1 cup grated unsweetened coconut — fresh or frozen
1 jalapeno — to 2 pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seed
2 shallots — very finely chopped
3 curry leaves — to 4 leaves, fresh or dried; if using dried curry leaves, soak for 10 minutes in water, then drain
1/2 teaspoon hulled urad dal — also known as black gram dal
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Using a large mortar and pestle, pound together the coconut, jalapenos, ginger, garlic, and salt. Add the water and pound until a paste forms. Alternatively, place the coconut, chile, ginger, garlic, and salt in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the water and process to form a thick paste.
In a heavy skillet, heat the oil. Add the mustard seed, stir, then cover and fry over medium heat until the seeds pop. Add the remaining fried ingredients, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the coconut paste and spoon out into a serving bowl. Blend in the yogurt and serve.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups (6 one-quarter cup servings)