Coconut and Garlic Chutney from Tanzania

Well his recipe is tsort of not FROM Tanzania because this was served in an Indian restaurant IN Tanzania. I was driving through a town called Moshi which is just beneath the feet of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro (highest peak in Africa) and we stopped for a bite. The restaurant we stopped at was called Taj Mahal (how original!) and was a "fast food" place (with emphasise on fast), so much so that 1 minute after we had ordered our food it was ready on our table. It was not heated in a microwave and I have absolutely no idea how they were able to produce it so fast because the food was homemade and delicious! Anyway, one of the side dishes was this gorgeous garlic chutney which is a mixture of Swahili and Indian tradition. Our Kenyan friend (of Indian origin) was travelling with us and she was able to tell me the exact ingredients of this delightful and unusual side dish. I wrote it down in my little notebook which I always carry around for recipe-emergencies such as this one and was able to recreate the chutney back in Iceland. I just love that this recipe has Asian and African roots and then ends up in Iceland, in my kitchen and hopefully all over the world (wherever you are using my website!).

If you are hiking on Mount Kilimanjaro you will be dreaming of a decent meal at the end of your hike. If you are able to have someone drive you to Moshi I definitely recommend this place. My husband led a group of hikers up Kilimanjaro in 2007 and they were so happy to eat at this Indian place...then again anything would will taste nice after such a trip!

You will need a food processor (or a hand blender) to make this chutney.

A fairly unusual side dish but absolutely delicious

This recipe is:

  • Egg free
  • Gluten free
  • Lactose (dairy) free
  • Nut free but includes seeds/oils from seeds
  • Vegan

Coconut and Garlic Chutney from Tanzania

Serves 4-5 people as a side dish


  • 50 grams (1¾ oz) coconut flakes (or coconut meat)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped very finely
  • Quarter of a chili pepper (green), chopped very finely
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon agave nectar (or tamarind paste if you can find some)


  1. Cut the chili pepper in half, scoop out the seeds and membranes and chop one quarter of the chili pepper very finely. You might want to use plastic gloves if you have sensitive skin.
  2. Peel the garlic clove and chop very finely.
  3. Heat a small frying pan over high heat (without any oil), add the 1 teaspoon mustard seeds. Dry-toast until fragrant, approximately for 10-20 seconds. You may omit this step if you prefer. Set aside.
  4. Place the 50 grams coconut flakes (or meat from the coconut) in a food processor along with the 2 tablespoons coconut milk. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth. You might need to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the ½ teaspoon agave nectar and continue blending for 15 seconds. Add more coconut milk if needed.
  5. Heat 1 teaspoon coconut oil in the frying pan.
  6. Heat the chili and the garlic for 3-4 minutes or until softened.
  7. Now add the chili, garlic and mustard seeds to the food processor and blend for 10 seconds or until well combined.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a small serving bowl. Serve at room temperature.
  9. Serve with Indian and African food, naan breads, chapatis, rice, grilled food and more.


  • Tamarind paste is often available in Asian food stores however if you can't find any, use agave nectar or maple syrup instead. Tamarind paste is slightly sour and a little sweet so if you like the chutney a bit more tangy you can add a few drops lime juice.
  • Don't confuse tamarind paste (paste made from the tamarind fruit) with tamari sauce (made from fermented soy beans), these are not the same ingredients.
  • Freeze any leftovers you might have from the coconut milk. It keeps well in the freezer for several months. You can use hem later in soups, smoothies and more.