Onion Chutney Recipe

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This onion chutney recipe is a great alternative to coconut chutney when you do not have coconut to make it. Make this onion chutney recipe in 20 minutes and serve with South Indian snacks like Rava Idli, Masala Dosa or Uttapam.

onion chutney in a green bowl with dosa stacked on a white plate on a dark green board

Why This Recipe Works

Firstly let me tell you that this is a South Indian recipe of onion chutney. It is also known as vengaya chutney as onions are called vengaya in Tamil language.

This chutney has complex flavors that taste so good. The tamarind adds a slight tart flavor while the red chilies add a smoky flavor to the dish. Garlic makes this chutney slightly pungent, the lightly browned onions add sweetness, while the lentils give a delicious earthy flavor.

This dish is bursting with flavors and goes very well with tiffin snacks such as rava idli, masala dosa, or uttapam. On this occasion, I served onion chutney with Poha Dosa.

The color of the chutney will vary depending on the type of red chilies used. I prefer to add Kashmiri red chilies as they are low in heat and have a beautiful color. You can also use another Indian variety of mild chillies known as byadagi red chilies.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make Onion Chutney

Fry Lentils and Red Chillies

1. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a pan. Lower the heat and add 1 teaspoon of chana dal (husked and split bengal gram). Then add ½ teaspoon of urad dal (split and husked black gram).

TIP: You can use sunflower oil, peanut oil or gingelly oil (oil made from raw sesame seeds) or any neutral oil.

oil, chana dal (bengal gram) and urad dal (split and husked black gram) in a pan

2. Fry stirring often until the lentils turn golden. Do not burn them.

golden sauteed lentils or dal in a pan to make onion chutney recipe

3. Then add 2 to 3 Kashmiri red chilies (broken or halved and seeds removed). Stir and fry for some seconds till you see the chilies change color and become aromatic.

Fry on a low heat, so that the chilies do not get burnt. Kashmiri red chilies give a nice color and are not too spicy.

You can also use byadagi red chilies. If you are using medium hot or very hot red chilies then add less.

kashmiri red chilies in the pan

Sauté Onions

4. Add 1 cup of chopped onions and ¼ to ½ chopped garlic (1 to 2 small or medium garlic cloves). You can also use pearl onions or shallots instead of regular onions.

Red onions, white onions or yellow onions, all work well in the recipe.

chopped onions and garlic with kashmiri red chilies and lentils in a pan

5. Sauté onions on a low to medium heat and stir continuously.

sautéed onions for onion chutney recipe

6. Sauté until the onions turn light golden. Then switch off the heat and let the onions cool at room temperature.

light browned sautéed onions for onion chutney recipe

Blend Sautéed Ingredients

7. Next transfer the entire onion mixture into a mixer-grinder or a small blender. Add ¼ teaspoon of dried tamarind and salt to taste.

If you do not have this dried tamarind that we easily get in India, add ⅛ teaspoon of bottled or packaged tamarind sauce or as needed.

onion mixture for onion chutney in a grinder with tamarind and salt to taste

8. Add ¼ cup of water and grind ingredients into a smooth paste. Set aside for later.

Onion mixture ground into a smooth paste

Temper Spices

9. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil on a low heat in the same pan. Then, add ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds and cook them until they start to crackle.

oil and mustard seeds in a pan

10. Once the mustard seeds crackle, add a pinch of asafoetida (hing) and 5 to 6 curry leaves.

oil, mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves in a pan

11. Fry for a few seconds until the curry leaves become crisp.

Saute mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves in a pan

Make Onion Chutney

12. Keep the heat to a low and add the ground chutney.

Sauteed mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves with ground onion chutney in a pan

13. Mix the chutney with the tempering ingredients.

a mixture of chutney and tempering ingredients in a pan

14. Add ¼ to ⅓ cup of water. I poured water to the blender jar, swirled it around and added the water into the pan.

This ensures that leftover chutney sticking on the walls of the the jar does not go to waste. You can alter the consistency of the onion chutney by adding less or more water.

ground chutney, tempering ingredients and water in a pan

15. Mix very well and then switch off the heat.

onion chutney in the pan

Serving Suggestions

Serve this tasty onion chutney with snacks like Idli, Dosa, Rava Dosa or Medu Vada. You can also eat it as a dip with various pakoda varieties like Onion Pakoda, Potato Pakora or Paneer Pakoda.

