Nutritious and delicious Capsicum chutney is a vibrant dip or spread made primarily from red capsicum, also known as red bell peppers. This easy vegan recipe also includes desiccated coconut, lentils, and fragrant herbs and spices. Follow my step-by-step instructions with photos to blend a batch of sweet and savory bell pepper chutney to enjoy with your favorite dishes!
About This Recipe
Traditional South Indian chutneys are thick and creamy dips made with coconut or fresh veggies. They typically are served with main meals and snacks, including breakfast dishes or simple plain steamed rice.
This capsicum chutney recipe is great for making a fresh and tasty dip that compliments everything from akki roti to idli fry and rava dosa. Tangy red peppers are sauteed and blended with lentils and dried coconut. Then combined with a tempering of mustard seed and curry leaves for a chutney layered with intense flavors.
You can make the chutney with green or yellow bell peppers if you prefer or only have these available. The taste will be a bit different, but you’ll still create a rich, bright condiment that is delicious with any number of mains or side dishes.
How to make capsicum chutney
Frying lentils and sautéing capsicum
1. The first step is to sautee the lentils. For this recipe I use two different split and husked lentils, urad dal (split and husked black gram) and chana dal (split and husked bengal gram).
Set a large, deep skillet or frying pan over low heat on the stovetop. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil (gingelly oil made from raw sesame seeds) or your preferred oil to the pan.
Once hot, add 1 teaspoon of the urad dal and 1 teaspoon of chana dal. You can use just one or the other type of lentil, if that’s what you have available or prefer.
2. Fry the lentils over the low heat until lightly browned. Continuously stir and be careful that they do not burn.
3. Then add 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds.
4. Mix and fry for some seconds or until the sesame seeds start to crackle.
5. Next, add 1 dried red chili, 6 to 7 curry leaves and 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing).
To make a gluten version, either the source the gluten-free asafoetida or skip adding it.
6. Mix very well.
7. Next add 1.5 cups of chopped and seeded red capsicum (bell pepper).
8. Mix well again.
9. Taste, and add salt as needed.
10. Mix again and continue to saute the capsicum mixture over low heat.
11. Cook for 6 or 7 minutes, until the bell peppers soften.
12. Then add ¼ cup desiccated (shredded and dried) coconut and ½ teaspoon of dried tamarind. You can also add fresh coconut instead of desiccated coconut. You can swap ½ teaspoon of tamarind pulp with dried tamarind.
13. Mix very well and turn off the stovetop heat.
14. Let the mixture become cool a bit at room temperature. Then add it to a spice grinder jar, food processor or blender, along with ⅓ cup of water.
15. Grind or blend until creamy and smooth. You might need to work in batches to blend the full batch.
16. If the chutney seems a bit too thick, feel free to add a splash of water and blend again. But be careful to not add too much water – you want the capsicum chutney to be more like a dip than a sauce.
Transfer the chutney to a bowl, using a spatula to scrape the sides of the grinder or blender jar.
17. A tempered oil is a terrific way to add deep flavor to dishes. For this recipe, first heat 2 teaspoons of sesame oil (gingelly oil made from raw sesame seeds) or your preferred cooking oil in the same pan used to fry the lentils and peppers. Once hot add ½ a teaspoon of mustard seeds.
18. Fry until the mustard seeds start to crackle. Then add 4 to 5 fresh curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida (optional). Combine, stir and switch off the heat.
19. Pour the tempering mixture together with the oil into the chutney, and mix well.
20. Serve capsicum chutney fresh with South Indian snacks like Idli, Dosa, Adai, Medu Vada, Uttapam, or Punugulu. You can also serve it with akki roti, as a side with steamed rice, or with your favorite savory dishes.
This recipe as-is gives you a chutney that is on the sweeter side. Increase the number of red chilies to 2 or 3 for a spicier chutney.
A bit of sugar or jaggery can be added to make a sweeter chutney. Add 1 teaspoon or to taste as you sautee the bell pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon of roasted peanuts before tempering for an even earthier chutney taste.
Leftover chutney can be refrigerated in a sealed container, and will keep well for 1 to 2 days.
Other healthy chutneys you might like:
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- 1 tablespoon sesame oil (gingelly oil)
- 1 teaspoon urad dal (split and husked black gram)
- 1 teaspoon chana dal (split and husked bengal gram)
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 dry red chili
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- 6 to 7 curry leaves
- 175 grams red bell pepper or 1.5 cups chopped red capsicum
- ¼ cup desiccated coconut
- ½ teaspoon tamarind
- ⅓ cup water or add as required
- salt as required
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil (gingelly oil)
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 4 to 5 curry leaves
- 1 pinch asafoetida (optional)
Frying lentils and sesame seeds
- Heat a pan and keep the flame to a low. Add sesame oil. When the oil becomes hot, add urad dal (split and husked black gram) and chana dal (split and husked bengal gram).
- On a low flame stirring often fry both the lentils, till they turn golden. Make sure not to burn them.
- Then add sesame seeds.
- Mix and fry till the sesame seeds start crackling.
- Then add the red chili, curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida (hing). Mix very well. This is not a spicy chutney and the taste is on sweeter side. However if you want to make it spicy you then you can increase the number of red chillies now.
- Next add chopped red capsicum (shimla mirch). Mix well.
- Add salt as required. Mix again and saute capsicum on a low flame.
- Saute capsicum till they soften for about 6 to 7 minutes on a low flame.
- Then add desiccated coconut and dried tamarind. You can also add fresh coconut instead of desiccated coconut. A bit of sugar or jaggery can also be added. You can also add roasted peanuts to make it more healthy and filling.
- Mix very well and switch off the flame.
- Let the mixture become warm or cool down at room temperature. Then add it in a blender or food processor or grinder jar along with water.
- Blend till smooth.
- Remove the chutney in a bowl. Scrape of the sides and bottom of the blender or grinder jar and add the remaining chutney in the same bowl.
- If you want, you can even add some water and then swirl the jar. This way the chutney at the bottom and sides of the jar gets mixed with the water. But do note that not to add too much water as then the chutney will become thin.
Tempering capsicum chutney
- Heat sesame oil in the same pan and add mustard seeds.
- Once the mustard seeds crackle, add curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida (optional). Mix and stir.
- Pour all of the tempering in the chutney. Mix well.
- Serve capsicum chutney with idli, dosa, adai or vada or steamed rice. You can also serve it with akki roti. Leftover chutney can be refrigerated and it stays good for 1 to 2 days.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This capsicum chutney recipe post from the archives (April 2017) has been republished and updated on 2 June 2021.