Best South Indian Onion Chutney Recipe
Do you love South Indian food? If so, you’re going to love this South Indian Onion chutney recipe. This is a classic side dish that’s enjoyed by people from all over India, and it’s perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re cooking for a small gathering or just want something to snack on, this side dish is sure to please.
Ready to give it a try? Great! In this post, we’ll show you all step pictures on how to make a delicious onion chutney using simple ingredients that you can find at your local grocery store. We’ll also provide some tips on how to customize the recipe to make it your own. Let’s get started!
About this South Indian Onion Chutney Recipe
This onion chutney is a type of South Indian chutney that’s made with red onions, chilies, and various spices. In the Tamil language, onions are called vengaya, so this chutney is also known as vengaya chutney.
This side dish has a complex flavor that is a mix of tartness, sweetness, and smokiness. Spices like cumin, garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, and red chilies add flavor while herbs like coriander leaves and curry leaves add freshness to this delicious onion chutney. To get a nutty aroma and delicious earthy flavor, you can add peanuts or lentils too.
It’s a popular side dish in South Indian cuisine and is available in almost all Indian restaurants. This smooth chutney is usually served with hot idlis, dosa, rava dosas, or medu vadas. It serves as a great alternative to the tomato and coconut chutney as well.
The color of the chutney varies according to the type of red chilies used. Byadagi red chilies give this chutney a brownish red tint, but for a beautiful red color without a ‘burn your face off’ spiciness, Kashmiri red chilies are preferred. In the end, any red chili will do. This chutney is ideal to be eaten fresh, otherwise put the leftover chutney in an airtight container for the next day’s use. Do not store this for a long time.
Variations of Onion Chutneys
There are many variations of vengaya chutney, each with its own unique flavors and ingredients. Many different chutney recipes are available on the web. Out of all those vengaya chutney recipes, the south Indian version of this Chutney is a little sweet and a little sour, which delights your taste buds.
Onion is the main ingredient in vengaya chutney recipes. There are two ways to add it. Some people use raw onions, while some prefer to use sautéed onions. You can use red or yellow onions. Lentils like urad dal and chana dal give a nutty flavor to Indian onion chutney recipes, but peanuts can also be a popular addition.
Some people consider vengaya chutney as a base that can be blended with their favorite veggies. Just make sure to sauté your veggies well before blending them with red or yellow onion chutneys. Adding coriander leaves or curry leaves can also elevate the flavor. Their absence won’t hurt, but adding these leaves gives an extra freshness to your vengaya chutney.
How to Make This South Indian Onion Chutney Recipe
There are many different ways to make onion chutney, but this is the recipe that I prefer out of all the vengaya chutney recipes. It’s simple and easy to follow, and the results are always delicious.
1.5 cups or 1 large chopped onion (red onions, regular onions, pearl onions, white onions, or yellow onions); The onion wonderfully balances the tanginess that comes from the rest of the ingredients like tamarind, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes. You can use raw onions, but we recommend using slightly browned onions that give a mildly sweet taste to the chutney.
Dried Red Chilies
4 to 5 Kashmiri red chilies: Dry red chilies are also one of the main ingredients that can be used as a whole or in the ground form. These dry chilies add a lovely smoky flavor. The color of the chutney partially depends upon the type of red chili used. Kashmiri red chilies give a bright color with a mild flavor, you can use Byadagi red chilies or any other dried red chili you find in the store.
1 or 2 Chopped garlic cloves: Garlic cloves contain sulfur compounds and give a mustardy flavor that feels slightly pungent to the taste buds. It adds a distinct flavor to your dish.
1 tbsp of Oil (sesame oil, peanut oil, or sunflower oil): Whichever oil you use will fit the role. This is one of the main ingredients of this recipe. It should be made from a raw source to give authentic flavor to chutney.
1 tbsp of Tamarind piece, tamarind paste, or lemon juice: Tamarind contains tartaric acid that gives a slight tart flavor to the chutney. The tamarind piece contains some debris so we recommend you soak the tamarind in one cup of water for half an hour. Strain the mixture releasing all the goodness in the tamarind extract. If tamarind is not available, you can use lemon juice but the taste will be different.
