. Once it has cooled, add it to a blender and blend to your preferred consistency. Smooth paste or chunky salsa are both delicious!
Cooking the tomatoes

Tempering the Red Chutney

It is tadka time now. Life is boring without flavors, and we don’t want our tomato chutney to be boring at all, so let us temper it.

Tempering for Red Chutney / Tomato Chutney
  1. In the same cast iron pan or in a separate tadka pan, heat a tbsp of oil.
  2. Lower the heat and add mustard seeds to the oil and always hear them pop.
  3. Now add garlic to the pan.
  4. Break your dried chili into two and add it to the pan.
  5. Once the garlic turns into a nice golden brown color, add the curry leaves to the mixture.
  6. Now add a pinch of red pepper powder for the nice red color and your tempering is ready to go.
  7. Pour the tempering over your Tomato Chutney and enjoy!

Serving the Red Chutney

When your chutney looks bright and red like your cheeks do when you see your crush, it is ready for serving. Serve this chutney with idlis and dosas for breakfast. This chutney can also be served with dinner or lunch or with any Indian snack. It serves as a nice dip for nachos as well. Enjoy the chutney!

Red chutney / Tomato Chutney

The GREEN Idli Chutney Recipe

Recipe Card

This green chutney is not just a South Indian chutney, it is a universal South Asian chutney which is almost made in all Desi homes with little variations. Whenever you travel abroad and find a Desi restaurant, you will surely find this chutney on the table.

Commonly known as “pudina chutney”, this chutney is mostly based on a coriander and/or mint chutney recipe, with green chilies to spice it up. However, there are many variations of this idli chutney recipe, and it is made differently in different homes. The South Indian version is spicy, tangy, and refreshing as it includes coconut as well.

As universal as its presence is, it can be paired with a number of different foods, not just idlis and dosas. However, this side dish is a must with hot idli and dosa. Before I write a complete poem on this chutney (which I am tempted to do), let us move on to the recipe.

To make this easy recipe, have a look at its ingredients.

Ingredients for Green Chutney / Mint Cilantro Chutney

Ingredients for Green Chutney

  1. ½ cup freshly grated coconut (or frozen but thawed coconut)
  2. ½ cup fresh coriander leaves
  3. ¼ cup mint leaves
  4. 1 tbsp roasted gram dal (Bengal gram)
  5. 1-2 green chilies (or according to taste)
  6. ½ inch ginger
  7. 1-2 cloves of garlic
  8. 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
  9. A pinch of asafoetida (skip for gluten-free)
  10. A pinch of salt
  11. ½ tsp oil
  12. 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
Mixed Ingredients in Pan for Green Chutney


  1. 1 tsp oil of your choice
  2. ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  3. ½ cumin seeds
  4. ½ tsp urad dal
  5. 1 dry red chili

Cooking Instructions for Green Chutney

There is not much cooking to this recipe, mostly just blending and tempering, so it is time you get your food processor / blender ready or go old school and use a mortar and pestle.

Follow these step by step instructions to make this green idli chutney recipe quickly for a great dip with any snack or, of course, idli and dosa.

  1. Thoroughly wash and pat or air dry your mint and cilantro / coriander leaves to get rid of any dirt.
  2. Now heat a small pan and add a little oil and fry your chana dal in it.
  3. Now turn off the flame and add the asafoetida,coconut, garlic, green chili, coriander, and mint leaves.
  4. Give everything a good mix off-heat. Expect the pan heat to wilt the mint and cilantro leaves.
  5. Once the mixture cools down, pour it into your mixer/blender with chana dal and rest of the ingredients.
  6. Blend it to a smooth paste, you can add a little water to achieve your desired consistency.
  7. Once everything is blended and smooth, pour it into a serving bowl.

Tempering the Green Chutney

Not tempering your chutney makes me lose my temper because you miss out on such a beautiful aroma and flavor. So, to give your chutney the kick it deserves, temper it.

  1. Heat oil in a tadka pan and add mustard and cumin seeds to crackle.
  2. Now add the urad dal, let it turn into a golden brown color.
  3. Then break a dried red chili pepper and add it to the mix.
  4. Take your tadka off the flame and pour it over your chutney.
Green Chutney / Mint Cilantro Chutney

Serving the Green Chutney

Serve your green chutney with idli, dosa, uttapam, rice, pakora, sandwiches, or nachos. It has such a universal taste that you can serve it with absolutely anything, but remember to always give your food a tadka of love and passion for food – trust me, it doubles the flavor! 



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Hi! I’m Ravi Kumar.

I am a husband, father of 4, board certified neurosurgeon, and a lover of South Indian Food!

I created PaattisKitchen.com to memorialize the most delicious foods on earth. South Indian food is easy to make and hard to mess up. So pull up your sleeves, and come with me as we explore the vibrant spices, colors, aromas, and flavors of South Indian culinary tradition.



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