South Indian Tomato Chutney

When it comes to South Indian breakfast chutneys, most of us think coconut; but this recipe does without coconut altogether. The balance of tang and heat from the red chilies make it one of my favorites! It goes great with either idlis or dosas; the real beauty of the recipe though, is that it comes together in about 15 minutes!

Recipe: South Indian Tomato Chutney

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Accompaniment
Cuisine South Indian
Servings 4


  • Frying pan
  • Blender / food processor


  • 2 tsp Toor Dal [split pigeon peas]
  • 1 Small onion [roughly chopped]
  • 2 Tomatoes [roughly chopped]
  • 3 Dried Red Chilies
  • inch-long-piece Tamarind [can be replaced by half a tsp of tamarind extract, the packaged kind]
  • 2 tbs Oil
  • 1/4th tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 5 – 6 Curry leaves
  • Salt [to taste]


  • Soak the tamarind in 2 tablespoons of warm water1
  • Dry roast the Toor dal for 3 – 4 mins on a medium to low heat until it begins to give off a nutty aroma and changes colour2. Transfer to the blender jar.
  • Heat 1.5 tbs of oil in the pan; add the red chilies, onion, salt and sauté until the onion turns translucent3. This should take about 2 mins.
  • Add the tomatoes, pop a lid on, and allow to simmer on a low flame for 3 – 4 mins until the tomatoes soften4.
  • Now add this onion – tomato mix and the tamarind to a blender with the dal, and grind to a fine paste5. Taste check and add more salt if needed. The salt must balance out the tang from both the tomatoes and the tamarind.
  • The chutney is pretty much done at this point; but, if you want to go a step further, heat a tsp of oil in a small pan and add half a tsp of mustard seeds. When they pop, add curry leaves and allow them to crisp up. Turn off the heat and pour this seasoning into the ground chutney. Mix well and serve with idlis or dosas!
Keyword Chutney, Dosa Chutney, Idli Chutney, Quick Chutney, Red Chutney, Simple chutney, Tangy Chutney, Tomato Chutney

1This should give you a rough idea of the amount of tamarind to use. Make sure to remove the seeds and fiber, once the tamarind has softened.

2Here’s the change in colour you should look to achieve when roasting the dal.

3This is how the onions will look once adequately cooked and translucent.

4Here’s what the tomatoes will look like once soft.

5Here’s a picture of the ground chutney to give you an idea of how fine to grind the tomato – onion mix.

Let me know in the comments below if you decide to make this an need any more instructions. 🖖

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