Ulli theeyal / Kerala style Ulli theeyal

Written by: 7aumsuvai

Ulli theeyal is a Kerala style curry prepared with small onion / sambar onion as the main ingredient and cooked in a coconut based gravy. The word “Ulli” in Malayalam means small onions and “Theeyal” means a slightly burnt dish. It is usually served with plain rice along with side dishes like papad or vadagam.

Ulli theeyal


Serves 4 to 5

      • 15 no’s – Small onions / sambar onions / pearl onions (chopped)
      • 1 no – Tamarind (small gooseberry size)
      • 1/4 tsp – Turmeric powder
      • Salt to taste

For grinding:

      • 1 cup – Coconut grated
      • 1 tbsp – Coriander seeds
      • 4 to 6 no’s – Dry red chillies (as needed)
      • 5 no’s – Small onion / sambar onion
      • 1 handful – Curry leaves


      • 1 to 2 tbsp – Coconut oil ( I have used sesame oil)
      • 1/4 tsp – Mustard seeds
      • 1/2 tsp – Fenugreek seeds / methi seeds / venthayam
      • Few curry leaves

Ulli theeyal

Preparation method:

  1. Soak tamarind in 1/2 cup of warm water and squeeze out the pulp. Keep it aside.
  2. Heat a tsp of oil in a pan, fry the dry red chilli, coriander seeds, small onion, grated coconut and curry leaves till it gives a nice aroma and turns to a slightly dark brown in color. Let it cool completely and grind it to a smooth paste. Keep it aside.
  3. Heat 1 to 2 tbsp of  coconut oil, season it with mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Followed by chopped small onion along with turmeric powder and little salt, saute until they are slightly golden brown in color.
  4. Now add ground coconut masala and mix well thoroughly. Add tamarind water along with 1 1/2 cups, bring it to boil and continue cooking until you reach desire consistency. Check for salt and add if required. Serve hot with plain rice and papad.

Ulli theeyal

Ulli theeyal

Ulli theeyal


  • Increase or decrease number of dry red chillies as per your spice level.
  • Make sure not to burn the spices while frying coconut masala. Otherwise theeyal /curry will end up tasting bitter.

Ulli theeyal

1 comment:

  1. Theeyal is very attractive Shanthi, love the way you present the food, so inviting!


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