Coconut ‘sammanthi’



Sammanthi or chammanthi – this was a debate that was always going on in my head, but till now it hasn’t surfaced to the open.

Coconut sammanthi (thenga sammanthi ) is how we call it in our house, but I strongly believe the real word is chammanthi. All I can say with 100% surety is that this dish is perfect with idlis and dosas.

I was determined to participate in JFI coconut hosted by Ashwini. I felt like I would let myself down if I didn’t participate in it as coconut is something I absolutely can’t imagine living without. For us Mallus, it is a taste you just can’t resist. Anyone who did their schooling in Kerala must have dealt with this question in school:

Write a short essay on coconut

You start writing….Coconut tree is a kalpavriksham ( a malayalam word indicating that all parts of the plant can be used). And then you go on to describe eloquently all the different uses of coconut that you crammed the night before.

This essay writing, for strange reasons, had left me with the notion that coconut was available only in Kerala. When I found out later that it wasn’t the case, I tried to comfort myself thinking that Kerala coconut was the best. It is:)

Anyways, here is a breakfast known to every mallu- idli with cha(sa)mmanthi.

The sammanthi routine in our home always went like this- do you want red or green sammanthi?
Green meant mother would use green chilis and if the answer was red, she would get dried red chilis. They taste different, but as kids our decisions were based on which color we thought was more cool at the moment.

Recipe for chammanthi

Coconut – 2 cups

Dried red chillies – 6 0r 8 . Roast them over flame. They will develop black spots all over. Sometimes they catch fire while you do this, but just snuff the fire and use the chilis.

Shallots- 2

In a blender, grate till very smooth the coconut, shallots and chilis. Add water in small amounts, just enough to make a thick paste.

For tempering

In a pan, add some coconut oil. Add mustard seeds. While they splutter, add curry leaves and thinly sliced shallots (1 shallot). Fry till dark in color. Lower the fire, and add the coconut mixture. Mix water ( usually we pour the water into the blender and give a nice whirl to get all the coconut remaining in the blender), and add salt.

Do not let it boil. Just warm. If you boil, the sammanthi will look curdled.

Traditionally, the chilis are roasted by adding them to the wood burning stove. And then all the ingredients are ground to a smooth paste in an arakallu ( a grinding stone).

Kid favorite: Add some sugar when you eat the idlis with sammanthi. Use fingers to mix everything. Tastes divine!!!

For idlis I used Priya’s recipe. Great results even in winter. Thanks Priya.

chammanthi2.jpg chammanthi1.jpg

Idli with red sammanthi Dosa with green sammanthi

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14 responses »

  1. Very unusual coconut chutney.Thank you for giving us such an authentic dish! Love it and I will try.
    Happy Holidays.

    This is the usual in my part of Kerala. Happy holidays to you. Are you resting for the holidays or cooking till you drop?

  2. look like there is a trick or two to make this chutney perfect. Really enjoy reading your write-up, and the consistency and everything looks absolutely gorgeous!

    Thanks Gattina. Happy holidays to you. Having a good blender is absolutely essential for a good sammanthi. These are some other coconut chutneys that will do with a coarse grind, but this needs a very smooth texture.

  3. Beautiful entry Gini! This is a must try dish. I couldn’t agree more with you about the coconut tree.

    Thanks Arjuna. Better than your coconut burfi? Just kidding:)

  4. Lovely Ginisha!!!! I just love coconut chutney and so does everyone at home 🙂 The recipe sounds great!!!!!

    Thanks Rooma. Do you make it the same way too? Happy holidays!!

  5. wow thats a nice chammanthi write up…seeing your dish I am craving for some chammanthi favorite is always with rice:) 🙂 if I think about Kerala, the first thing strikes on my mind is “coconut trees” well God’s own country is flourished with coconut trees:) Happy holidays 🙂

    Happy holidays to you too, Priya!! ‘Chammanthi with rice’- I just had that today. What a perfect combination, isn’t it? There was a girl in my class who made chammanthi sandwiches. Ever heard of that?

  6. Hi Gini

    Idli / samanthi is my fav dish (breakfast)
    Your red and green samanthi looks so yummy.
    I am just craving for that fresh coconut samanthi now. Hopefully I will prepare this weekend for sure according to your receipe(tempering).

    Thanks in advance

    Venu, so you call it sammanthi too. There is something about sammanthi that will make you so homesick. Hopefully it will come out right for you. If not please don’t blame for the lost nostalgia:)

  7. I’m new to idli but the entire dish looks like “Kueh Tutu” made from rice flour, coconut, gula melaka…..

    Hi tigerfish, I lookded up Kueh Tutu in google images, and yeah they do look similar. But they have a nice pattern on their surface. Is this dish steamed too? I am learning so much from your blog.

  8. hahaha, I couldn’t help laughing over your childhood notion of coconuts being just native to Kerala 🙂
    You’re just so cute!

    I know. We Mallu kids are made to think Malayalees have the best brains, best hair etc all because of the coconut oil. The minute you step out of Kerala, you realize none of the above are true!!!

  9. Lovely !! My dad loves tempering for chammanthi with shallots, mom adds garlic sometimes.

    The first thing that came to my mind when Coconut was chosen for Jihva, was all the delicious Kerala dishes – Theeyal, Thoran, Erisseri, Aviyal and olan .. MMM YUMMM..

    I know. There are so many dishes and I am so confused. Hopefully I can add one more entry to the event. Waiting for your other entries. I don’t think we add dal while tempering. That seems to be common in all other South Indian states

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  11. Haha.. I came across this site today!! I used to have the same dilemma.. we call it Samanthi at home and my friends in colleges say it’s `chammanthi‘.. but still, I always prefer sammanthi. It is something reminding the old good childhood days at home. And you know what, my mom still asks if u want ` vella (white) sammanthi‘ or `chuvanna (red) sammanthi ‘?.. haha and the preparation is same as well..

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