½ tsp of Cumin seeds: Cumin seeds are very dear to me and I love their aroma when crackling in hot oil. It is a powerful spice and adds warmness to the dish. Usually, two pinches are enough because cumin seeds have a strong flavor.
2 tbsp of Peanuts: Roasted peanuts are high in nutrition while imparting a sweet vegetal undertone. This is an optional ingredient that I usually leave out.
1 tsp of husked urad dal (Black gram) and husked chana dal (Bengal gram): Lentils give thickness and structure to the chutney. They also impart a delicious earthy flavor.
½ tsp Salt or as per your taste: Salt is just the king of spices. It enhances the flavor of your dish as per your taste buds.
1 teaspoon Jaggery or brown sugar: The sweetness from Jaggery may be used to balance the spicy flavor.
1 cup Water: For blending of ingredients
½ tsp of Mustard seeds: Mustard seeds either as a whole or in the grounded form are used for tempering your blended chutney. White mustard seeds are nutty and mild in flavor, while black mustard seeds add an extra depth to the spicy chutney.
8-10 Curry Leaves: These curry leaves when used for tempering add freshness to the dish. If curry leaves are not available, you can use coriander leaves.
1 pinch of Asafoetida seeds: Asafoetida seeds are just there to enhance the smooth flavor of red onions.
Soak tamarind and jaggery in one cup of water and set aside.
Take a pan and heat the oil in it. Fry urad dal and chana dal until they turn golden brown. Then fry peanuts and Kashmiri red chilies for a few seconds on low heat until they become aromatic.
Now add diced red onion and garlic cloves and begin to sauté them on medium heat with continuous stirring. When red onions are half done, add cumin seeds. When the color of the red onions turns to light golden, take them off the flame and let them cool at room temperature.
Strain the tamarind and jaggery mixture and add to this mixture. Also, add salt to taste. Mix them well. Now transfer this red onion mixture to a mixer jar, blender, or food processor blend. Add a little water, if needed, to make a smooth paste. Transfer this mix to a bowl.
Now put 1 tbsp of oil or ghee in a pan on medium-low heat. Add in the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Then add a pinch of asafoetida seeds and curry leaves. Fry these spices for a few seconds on medium heat till the curry leaves start changing their color.
Now add your onion mix to the tempered spices and stir smoothly. Add water to get the consistency that you want. Mix them well to form a smooth chutney before taking off the stove.
Voilà! Your South Indian onion chutney recipe is done! Enjoy it with hot idlis!
Serving suggestions for Onion Chutney
Onion Chutney goes well with a variety of South Indian dishes. This delicious side dish always adds an extra bit of deliciousness to Indian breakfast or lunch. Serve hot with your favorite dishes like crispy dosa, hot idlis, pesarattu, sandwiches, medu vada, etc. You can also use it as a dip with pakoras like paneer pakoda, potato pakora, and onion pakoda.
This Indian restaurant style chutney is great with rice or roti. This everyday food can also be served with Bonda and Uttapam. You can also use it as a spread on tortillas, toasted bread, or Parathas and then fill it with your favorite stuffings to make wraps and rolls. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
Pro-tips for perfecting this Indian onion chutney recipe
First, make sure you use the right kind of onions. You’ll want to go for red onions, white onions, pearl onions, or Spanish onions—they have a sweeter flavor that goes perfectly well with this dish. Don’t use scallions for this chutney recipe.
Use good-quality oil to fry the red onions. Sesame oil is a great option, but you can use any type of oil that you prefer. Two tablespoons may seem too much but it’s necessary to treat raw onions to remove the pungency of the onions properly.
Be careful while adding water to the recipe because too much water can dilute the flavor. A little water should be added first, then add more if needed.
Don’t forget to add in the spices! Coriander leaves, cumin seeds, and red chili powder are a must to add in chutney recipes.
The sourness comes from tamarind but you can use lemon juice if tamarind is not available.
After your meals, always make sure to keep the leftover chutney in a closed airtight container in the refrigerator. Reuse it within 1 day.
I recommend making the quantity you need for today and tomorrow. Don’t make large batches as the taste will alter if kept stored for a long time.
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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.