I also like to have it with toasted bread. I slather some onion chutney on the bread and enjoy it.

Storage and Leftovers

Store any leftovers in a covered container for 1 to 2 days. I would not suggest to make ahead a large batch of this onion chutney. Simply make the quantity you need.

onion chutney in a green bowl with dosa stacked on a white plate on a dark green board
Tips

Expert Tips

  • Onions: This chutney can be made with different types of onions like red, white, yellow onions including shallots and pearl onions. However, scallions (spring onions) cannot be used for this recipe. 
  • Consistency: You can alter the consistency of the chutney to suit your taste. For a thick chutney add less water and for a medium-thin chutney add more water. Be careful not to add too much water because the chutney will become thin and the flavors will become diluted.
  • Spiciness: The heat and pungency of the chutney can be reduced by using fewer red chilies or chilies that are less to medium-hot. If spicy pungent chilies are used, the chutney becomes hot and spicy. As you see in the recipe, I have used kashmiri red chilies that are not spicy and give the chutney a lovely orange color. 
  • Sourness: The sour element in the chutney comes from tamarind. If you don’t have tamarind on hand then you can use lemon juice instead. It will taste slightly different though.
  • Scaling: Easily make a large batch of this onion chutney recipe if serving for pot-lucks or small get-togethers.

FAQs

Which mixie do you use?

I use the Preethi mixer grinder blue leaf model. It does a great work of grinding chutneys as well as making batter for idli, dosa, and medu vada.

What can I use onion chutney for?

Onion chutney can be served as a dipping sauce with snacks like rava idli, masala dosa, or uttapam.

Can I add peanuts in the onion chutney?

Yes of course. Use roasted peanuts (unsalted) or roast them separately in a separate pan. When the onions are light golden, add them and sauté for a minute. Later grind or blend everything in a blender.

More Tasty Chutney Recipes!

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onion chutney in a light green bowl on a dark green board

Onion Chutney Recipe

4.88 from 25 votes
This onion chutney recipe is a great alternative to coconut chutney when you do not have coconut to make it. Make this onion chutney recipe in a jiffy and serve with tiffin snacks like rava idli, masala dosa or uttapam.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins

Cuisine South Indian
Course: Side Dish
Diet: Vegan
Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 2
Units

Ingredients

Main ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped onions – 120 grams or 1 large
  • ¼ to ½ chopped garlic or 1 to 2 small to medium garlic cloves
  • 2 to 3 kashmiri red chilies
  • 2 teaspoons oil (can use sesame oil or sunflower oil or peanut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal (husked and split bengal gram)
  • ½ teaspoon urad dal (split and husked black gram)
  • ¼ teaspoon tamarind or a small piece of tamarind
  • salt as required
  • ¼ cup water or as needed, for blending/grinding
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup water or as needed, to be added later

For tempering

  • 2 teaspoons oil (can use sesame oil or sunflower oil or peanut oil)
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) – optional
  • 5 to 6 curry leaves

Instructions

Frying lentils and red chillies

  • Heat oil in a pan. Lower the heat and add chana dal and urad dal.
  • Fry stirring regularly until the lentils turn golden. Take care that you do not burn them.
  • Then add the kashmiri red chilies. Fry for some seconds until you see the chilies change color and become aromatic.
  • Fry on a low heat, so that the chilies do not get burnt. Kashmiri red chilies give a nice color and also do not make the chutney spicy.

Sauteing onions

  • Then add the chopped onions and chopped garlic.
  • Mix the onions and begin to saute on a low to medium heat. Keep on stirring onions while sauteing them.
  • Saute until the onions turn a light golden. Switch off the heat and let the onions become warm or cool at room temperature.
  • Transfer the entire onion mixture in a small blender or mixer-grinder. Add tamarind and salt as per taste.
  • Add water and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Tempering Spices

  • Heat in the same pan or a tadka pan. Keep the heat to a low. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle.
  • Once the mustard seeds crackle, add a pinch of asafoetida (hing) and curry leaves.
  • Fry for a few seconds until the curry leaves become crisp.

