Onion Chutney is a South Indian side dish made with onions, spices and herbs. It is a quick, delicious and hot side that goes well with most Indian Breakfasts & Snacks. This onion chutney tastes hot and sour with hints of sweetness. So it can be served with many different foods. Try it out with Idli, Dosa, Pesarattu, Parathas, Sandwiches, Pakora & Cutlets. You can also smear this over your rotis or tortillas to make your rolls & wraps.
About Onion Chutney
Onion Chutney is a Indian chutney variety made with onions as the main ingredient. Various spices like dried red chilies, ginger, garlic, cumin seeds are used to add flavor and heat. Herbs like curry leaves and coriander leaves are used to add some freshness to the onion chutney.
Depending on the region ingredients like lentils or peanuts are also added to impart a nutty aroma.
Spicy Onion chutney is an everyday food made in many South Indian homes and restaurants. It is usually served as a side with soft Idli, Crispy Dosa, fluffy Uttapam and also with snacks like Bonda etc.
There are 2 ways a onion chutney is made. One of them uses raw onions and the other one is with Sautéed onions. The raw onion chutney is a hit or a miss So I always prefer this sauteed onion chutney.
Onion is one of the ingredients we add to many different kinds of chutneys as it imparts a sweet aroma without making your chutney taste sweet. It also wonderfully balances the tang and heat from ingredients like tomatoes, red chilies, ginger and garlic.
But this recipe uses onions itself as the main ingredient and the rest of the ingredients help to balance the sweet and pungent flavor of the onions. The key step in this recipe is to saute/ fry the onions well until they loose the raw flavor and just begin to caramelize or turn golden.
This Chutney is also a great alternate to those tomato and coconut based chutneys when you run out of tomatoes or coconut.
Onion chutney is best when made with shallots but in this post I have used regular onions. Peeling the shallots does take some time so I have used regular onions. Here are some of the variations I make to this chutney
- This chutney recipe is like a base, you can make many varieties out of this. Just choose any single veggie like carrot, beetroot, brinjal, ridge gourd, broccoli or even tomato. You can set aside the fried onion mixture. Then add the veggie of your choice and saute well until soft. Blend together. You can check a similar recipe here – Broccoli chutney.
- You can also add some coriander leaves or mint leaves to the pan after the onions are fried. Saute well for few mins.
- In this recipe I have used some peanuts, chana dal & urad dal. You can skip the peanuts and make just with dal. Alternately skip the dal and just use more of peanuts.
How to Make Onion Chutney (Stepwise Photos)
1. Wash and peel 2 medium onions. Chop or cube them to 1 inch pieces. Or You can also use 1 cup shallots.
2. Soak 1 teaspoon tamarind and 1 teaspoon jaggery in half cup water. Often tamarind has impurities, so I just rinse it once and soak in water. You can also use it directly, if you do not prefer to soak.
3. Heat 1½ to 2 tablespoons oil in a pan. Do not reduce oil otherwise onions will not fry well. Add the following ingredients to the hot oil:
- ¾ tablespoon chana dal
- ¾ tablespoon urad dal
- 2 tablespoons peanuts
- 3 to 4 dried red chilies
4. Fry them on a medium heat until lightly golden & aromatic. Add 2 garlic cloves.
5. Next add onions. Fry for 3 to 4 mins on a medium flame.
6. Then add curry leaves and ½ teaspoon cumin seeds. You can also skip curry leaves. I prefer to add as they are healthy. Fry until the onions wilt completely and turn soft. They should have a nice roasted flavor and not raw.
Grind Onion Chutney
7. Cool these completely and add them to the jar.
8. Squeeze the soaked tamarind with your fingers. Pour it to the jar. I prefer to pass it through the filter.
9. I forgot to add the salt in the earlier step, so I added it here.
10. Taste test and add more salt & tamarind. You can add more water to the soaked tamarind, and pour it to the chutney. Pour more water if needed and blend again to bring it to the consistency you desire.
Temper the Chutney
11. Tempering is optional and can be skipped. Heat the same pan with ½ tablespoon oil. When the oil is hot, add
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon urad dal
- 1 broken dried red chili. When the dal turns light golden, add curry leaves and 1 pinch hing. Turn off the stove.
12. Pour this to the chutney. I usually pour the chutney to the pan and mix. Serve onion chutney with idli, dosa and snacks. You can store this in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
Onion Chutney Recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup onions cubed (2 medium) (or shallots)
- 1½ to 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons peanuts
- ¾ tablespoon bengal gram chana dal (optional)
- ¾ tablespoon skinned black gram (urad dal) (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 to 4 dried red chilies (less spicy variety or 1 tsp chilli powder)
- 1 sprig curry leaves (optional)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 teaspoon tamarind ( or lemon juice as needed)
- 1 teaspoon jaggery or sugar (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt ( or as needed)
- ½ cup water
- ½ tablespoons oil
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon urad dal (optional)
- ½ dried red chili (broken)
- 10 curry leaves
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- This step is optional but I prefer to soak my jaggery and tamarind in water. Filter and use as most times both of these have some debris. However you may add them directly. Soak 1 teaspoon tamarind and 1 teaspoon jaggery in half cup water. Set this aside.
How to Make Onion Chutney
- Pour 1½ tbsp oil to a pan and heat it. Add ¾ tablespoon chana dal, ¾ tablespoon urad dal, 2 tablespoons peanuts and 3 to 4 dried red chilies.
- Fry until them stirring often until lightly golden & aromatic.
- Add 2 garlic and 1 cup cubed onions. Fry them for 3 to 4 mins until the onions are half done.
- Next add jeera and curry leaves. Saute until the onions are light golden or turn soft. Cool completely.
- Next add these to a blender jar along with ½ teaspoon salt. Squeeze soaked tamarind in the water.
- Filter it through a small sieve or tea strainer. Blend all of these until smooth adding more water as needed.
- Taste test and add more salt. If needed pour more water to the soaked tamarind & filter it back to the jar. Transfer the onion chutney to a serving bowl.
- Pour ½ tbsp oil to the pan & heat it on a medium flame. When the oil turns hot, add ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds, ¼ teaspoon urad dal and ½ dried red chili.
- Fry till the dal turns light golden, then add curry leaves and hing.
- Pour this to the chutney. Serve onion chutney with breakfast or snacks.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Onion Chutney Recipe first published in February 2018. Updated & republished in March 2022.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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