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BM# 63: Journey through the Cuisines 

Week 4: Kerala Cuisine 

Day 21: U for Ulli Theeyal

We are starting the final week of ‘Journey through the Cuisinesmega marathon and I’m visiting beautiful Kerala — God’s own country this week. My plan for the marathon was to pick a state from each corner of the country — so I started from the west with Bengali cuisine, then moved north to Rajasthan and then east to Gujarat. Finally this week I’m in deep south in Kerala.

Initially I wanted to do Tamil cuisine and even made 2 dishes, but somehow I wasn’t happy with my choice of dishes, so I changed it to Kerala at the very last minute.

First Kerala dish for the week is this Ulli theeyal. Theeyal is a typical Kerala side dish and is very similar to sambar or kuzhambu. It can be made with different veggies like bittergourd, eggplant, okra etc. Today I have Ulli or Onion theeyal for you.

The most important component of the theeyal is the roasted coconut and tamarind spice paste that forms the base of the dish. Roasting fresh coconut needs patience, if you rush the process, you might end with burnt coconut. So it is important to cook on slow flame, stir often and stay close while making the masala. Once the coconut is perfectly roasted it smells absolutely amazing.

I have seen recipes were the onions were thinly sliced and then used, here I added frozen pearl onions that are already peeled. This is a great dish to serve with steamed rice.

Recipe from Kothiyavunu:

Print Recipe
Ulli Theeyal Yum
Theeyal is a typical Kerala side dish and is very similar to sambar or kuzhambu. Ulli theeyal is made with pearl onions with an amazing roasted coconut & tamarind spice paste. It tastes great when served with steamed rice.
Ulli Theeyal
Course side dish
Cuisine kerala
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 12 ~ 15 Pearl Onions , peeled* (I used frozen pearl onions)
  • 1/8 tsp Asafoetida / Hing
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric
  • ½ tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 8 ~ 10 Curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp Tamarind pulp
  • To Taste Salt
For the Spice Paste:
  • ¼ cup Coconut Grated
  • 3 ~ 4 Chilies Dry Red
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • ½ tsp Cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
Course side dish
Cuisine kerala
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 12 ~ 15 Pearl Onions , peeled* (I used frozen pearl onions)
  • 1/8 tsp Asafoetida / Hing
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric
  • ½ tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 8 ~ 10 Curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp Tamarind pulp
  • To Taste Salt
For the Spice Paste:
  • ¼ cup Coconut Grated
  • 3 ~ 4 Chilies Dry Red
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • ½ tsp Cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
Ulli Theeyal
Instructions
  1. Make the Spice paste: Heat 1tsp oil in a pan, add coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and fenugreek seeds. Saute till aromatic, next add grated coconut and cook on low flame, stirring constantly, until coconut turns golden brown. This step requires some serious patience -- so make sure to take some time.
  2. Let it cool and then grind to a smooth paste adding just enough water.
  3. Heat 1tbsp oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and once the seeds start to splutter, add asafoetida, curry leaves and the pearl onions. Saute till the onions are lightly browned.
  4. Add the tamarind paste along with ½cup of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 3~4 minutes.
  5. Add the ground paste and simmer for another 3~4 minutes. Remove from fire and serve hot with steamed rice. Enjoy!!
Recipe Notes

* If you are using fresh, then trim the root ends and dunk them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then rinse under cold water -- this will help peeling them much easier.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

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13 thoughts on “Ulli Theeyal (Kerala Onion Masala Curry)”

  1. That’s a lovely choice Pavani..and I know I am going to enjoy this week as well, reading all your posts..nice to know you get frozen peeled shallots…

  2. I love the print on that background fabric and it is one of my favorites from your collection. 🙂 Theeyal sounds very flavorful with those spices.

  3. I love all onion curries, anything that has onion shallots, they taste amazing. this curry sounds delicious, with wonderful spices and beautiful clicks.

  4. With North, East and West covered, it is lovely to see that you picked a Southern state this week. Amazing recipe for U!!

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