ulli theeyal recipe, how to make ulli theeyal | small onion curry

ulli theeyal recipe with step by step pics – ulli theeyal recipe is one of the delicious gravy based dish that is served in onam sadya. ulli theeyal has a sour and spiced taste with complex flavors.

ulli theeyal recipe

ulli theeyal curry has flavors of roasted coconut and spices. ulli or pearl onions also add a lot of flavor in the dish with sour notes coming from the tamarind. if you like the taste of pearl onions in any dish then this recipe is for you. i have also shared pearl onion sambar recipe.

i started making ulli theeyal some 8 years back and still do at times. this recipe will give you a good ulli theeyal with a homely taste. with the same recipe i also make brinjal theeyal. another known variation which is made is mushroom theeyal and i will post its recipe soon.

any tamarind based gravy or curry goes very well with steamed rice. so does ulli theeyal which is best served with steamed rice or steamed kerala matta rice.

if you are looking for more kerala recipes then do check:

ulli theeyal

4.88 from 8 votes
Author:Dassana Amit
Prep Time:30 mins
Cook Time:20 mins
Total Time:50 mins
Course:main course
Cuisine:kerala,south indian
Calories: 160kcal
Servings (change the number to scale):3
ulli theeyal recipe, small onion curry recipe
kerala ulli theeyal curry recipe - ulli theeyal is one of the delicious gravy based dish that is served in onam sadya. ulli theeyal has a sour and spiced taste with complex flavors.

INGREDIENTS FOR ulli theeyal

(1 CUP = 250 ML)

for spice paste

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • ½ tablespoon coriander seeds (sabut dhania)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 15 whole black pepper (sabut kali mirch)
  • 8 fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  • 2 dry red chilies - byadagi or kashmiri, deseeded and broken or halved
  • ½ cup tightly packed grated coconut - fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup water for grinding

for tamarind pulp

  • ½ tablespoon tightly packed seedless tamarind
  • cup hot water for soaking tamarind

other ingredients for ulli theeyal curry

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup heaped pearl onions or shallots - 175 grams pearl onions or shallots
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
  • ½ to ⅔ cup water to be added later
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon jaggery - optional
  • salt as required

for tempering ulli theeyal

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chili - halved and deseeded
  • 7 to 8 curry leaves (kadi patta)

HOW TO MAKE ulli theeyal

preparation for ulli theeyal

  • firstly soak 1 heaped cup of pearl onions (sambar onions) in water in a bowl for 20 to 30 minutes. soaking them makes it easier to peel them. 
  • also soak ½ tablespoon tightly packed seedless tamarind in ⅓ cup hot water for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • after 30 minutes, peel the onions and rinse them well. keep aside. if the onions are bigger in size, you can halve them.
  • after 20 to 30 minutes, squeeze the pulp from the tamarind and add in the soaked water. keep tamarind pulp aside.
  • when the onions are soaking, you can start making the spice paste.

making coconut and spice paste

  • heat 2 teaspoons coconut oil in a frying pan. keep the flame to a low. 
  • add ½ tablespoon coriander seeds and mix them with the oil.
  • then add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 15 black pepper, 8 methi seeds and 2 dry red chilies (deseeded and broken or halved).
  • mix well and fry stirring often till the spices become aromatic and the red chilies change color.
  • then add ½ cup tightly packed fresh grated coconut. mix very well.
  • then with continuous stirring roast the coconut till it becomes golden. keep the pan or kadai down and let this coconut and spices mixture cool down. you can also roast the spices and coconut without oil. 
  • once cooled, then add the roasted coconut and spices in a grinder jar. also add ½ cup water.
  • grind to a smooth paste.

making ulli theeyal

  • heat 2 teaspoons coconut oil in the same kadai or pan and add the peeled pearl onions.
  • stir them and saute stirring often till you see the edges getting light browned.
  • then add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder and mix well. 
  • now add the tamarind pulp and mix again. 
  • then add the ground coconut and spice paste. mix again.
  • add ½ to ⅔ cup water. season with salt as per taste.
  • add ¼ to ½ teaspoon jaggery and mix again. jaggery is optional and can be skipped.
  • simmer for 9 to 10 minutes. stir at intervals. then switch off the flame. cover the pan.

