In Tamil Nadu, pottu kadalai or roasted brown chickpea lentils are ground with grated coconuts to a fine paste to make a melt-in-the-mouth chutney. It is served with pongal, idli, vada and with all sorts of dosas. A breakfast dish without chutney and sambar is considered incomplete. In Kerala and Karnataka however, delicious chutney is usually made with coconuts as both Kerala as well as coastal Karnataka are blessed with groves upon groves of coconut trees. The addition of roasted chickpea lentils, however, gives not just added protein, but a body, a thick, smooth consistency to the chutney.
Keralites generally use pottu kadala to deep-fry and add to “mixture”, a spicy, crunchy snack. Whenever I make pongal, I make it a point to prepare some roasted chickpea coconut chutney as well, since the cool mild chutney perfectly complements the hot spicy pongal. All the more so, when you bite on the peppercorns and the cumin seeds, which burst to release their pleasant pungency on your palate. Here is the recipe.