Monday, 9 January 2012

Ulli Theeyal

Theeyal is my favorite Kerala vegetarian dish. My mom always made sure that she had it ready for me when I went home on a holiday. I really miss making it often as I do not get good Shallots (cheru ulli) where I live. It is a very flavourful kozhambu. I really enjoy eating it with Matta Rice (The thick rice with red lines on it). Thanks to Shobha chechi for the recipe

Just a word about Matta Rice. People from Kerala really enjoy this rice. To me it is the best rice around. But I feel that people outside Kerala usually find it difficult to enjoy it. The usual complaint I hear is that it is difficult to chew. In many hotels, the rice is not properly cooked, that could be the reason. If you cook it patiently with enough water, this will be soft (Ofcourse never really mushy, that is not how it is meant to be). It has such fragrance and taste on its own. It is super healthy and filling. I am lucky that my Tamilian husband also enjoys this rice, though I am sure he likes the white rice better :-)

Have you guys listened to the song - poo pookum osai from the movie minsara kanavu. In that there is a line - pasikonda neeram thalikkum osai, santhosha sangeetham. Roughly translated it is when you are hungry, the sound of tempering is happy music. In most tamil cooking, tempering is done at the end of cooking. So it means food is ready and you can eat. Interestingly in kerala, cooking starts with tempering with mustard and lots of curry leaves. So don't be fooled by the sound of Tempering :-) Either ways, I love the sound and smell of cooking. It is music to me and relaxation to the senses. Theeyal is one classic dish where you can enjoy this.


Shallots 15-20 (I had about a cup)
Coconut 3/4 cup
Coriander seeds 2 tsp
Red Chillies 4
Tamarind Paste 1 tsp
Mustard 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 10-12

Oil and Salt to taste

Method of Preparation

1. Cut the shallots into 2-3 small pieces depending on the size.

2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add the coconut and saute for a couple of min. Add the coriander seeds, red chillies and a couple of Shallots.

3. Saute till it turns dark brown, making sure it does not burn. I usually use a non-stick pan for this step so that it does not stick to the bottom and does not smoke the house.

4. Cool and grind into a fine paste adding little water. Do not use too much water.

5. Add some oil  in the pan and add the mustard seeds.

6. When it sputters, add the curry leaves and then the Shallots. Saute the shallots till it is roasted and cooked well.

7. Add the ground paste, tamarind and salt. Add about a cup of water as well. Note that Theeyal is a very thick gravy. Just add only as much water as required.

8. Bring it to a boil and switch off. Enjoy with Rice

Guys, do let me know what you thought about the photos. Am still learning and thought that this is an improvement from when I started blogging.

Linking this to Kerala Kitchen Event this month hosted by Kaveri of Palakkad Chamayal


  1. Your clicks are definitely beautiful and inviting .. I think you are going in the right direction .. Good luck Rosh!!

  2. yummy...tasty one..Bookmarked


  3. Authentic !!!! I have had experience of the rice... and I hated it.. Now I know.. probably it wasnt cooked well ...

    Thank u for visiting me Roshini...

    If you can mail me your id to . I will mail u the details of the shoot.. Looknig forward to hear from u...

  4. very authentic preparation...clicks are so tempting...
    thanks for the award n i just posted it.

    Spicy Treats
    OnGoing Event ~ Dish It Out-Brinjal n Garlic

  5. Very delicious ulli theeyal... Love it always!!
    First time to your space n happy to follow you :-))
    Do drop by my space n I would love if you follow it too..
    Erivum Puliyum

  6. wow!!Looks so delicious & mouthwatering...& superb clicks!!
    & I am waiting to see a different post in your blog with your blogging experience,I may miss it,so dont forget to link to Midweek Fiesta
    once you posted....

  7. What type of coconut do you use? Is it 3/4 cup fresh chunks / chopped, unsweetened shredded, milk? Thanks.

    1. The coconut used here (as in most dishes from India) is grated fresh coconut. The frozen coconut is a very good substitute and can be used. I use that quite often. Dessicated coconut will not work very well.

  8. Just prepared it yummy & mouth watering ...we had it with neer dosa ..super combo