18 June 2012

Red bell pepper chutney

Sometimes I feel kind of guilty. Of all the food that I love to prepare and make on a regular basis, my very own and dear South Indian cuisine is not really in my regular rotation. Don't get me wrong...I love my idlis, dosas, sambhar, rasam, upma, pongal and all manner of vegetable poriyals (dry vegetable fries). The flavors of mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves, tamarind and coconut which form the backbone of our cuisine are amazing, and there's nothing that I'd rather eat when I go home. But I just don't cook South Indian very much. Nowadays though (perhaps inspired by my recent trip to India where my cousin Priya made me some great idlis and a peanut chutney), I'm feeling more determined to get back to my roots in the kitchen! On the menu tonight? Some rava idlis (post coming soon!), for which I decided to whip up a quick and delicious chutney with a beautiful red bell pepper sitting in our fridge.

There's nothing simpler really. Serve with idli or dosa. Or get creative and use as a sandwich spread or as a dip for crackers or sourdough bread. You'll get a taste of South India in every spoonful! And stay tuned for many more South Indian tastes here on The Mistress of Spices!

Makes a little less than 1 cup

1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
1 tablespoon urad dal
2-3 dried red chillies
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon tamarind paste or concentrate
Scant quantity of water
Salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste
1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves

1. In a wide pan, warm up the oil over medium to high heat. Once it is warm, saute the urad dal and the dried red chilies.

2. Once the urad dal begin to turn golden and give off a nice smell, add the onion. Saute until translucent.

3. Add the bell pepper and a bit of additional oil if needed. Stir constantly until cooked well. Add the tomato and saute until the tomato is softened.

4. Remove the mixture from the pan and allow to cool to room temperature.

5. Place in a food processor with tamarind paste/concentrate and a scant quantity of water. Mix well using the processor.

6. Pour into a bowl and season with salt and sugar, to taste. Set aside in a bowl.

7. In the same pan used for making the chutney, temper the mustard oil and curry leaves (adding a little additional oil if needed). Once they start to pop and splatter, remove from heat and mix into the chutney.


  1. Ooh I love my chutneys and sauces! Though I am intrigued by peanut chutney which I've never had.

  2. I am so glad you made idlis and chutney finally! Only now you are a real South Indian! Hope your idlis came out ok. Green chillies can be substituted for red chillies, if you want. I add some cilantro leaves too while grinding the onions, red bell pepper etc. For a change, you can try that combination-Mom

  3. This must be amazing, great ingredients, I must try! The only ingredient I am not familiar with is the urad dal? Probably means a trip to the International grocery store in San Diego, which coincidentally, is one of my most favorite things to do!