Sesame chutney (til chutney in Urdu) is one of many Indian chutneys that we make regularly at home. First, sesame seeds are ground into a fine powder. Then, freshly grated coconut, spices and water are added to create a thick paste. The coconut is what gives the sauce a rich mouth-feel. The condiment can be served with rice dishes, idlis or dosas (enormous, thin, crisp, Indian-style crêpes).
Dosas are my husband Lulu’s favorite Indian food, and the reason I haven't posted a dosa recipe yet is that I haven’t been able to successfully make them on my own. Pali appa (Lulu's aunt), who lives in Oakland, comes to visit us from time to time and makes the best dosas from scratch. She taught us how to grind urad dal and rice and let the mixture ferment. On the several occasions when we've made the recipe with her, the dosas were wonderfully delicious. However, on my own, I've failed miserably so far. Will post a detailed recipe once I succeed. Stay tuned!
Servings: 1 cup
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons fresh coconut, freshly grated
4 dried red chiles, stemmed
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon urad lentils (see tips)
1 fresh curry leaf, halved
1 teaspoon jaggery (palm sugar), shredded
Dry toasting the shredded coconut and sesame seeds:
To enhance the flavors, dry toast the sesame seeds and coconut separately in a small pan over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes before the ingredients start changing color. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool completely.
Making sesame paste:
Grind the sesame seeds in a blender or a grinder (I use a coffee grinder that I keep exclusively for spices). The sesame seeds should turn into a fine mill, but make sure you stop before it becomes nut butter.
In a mini-blender (you could use a mortar and pestle), combine the shredded coconut, sesame paste, ground cumin, ground coriander, tamarind concentrate and jaggery. Add ¼ to ½ cup water for a smoother flow (Depending on how thick you like the consistency of the chutney, you can add more water.) Season with salt.
In a small saucepan, heat the canola oil. Add the urad dal and curry leaf. Cook until very golden brown. Turn off the heat. Add the red chiles and pour the hot mixture over the contents from the blender. Stir well. Let cool completely to room temperature. Remove and discard the curry leaf.
If you like, you could add more red chiles at the end for a bright red color contrast.
Serve at room temperature with khichdi, which is basmati rice with masoor dal (coral lentils).
You can find tamarind concentrate in any Asian store. It has a nice tart flavor.
You can find the rest of the ingredients in most Indian stores.
Urad dal can be found in any Indian store.
Shredded coconut gives a rich, creamy texture to the chutney. I used fresh coconut. First, I opened the coconut using a cleaver. Be very careful if you do. (I usually lay out some newspaper underneath a large wooden cutting board) Then, scrape out the coconut flesh using a coconut grater.