Making Onion Chutney

  • Keep the heat to a low or sim and now add the ground onion chutney.
  • Mix the chutney thoroughly with the tempered ingredients.
  • Add water. You can make this chutney slightly thick or of medium consistency by adding less or more water.
  • Mix very well and then switch off the heat.
  • Serve onion chutney with dosa, idli or uttapam.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve this tasty onion chutney with snacks like idli, dosa, rava dosa or uttapam. You can also eat it as a dip with various pakoda varieties like onion pakoda, potato pakora or paneer pakoda.
  • I also like to have it with toasted bread. I spread some onion chutney on the bread and enjoy it.

Storage and Leftovers

  • Store any leftovers in a covered container for 1 to 2 days. I would not suggest to make ahead a large batch of this onion chutney. Simply make the quantity you need.

Video

Notes

  • Onions: This chutney can be made with different types of onions like red, white, yellow onions including shallots and pearl onions. However, scallions cannot be used for this recipe.
  • Consistency: You can alter the consistency of the chutney to suit your taste. For a thick chutney add less water and for a medium-thin chutney add more water. Be careful not to add too much water because the chutney will become thin and the flavors will become diluted.
  • Spiciness: The heat and pungency of the chutney can be reduced by using fewer red chilies or chilies that have a low to medium heat quotient. If spicy pungent chilies are used, the chutney becomes hot and spicy. As you see in the recipe, I have used kashmiri red chilies that are not hot and give the chutney a lovely orange color.
  • Sourness: The sour element in the chutney comes from tamarind. If you don’t have tamarind on hand then you can use lemon juice instead. The chutney will taste slightly different though.   
  • Nuts: You could add some roasted unsalted peanuts. When the onions become light golden, add the roasted peanuts and sauté for a minute. Later when the ingredients cool, blend with some water to a smooth consistency. 
  • Scaling: Easily make a large batch of this onion chutney recipe if serving for pot-lucks or small get-togethers.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Onion Chutney Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 117 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 588mg26%
Potassium 109mg3%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 230IU5%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 29mg145%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 55mg67%
Vitamin E 3mg20%
Vitamin K 1µg1%
Calcium 39mg4%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 306µg77%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 11mg3%
Phosphorus 27mg3%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This onion chutney recipe post from the blog archives (July 2016) has been republished and updated on 20 April 2021.

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Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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36 Comments

  1. I like the way you describe every step. It helps people like me who get a load of doubts;) . All your recepies which I have tried turn out yum. Thanks!!5 stars

    1. thanks a lot ramya. glad to read your feedback. most welcome and happy cooking.

  2. Thank you very much for sharing your recipes . Tried the onion chutney and it turned very tasty . ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hello mam I am a very big fan of ur cooking. U make cooking so easy. I am following many of your recepies. I would like to request continue your andriod app which was a available previous. That becomes very easy to refer any recepie. Since the app has been removed I am facing a lot issues.

    1. thanks shraddha. whenever we get a good app software, we will launch the app. i know using app was easier as i myself used to use it.

  4. Hi, thank you so much for helping me .i have tried so many recipe,and its really good .i like this site thanks again for helping us5 stars

    1. Welcome Chandana. Nice to know that recipes posted on blog have came out well.

  5. Hi!
    Thank you so much for helping me out everytime I need to prepare something.
    I will be trying this chutney tomorrow.
    Could you please tell me which mixie you use, mine is no good ๐Ÿ™
    Thank you in advance.:)5 stars

    1. welcome. i use preethi mixer grinder blue leaf model which has four jars. it does an excellent job of grinding chutneys as well as making idli, dosa and medu vada batters.

  6. Not just this recipe, I follow your desert n many more recipes, and they turn out great/good , thank you????5 stars

  7. Your recipes are fabulous! We just had a great dinner – thanks to you!
    I’m a huge fan of your fantastic work. Thanks again.

    1. lemon juice will give a different taste than tamarind. if using lemon juice, then add just a few drops of it without making the chutney too tangy.

  8. Hi Dassana,

    i was looking for this kind of recipe and it looks delicious like all your recipes. Thanks for sharing. I will surely try this ๐Ÿ™‚5 stars

  9. nice and easy to understand all your recipes would also request if you could include some health recipes as well

    1. there are quite a number of healthy recipes on the blog. if you are looking for any recipe, then you can easily search with the search button on the top.