Red Chutney For Idlis And Dosais| Tomato-Onion Chutney

The husband and I love having dosais and idlis for breakfast and dinner. To be honest, we love them so much because we love experimenting with different types of chutneys to go with them. Some days, we choose a simple white coconut chutney, a minty chutney on other days, while a red tomato-onion chutney on yet other days.

The tomato-onion chutney that I am about to tell you today is something my mother taught me how to make. It is one of our favourites, quite simple to whip up, and which goes wonderfully well with most types of dosais and idlis.


Here is how we make the chutney.

Ingredients (yields 1 small bowl):

  1. 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
  2. 6 ripe tomatoes, chopped into cubes (I prefer using country tomatoes, as they are quite sour and give the chutney a beautiful flavour)
  3. 5-6 big cloves of garlic, peeled
  4. Salt, to taste
  5. 2 tablespoons chana daal
  6. 2 tablespoons urad daal
  7. 4 dry, red chillies
  8. 2 tablespoons groundnuts
  9. 2 tablespoons grated, fresh coconut
  10. 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  11. 1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon + 2 teaspoons of oil
  12. A few fresh curry leaves


  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan, and add the groundnuts, chana daal, urad daal and dry, red chillies. Roast, on medium flame, till the daals turn slightly brown and emit a lovely fragrance. Remove the roast ingredients onto a plate. Keep aside, and allow to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 more teaspoon of oil in the same pan, and add the chopped onions and garlic cloves. Roast on medium flame, till the onions begin to turn translucent. Then, add in the tomatoes and curry leaves to the pan. Roast on high flame, till the tomatoes lose their shape and the raw smell disappears. Keep aside and allow to cool.
  3. Pick out the roasted dry, red chillies from the remaining ingredients, and soak them in very little water till the other ingredients cool down and you are ready to grind the chutney. The red chillies should soak for at least 10 minutes, for smooth grinding.
  4. Once all the ingredients have cooled down, take the roasted daals and groundnuts, soaked red chillies (along with the little water they were soaked in), the coconut, salt to taste, as well as the roasted tomatoes-garlic-onion-curry leaves mixture in a large mixer jar. Pulse for a couple of seconds, without adding any water. Then, open the mixer jar and mix up the ingredients. Pulse again for a couple more seconds. Again, open the mixer jar and mix the ingredients. Pulse for a couple of seconds again. Do the pulse-open-mix routine till you get a coarsely ground chutney. Make sure all the ingredients are well mixed together and crushed, but coarse – do not let the chutney get too smooth or it loses all its flavour.
  5. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the same pan you roasted the ingredients in. Let the oil heat up, and then add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Add the ground chutney to the pan, mix well. On a medium flame, cook the chutney for a few seconds, stirring intermittently. Make sure the chutney doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Leave the chutney to cool down completely and then transfer to a clean, air-tight box. Use as and when required, with rotis, dosais or idlis. Refrigerated, the chutney stays good for 3-4 days.


  1. You can omit the coconut and the groundnuts, and the chutney will still taste good. I love adding them, though.
  2. If you are using farm tomatoes (which have a markedly less sourness quotient than country tomatoes), you might want to add a little tamarind that has been soaked in warm water while you grind the chutney.
  3. Increase or decrease the number of dry, red chillies that you use, to suit your taste preferences.
  4. You can even add a bit of jaggery while grinding the chutney. This gives it a beautiful, beautiful flavour, but I often do without the jaggery.
  5. Instead of roasting the curry leaves along with the tomatoes, garlic and onions and then grinding them, you can use them in the garnish along with the mustard seeds. Whenever we do that, though, we tend to discard the curry leaves on the sides of our plates, and their numerous health benefits never reach our tummies! Adding them in with the rest of the ingredients and grinding them seems to be a better option, instead.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Lina says:

    Sounds delicious!

    1. @Lina

      Do try it out some time!

      1. Lina says:

        Sure 😊 I could do a recipe review if you want…i have one pending, I could

      2. Lina says:

        *Do it after that

      3. @Lina

        Oh, wow! I never knew there’s such a thing as a recipe review! 🙂

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