Pair Your Breakfast With These Five South Indian-Style Chutneys

Ashwin Rajagopalan  |  Updated: October 10, 2018 10:43 IST

Pair Your Breakfast With These Five South Indian-Style Chutneys
  • Making a chutney is not just effortless but can get interesting
  • Not too many restaurants that serve you four chutneys
  • Here's a list of easy recipes you can try at home

Murugan Idli shop is one of the Chennai's most popular vegetarian restaurants. While the restaurant's calling card is its super-soft idli that almost borders on sticky, most regulars will tell you that they keep going back for the accompaniments. There are not too many restaurants that serve you four chutneys when you order a couple of idlis or a dosa. You might not have time to make four chutneys on a Monday morning, but it's certainly possible to wake up to different South Indian chutney each day of the week. As I've discovered, making a chutney is not just effortless but can get interesting, as you start tweaking the ingredients. Here's a list of easy recipes you can try at home:

Coconut And Onion Chutney

I discovered this chutney during my many visits to Kerala and it's my favourite chutney for idli or dosa, especially at breakfast.


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  • Grated coconut - one cup
  • Shallots or one large onion - finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 dried red chillies 
  • 1 tomato - finely chopped (optional). The tomato adds a completely different, tangy flavour profile to this chutney. This is my slight tweak to this classic recipe.  
  • Coconut oil (preferably cold-pressed) - 1 teaspoon 
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves - a few 
  • Salt - to taste 


  1. 'Temper' the mustard seeds, curry leaves and then add the coconut, onion, red chillies and tomatoes (optional) till the raw taste goes out of the ingredients. 
  2. Cool it down and grind in a blender after adding the salt. 

Tomato-Green Chutney 

I took the cue for this recipe from one of the chutneys I tried at the Murugan Idli Shop in Madurai. 


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  • Grated coconut - half cup 
  • Garlic - 4-5 pods
  • Ginger - a small piece (finely chopped)
  • Green chilli - 1 or 1 1/2
  • Curry leaves - a few 
  • Coriander - a large bunch 
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Tomatoes - 2 (finely chopped) 
  • Salt - to taste 
  • Urad dal - 1/2 teaspoon 
  • Cooking oil (Rice bran oil) - 1 teaspoon 


  1. 'Temper' the mustard seeds, curry leaves and urad dal. Then add the ginger, garlic, grated coconut and finally the tomatoes and fry till the raw taste goes out of the tomatoes. 
  2. Cool down and blend in a mixer after adding salt and coriander leaves. 

Peanut Chutney

I've always been partial to Andhra-style chutneys that don't use coconut. This one works really well with idli and dosa and also with a typical Andhra pesarattu.


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  • Peanuts (better without the skin) - half cup 
  • Onion - half 
  • Cumin - 1/2 teaspoon 
  • Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
  • Garlic - 2 cloves
  • Red chillies - 3
  • Cooking oil - 1 teaspoon
  • Tamarind - small quantity 
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Urad dal - 1/2 teaspoon 
  • Salt - as required 


  1. Dry roast the peanuts and some of the curry leaves separately.
  2. Add the peanuts, curry leaves, chillies, salt, cumin, garlic onion and tamarind and blend in a mixer.
  3. 'Temper' the mustard seeds, urad dhal and balance curry leaves and add it to the blend. 

Ginger Chutney

This Andhra-style chutney works best for pesarattu but is also a great accompaniment for dosa, especially if you like the overbearing ginger flavour.


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  • Ginger - 1 1/2 inch piece 
  • Chenna dal - 2 tablespoon 
  • Urad dhal - 1/2 tablespoon
  • Red chillies - 2 to 4 
  • Tamarind paste - 1 tablespoon 
  • Onion - 1 (finely chopped)
  • Jeera - 1/2 teaspoon 
  • Cooking oil - 1 teaspoon


  1. Fry all the ingredients (except the tamarind and the ginger).
  2. Once it cools add the ginger and tamarind and blend in a mixer.
  3. 'Temper' with mustard, jeera and curry leaves. 

Bangalore-Style Coconut Chutney

Memories of this chutney and a thick and crispy masala dose are deep rooted in my childhood. This was the quintessential Sunday breakfast at my aunt's house and this chutney was just perfect for the masala dose. Many vegetarian restaurants in Bengaluru still serve this chutney. 


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  • Coconut - finely grated - 1 cup 
  • Roasted Bengal gram - 1/4 cup
  • Green chillies - 2 or 3
  • Finely chopped coriander - 1/2 cup
  • Garlic - 2 pods 
  • Raw mango - two or three small pieces (optional. This is my aunt's seasonal twist and adds a nice tang) 
  • Mustard - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves - a few 
  • Cooking oil - for the tempering 
  • Salt - to taste 


  1. Grind all the ingredients in the blender along with salt to taste.
  2. 'Temper' the paste with the mustard seeds and curry leaves.

So, there you have it. Five chutneys for each day of the week. You can keep adding your own twists and seasonal ingredients and develop your own versions. You will find that some of these chutneys might make an interesting accompaniment to breakfast staples aside from idlis and dosas.


About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.

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