tempering ulli theeyal

  • heat 2 teaspoons coconut oil in a small pan or tadka pan. add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds and let them crackle.
  • then add 7 to 8 curry leaves and 1 dry red chili, halved and deseeded.
  • stir and fry till the red chilies change color.
  • switch off the flame and pour the tempering mixture in the ulli theeyal.
  • cover the pan and let the flavors infuse for some minutes.
  • serve ulli theeyal with steamed rice.
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preparation to make ulli theeyal recipe

1. firstly soak 1 heaped cup of pearl onions (sambar onions) in water in a bowl for 20 to 30 minutes. soaking them makes it easier to peel them later. you can also use shallots or small sized onions.

making ulli theeyal recipe

2. also soak ½ tablespoon tightly packed seedless tamarind in ⅓ cup hot water for 20 to 30 minutes.

making ulli theeyal recipe

3. after 30 minutes, peel the onions and rinse them well. keep aside. if the onions are bigger in size, you can halve them.

making ulli theeyal recipe

4. after 20 to 30 minutes, squeeze the pulp from the tamarind and add in the soaked water. keep tamarind pulp aside. when the onions and tamarind are soaking, you can start making the spice paste.

making ulli theeyal recipe

making paste for ulli theeyal

5. heat 2 teaspoons coconut oil in a frying pan. keep the flame to a low. then add ½ tablespoon coriander seeds and mix them with the oil.

making ulli theeyal recipe

6. then add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 15 whole black pepper, 8 methi seeds (fenugreek seeds) and 2 dry red chilies (deseeded and broken or halved). for a spicy theeyal you can add 3 to 4 red chilies.

making ulli theeyal recipe

7. mix well and fry stirring often till the spices become aromatic and the red chilies change color.

making ulli theeyal recipe

8. then add ½ cup tightly packed fresh grated coconut.

making ulli theeyal recipe

9. mix very well.

making ulli theeyal recipe

10. then with continuous stirring roast the coconut till it becomes golden. keep the pan or kadai down and let this coconut and spices mixture cool down. coconut should become golden. you can also roast the spices and coconut without oil.

making ulli theeyal recipe

11. then add the roasted coconut and spices along with the oil in a grinder jar. also add ½ cup water.

making ulli theeyal recipe

12. grind to a smooth paste.

making ulli theeyal recipe

making ulli theeyal

13. heat 2 teaspoons coconut oil in the same kadai or pan and add the peeled pearl onions.

making ulli theeyal recipe

14. mix them with the oil and then begin to saute them.

making ulli theeyal recipe

15. saute onions till you see the edges getting light browned.

making ulli theeyal recipe

16. then add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi).

making ulli theeyal recipe

17. mix turmeric powder with the onions.

making ulli theeyal recipe

18. now add the tamarind pulp.

making ulli theeyal recipe

19. mix well.

making ulli theeyal recipe

20. then add the ground roasted coconut and spice paste.

making ulli theeyal recipe

21. mix again.

making ulli theeyal recipe

22. add ½ to ⅔ cup water.

making ulli theeyal recipe

23. season with salt as per taste.

making ulli theeyal recipe

24. add ¼ to ½ teaspoon jaggery and mix again. jaggery is optional and can be skipped.

making ulli theeyal recipe

25. simmer ulli theeyal curry for 9 to 10 minutes. then switch off the flame. cover the pan.

making ulli theeyal recipe

tempering ulli theeyal

26. heat 2 teaspoons coconut oil in a small pan or tadka pan. add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds.

making kerala ulli theeyal recipe

27. let the mustard seeds crackle.

making kerala ulli theeyal recipe

28. then add 7 to 8 curry leaves and 1 dry red chili (halved and deseeded). stir and fry till the red chilies change color.

making kerala ulli theeyal recipe

29. switch off the flame and pour the tempering mixture in the ulli theeyal.

making kerala ulli theeyal recipe

30. cover the pan and let the flavors infuse for some minutes.

kerala ulli theeyal recipe

31. serve ulli theeyal with steamed rice.

kerala ulli theeyal recipe

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dassana amit

Founder, Chef, Recipe Developer, Food Photographer >> MORE ABOUT US

namaste and welcome to vegrecipesofindia.com which i started in feb 2009 and is a pure vegetarian blog. i have been passionate about cooking from childhood and began to cook from the age of 10. later having enrolled in a home science degree greatly enhanced my cooking & baking skills and took it to a different level which i now share as foolproof recipes. i was formally trained both in mainstream indian as well as international cuisines.

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8 comments/reviews

  1. I made this for lunch today and it turned out delicious…..thank you …will definitely include it in my menu when I have guests over.5 stars