How to Make Homemade Coconut Chutney

April 18, 2014

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Give even the simplest meal a flavor facelift by adding a spoonful of Nik from A Brown Table's bright, bold chutney.

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In my little kitchen, chutneys and pickles are my go-to ingredients for brightening up a simple meal with a burst of vibrant flavor. When I come home tired after a long day at work, I turn to Indian condiments as a quick and easy way to give a little kick to any meal, no matter how low-maintenance.

I love this particular chutney because it reminds me of growing up in Bombay, and everything about it is fresh and bold. My mom liked to serve it smothered between buttered slices of bread, but you can also eat it as a dip, a spread, or on the side of your meal. There are a million ways to make Indian coconut chutney, but this is a simplified version that doesn’t require too many spices. 

More: Use your chutney as a dip for lentil-stuffed samosas


To grate your own coconut, crack it with a hammer, holding it over a bowl to collect the water. Discard the outer shell and pull out the white flesh. Clean the white coconut meat of any fibers or shell using a clean paper towel or kitchen cloth. Then remove the outer brown skin using a vegetable peeler and chop the coconut into large chunks -- the food processor will do the grating.

Fresh Cilantro Coconut Chutney

Makes 2 generous cups

6 ounces fresh coconut, chopped 
1 bunch cilantro
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 to 3 Thai green chili peppers
1-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup water

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor fitted with a blade.  

Pulse until all of the ingredients are completely combined in a smooth paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally and add a little water to thin the chutney if it looks too thick. Remember to taste and adjust the quantities of salt and lime juice, if necessary. 

Transfer to a serving dish and let the chutney sit for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator so that the flavors come together.

The chutney is best easten the day it is prepared, but you can store it in an airtight container for up to a week. It can also be frozen for up to 3 weeks in a freezer-safe, airtight container. Make sure to thaw it completely before serving, but avoid microwaving.  

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Nik Sharma

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Nik Sharma is a molecular biologist turned cookbook author and food photographer who writes a monthly column for Serious Eats and the San Francisco Chronicle and is a contributor to the New York Times. His first cookbook, Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food, was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation award and an International Association of Culinary Professionals award. Nik resides in Los Angeles, California and writes the award-winning blog, A Brown Table. Nik's new book, The Flavor Equation will be released in October 2020.


Girl I. April 22, 2014
As always, I love your food Nik and I'm just waiting for a day when I see some coconuts in the markets, so I can give this delicious recipe a crack! ;)
JohnL April 20, 2014
I'm trying to spread the gospel about the Indian appliances known as "mixie blenders", which do a phenomenal job at producing spice pastes for such things as Thai curry, as well as Indian chutneys. Mixie blenders generally come equipped with 2 or 3 stainless blender jars, including a very small one specifically designed for chutneys and spice pastes, with a capacity of approx 1/2 cup. What sets these blenders apart from the crowd is that they mostly eliminate the necessity of adding extra water to a tough raw ingredients in order to get them churning (and smooth)--it does its work much more efficiently than mini food processors; regular blenders, even the magical Vitamix, don't even begin to compare when processing such small amounts. After I discovered the mixie blender on another blog, I took the plunge and ordered a Preethi model with 3 bowls. Now I wonder how I ever did without. My Preethi enables me to easily produce flawless, perfectly smooth pastes that easily surpass canned curry pastes, with my own fresh ingredients. Until I saw this dynamo in action, it was beyond my imagination. Lemongrass? Galangal? No problem for the mixie blender. It seems to be a standard piece of equipment in many Indian households where it is also used to make batter for their breakfast idli. You can see mixie blenders in use on YouTube and order them via Amazon--many different vendors out there. Check 'em out. I've even discussed this with Vitamix, but so far they don't have anything like this. It would require a new bowl and a re-designed blade. It's a mystery to me why you can't just walk into Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table and buy an Indian mixie blender.
gbatrucks April 20, 2014
Can I sub a Serano for the Thai?
Nik S. April 20, 2014
Yes, it should work. Adjust the amount of Serrano according to your taste preference.
pamela April 19, 2014
What would you serve this delicious chutney with?
Nik S. April 20, 2014
Hi Pamela, you can serve it as an accompaniment to pretty much any meal, it goes well with rice, savory Indian crepes and pancakes (such as dosas), inside sandwiches, or as a dip with crackers or pita chips. The options are endless.
stephanie L. April 18, 2014
ooh, fresh coconut! i've always wanted to buy one to crack open and this chutney looks like the perfect thing to make with one!
Nik S. April 18, 2014
Stephanie, time to crack that coconut!
Helen @. April 18, 2014
I love pickles and chutneys too!I haven't come across a recipe like this before and it looks fantastic - I imagine it'll be delicious with a few poppodoms to dip into it!
Nik S. April 18, 2014
That sounds perfect, Helen!
Lindsey S. April 18, 2014
I've never made a chutney (*gasp!), but any reason to use fresh coconut and I'm all in! Plus, this shade of green is just too beautiful! Love these photos, Nik!
Nik S. April 18, 2014
Thanks so much, Lindsey! You need to whip this up soon!
molly Y. April 18, 2014
this is just the happiest, prettiest chutney i ever done saw. i need it on my dinner table.
Nik S. April 18, 2014
Thanks Molly!!! I hope you get to make it :)
proma April 18, 2014
hi, i do not have fresh coconut handy which i know would have made a huge difference. but can i use unsweetened shredded coconut instead? what kind of modification do you think will be required?
Nik S. April 18, 2014
Hi Proma, the taste will be slightly different but you can use the same amounts of coconut. You might need to add a little more water or lemon juice to make it a little moist depending on how dry the coconut is.
Cynthia C. April 18, 2014
So so SO EXCITED to see you here, Nik!!!! This chutney looks soo good. I swear, one day, with your tutelage, I'll venture into the world of Indian cooking...
Nik S. April 18, 2014
Thanks, Cynthia! I am really excited too and hopefully one day you can teach me to cook all your delicious recipes.