Bombay Chutney| Gram Flour Chutney

What do you do when you need a side dish to serve with dosas or rotis, but don’t have much in your pantry? I often end up making Bombay Chutney in that case.

For the uninitiated, Bombay Chutney is a simple but very flavourful dish made with gram flour aka besan. It is quite a common accompaniment to breakfast in Tamil Nadu, and you will find it being served in several eateries. It takes bare minutes to prepare, making it the perfect go-to dish on busy weekdays and lazy weekends alike….or on hot, hot, hot summer days when you don’t want to spend hours slogging over the stove. Did I tell you that it tastes lovely too?

Why is this called Bombay Chutney, though? I haven’t found a satisfactory answer to that yet, but I am guessing it is because of the similarities this chutney has to the Maharashtrian Pitla, a runny side dish also made using gram flour. The recipe for pitla somehow trickled down south, a few ingredients got shuffled here and there, and Bombay Chutney was born. Bombay Chutney is Tamil Nadu’s version of pitla, if I may put it that way.

Come to think of it, several Indian states have a variation of the gram flour chutney. There’s the pitla, of course. You will find a slightly drier version of the same in Maharashtra and in the coastal regions of Karnataka, called Zunka. Gujarat has a similar, slightly sweet Kadhi Chutney, which is a popular accompaniment to snacks like khaman and fafda, called so because of its similar preparation style to kadhi. Andhra Pradesh has a tamarind-flavoured version called Senaga Pindi Pachadi.

Today, I present to you the Tamilian version of gram flour chutney, Bombay Chutney or Kadala Maavu Chutney the way it has always been made in our family. We don’t use buttermilk or garlic in it, ingredients which sometimes find their way into this chutney. Ours is quite a simple but robust affair.

Filled with the goodness of gram flour, this is a low-oil recipe that is vegan by its very nature. Skip the asafoetida, and it becomes a gluten-free dish as well!

Without further ado, here’s presenting to you the recipe for Bombay Chutney or Kadala Maavu Chutney.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 3 cups water
  2. 1/4 cup gram flour (besan)
  3. 1 tablespoon oil
  4. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  5. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  6. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  7. 1 sprig curry leaves
  8. 2 green chillies
  9. 1 small tomato
  10. 1 small onion
  11. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  12. Salt to taste
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. A dash of red chilli powder
  15. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander


1. Peel the ginger and chop very finely. Keep aside.

2. Chop the tomato and onion finely. Keep aside.

3. Chop the green chillies into large pieces. Keep aside.

4. Take the water in a large mixing bowl. Add in the gram flour, salt to taste, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Whisk well, ensuring there are no lumps. Keep aside.

5. Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and green chilli pieces. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn.

6. Add the chopped onion and ginger. Saute till the onion starts turning brown.

7. Now, add the chopped tomatoes to the pan. Sprinkle a little water and cook on high heat till the tomatoes turn mushy.

8. Now, turn the flame to medium. Add the gram flour slurry to the pan. Cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or till the chutney starts thickening. Stir intermittently.

9. Switch off the gas when the Bombay Chutney has thickened but is still quite runny. It will thicken further on cooling.

10. Serve immediately with dosas, parathas or rotis, garnished with finely chopped fresh coriander.


1. For best results, use good-quality gram flour that is free of any odours or insects.

2. This Kadala Maavu Chutney thickens quite a bit when it cools. So, it is best to keep it runny to start with. Also, for this very reason, this chutney is best served immediately.

3. You can add a glug of buttermilk to the Bombay Chutney to make it more flavourful. You might want to skip the tomato, in that case.

4. You can skip the tomato in the above Bombay Chutney recipe and squeeze in some lemon at the end instead.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!


This recipe is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge group that I am part of. Every alternate month, members of the group present recipes using ingredients in alphabetical order. This month, we are cooking using ingredients from the letter G, and I chose ‘gram flour’ as my star ingredient.

I’m also sharing this with Fiesta Friday #274. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.


51 thoughts on “Bombay Chutney| Gram Flour Chutney

  1. That’s how my mom made it too!! And I used to wonder why it’s called Bombay chutney… Thanks for posting this Priya πŸ™‚


  2. This sounds very easy to make on days when you literally have nothing in your pantry… Totally love such hassle free recipes… I agree that sometimes you just don’t get any explanation as to why some recipes are called so… πŸ™‚


  3. Gram flour chutney is totally new for me. This simple and easy recipe is for sure a saver on busy days or when we run out of ideas.


  4. I heard of this only very recently and your comparison to Pitla / Zunka appears plausible, Priya! . This recipe will surely save one from embarassment when the fridge is empty and no side dish is available for Dosa / Chapati πŸ™‚ ! let me try this and see how my kids like this..


  5. Reading the name I first thought it was from Maharashtra and thought I am so new to this. Reading your post made me understand. I would love to dig in this chutney with some hot bhakri’s.


  6. Priya, This is so much like Pitla! I love how you describe that β€œThe recipe for pitla somehow trickled down south, a few ingredients got shuffled here and there, and Bombay Chutney was born.” πŸ˜€ It is amazing to trace food journeys down regions and cuisines and especially in India where the same ingredient is made in so many different ways across the States! Thank you for sharing this… will definitely try it out next time when I am low on veggies in the fridge πŸ™‚


  7. aha.. my mother used to make bombay chutney with roti or dosa. I had forgotten it for a long time. Glad to see it revived


  8. A quick side dish that would pair well with rotis, parathas and south indian breakfast dishes. Extremely budget friendly recipe too If I may add. Very similar to Pithla as you mentioned.


  9. Its been ages since I’ve had this kind of chutney. Remember having it with some fafda in Mumbai. Loved it as its got onion and tomato as opposed to the Gujarati version which doesn’t have it.


  10. Bombay chutney looks so inviting and flavourful. This is totally a new dish for me. Loved to eat with dosa & idli !!


  11. So much similarity with Rajasthani Kadhi too (expect for the tomato part) that is served with kachoris or mirchi vada there.. Loved your version .though never heard of it but it surely a flavourful accomplishment with dosa, paranthas


  12. My father absolutely loves this chutney and so I make it often. Your recipe is different from mine and I would love to make this variation too.


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