big onion

Onion chutney

Onions come in so many sizes,colours and shapes…they can be crunchy,spicy,sweet,intense or mellow depending on how they are prepared or what variety you choose.This vegetable lends itself quite easily to all cooking techniques and adds a unique flavour to most cuisines from all parts of the world ! There are onion fans who can eat them in any form and there are people who tolerate them and of course the ones who wonder why such a veggie exists…I actually feel sorry that the onion haters miss out on the amazing flavours these add to a dish :)
Pickled,fried,pureed,sauteed,roasted or eaten raw,it can be as delicate or as robust as you want it to be ! The kind of acrid burn that a raw onion imparts is so very different from the almost sweet jammy flavour they give when cooked in a pan with a little oil and salt ! They also pair very well with all sorts of herbs coriander,thyme,rosemary,curry leaves etc…onion pachadi is a favourite accompaniment to a biryani in Southern India…an acquired taste for many visitors from other parts !

pearl onions
An onion chutney on the other hand is almost like a sweet and spicy onion marmalade…made with pearl onions (shallots) and red (Spanish)onions,they make a great side dish for an Indian breakfast of dosai or idli (Indian rice cakes/pancakes)…they keep well refrigerated for about a week…it’s very good with bread as well,I’m told…so it’s definitely something for children in boarding school or university to keep in storage ! I was told by my grand mum that back in her youth,this chutney was made entirely with the tiny pearl onions for a family of 10 or more…my goodness,the number of onions they would’ve needed to peel to get a sizable amount of chutney….!!!! I do think the large onions don’t really diminish the flavour of the chutney in any way…it is made with a whole lot of love after all…and since it is cooked down until soft and golden,it can be eaten for breakfast and you don’t have to worry about it being too strong for the palette in the morning…just toss in a mint after,if you must 😉

Onion chutney

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  • 1. In a pan ,heat some oil (just about 1 tbsp) ,add the small onions ,saute,when soft,add the Onions and saute,add salt.
  • 2. Add the dried red chillies and continue to saute on very low heat until soft and golden and sticky.
  • 3. The onions are caramelised at this stage...careful that they don't get crisp.
  • 4. Add the tamarind pulp and mix through well for a minute or so.
  • 5. Set aside and let it cool.
  • 6. Once it is cool,check seasoning and grind it either by hand or in a blender...there is no need to add water...that will shorten the shelf life of the chutney.
  • 7. Grind it to a smooth paste and check seasoning...the colour comes from sweating the onions to a golden brown .
  • 8. Some people do temper it with curry leaves and urad dhal and red chillies,but I prefer it as it is...why add the extra oil unnecessarily !!! Enjoy :)

About Chef

Shanthini Rajkumar