Friday, November 11, 2005

Mint chutney- South-Indian style

Most South-indian hotels serve a green mint chutney with dosas. It is nothing but a thinned down version of Mint thogaiyal. Making large batches of chutney requires enormous quantities of the main ingredient. Thogaiyal is a type of chutney. The addition of lentils and coconut gives a lot of volume, an excellent way for restaurants to save on expensive herbs.

While chutney is made with mostly fresh ingredients and is paste-like, thogaiyal involves some sauteeing of the ingredients and grinding them into a thick and coarse mass. The sauteeing step gives a richer flavor and also increases the life of the thogaiyal to about 5-7 days. Fresh chutneys can keep for a maximum of 2 days only.

Thogaiyal can be made with any sauteed vegetable. Most tamilians, make versions of this with coconut, lentils, broiled eggplant, cilantro, curry leaves or mint as the predominant flavoring.

Base for thogaiyal

4-5 red chilis
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 tsp urad dal (or 2 tsp urad dal + 1 tsp chana dal)
1/4 tsp whole peppercorns(optional)
1/4 tsp tamarind paste or 1 inch piece tamarind
2 T or more grated fresh or dessicated coconut (this is a good place to use dessicated coconut)
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped(optional)
1-2 green chilis(optional)

Saute red chilis, mustard, pepper, tamarind pod (if using) and dal until golden brown. Add coconut and saute until coconut turns golden brown. Remove to a bowl. Add ginger and green chilis and saute until slightly toasted. Add this to the bowl.

One of the following main ingredient is to be added:
1 small bunch mint (or a mix of cilantro and mint), sauteed until wilted and dry.
1 small bunch cilantro, sauteed until wilted and dry.
1/2 cup curry leaves, sauteed until wilted and dry.
1 cup grated coconut (Coconut thogaiyal), saute along with base ingredients until golden.
1/2 cup tur dal (paruppu thogaiyal), saute along with base ingredients until golden.
1 large eggplant, broiled until soft and skins removed

Grind the base mixture with the main ingredient, tamarind paste(if using) and salt into a coarse, thick mass. Season with mustard seeds and urad dal.

This is a great way to get a larger quantity of chutney when herbs or coconut is limited. It is excellent with dosa, yogurt rice or with the humble kanji (porridge).

Thogaiyal with rice-green gram kanji  Posted by Picasa


  1. I wish I could invite myself over for a taste, Mika! :) It's so frustrating to be so far away from all these gorgeous recipes! Making them myself is always possible but there's a special satisfaction from eating something that someone else has cooked :)

  2. Shammi- you are welcome to my place any time-). This recipe is something that your mom makes?

  3. This is a new recipe to me Mika. And you know, I love all kinds of pacchadis(chutneys). I will definitely going to try this. First I am going to try that Banana pepper subji, you poster earlier. It's on my weekend shopping list.

  4. Yup, Mika... my mom makes this recipe sometimes. I simply LURVE thogayals! :)

  5. Hi, after reading your blog, the book publishing group (situated in Northern California) that I work for would like to send you a review copy of a food memoir. Is there an e-mail address or snail-mail address that we can use to contact you more efficiently? We will not use your e-mail address for purposes beyond the sending of the review copy.

  6. Thanks Indira-I like chutnies of all types too.

    Jennynab- plz contact me at

  7. Mint thogaiyal! I make exactly the same way, with lesser red chillies. Making a thogaiyal with eggplant is new to me. We broil eggplant and make something similar to 'baingan ki barta' in tamilian style with tamarind for tanginess.

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  9. Hi!
    Thanks for the interesting recipe! Is there any substitute for the egg plant?