There are many variations of green chutney as there are Indian households. This is my version of a Parsi (part Persian, part Indian) rendition from one of my favorite cookbooks, My Bombay Kitchen by Niloufer Inchaporia King. The coconut adds a slight richness that softens the bracing qualities of the herbs.
Green chutneys made with cilantro and mint lose their color within hours but this one, because it contains coconut, retains its verdant color for days. It tastes too good to keep around for that long, however. Grate your own coconut (use a hairy brown one), or purchase frozen grated coconut from Indian and Southeast Asian markets. This is a great accompaniment to Southern Indian fare such as kuzhi paniyaram rice and lentil dumplings.
Makes 1 generous cup
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 green Thai or 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup grated fresh or thawed, frozen coconut
1 cup lightly packed coarsely chopped cilantro, leaves and stems
12 to 14 fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
Generous 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, pounded with a mortar and pestle
About 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
About 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
1. Put the garlic, chiles and salt in a mini food processor and process to a fine texture.
2. Add the coconut, cilantro, mint, cumin, lime juice and water. Process to a thick, fine texture, pausing as needed to scrape down the sides. Aim for a texture that can stand up on a plate. Taste and add sugar if the flavor is too tart. Adjust the flavors as needed for tart, hot, salty, herby finish. Transfer to a jar or plastic container and set aside for a few hours for the flavors to blend. This chutney tastes better the next day to me, and it will keep for a week.