Video guide to making Kerala's special ulli theeyal or shallots curry

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4


500 gms of shallots (chopped)

1 small lemon-sized ball of tamarind

2 ½ tbsp of coconut oil

3 green chillies (slit)

3 sprigs of curry leaves

Water as required


To roast and grind

2 cups grated coconut

6 shallots (chopped)

1 tsp of black gram

2 tsp of red chilli powder

1 ½ tsp of coriander powder

¼ tsp of turmeric powder

Salt for taste


To temper

½ tsp mustard seed

3 dried red chillies

3 green chillies



Step: 1

Slice the shallots lengthwise, into thin pieces. Slit the green chillies, and soak the tamarind in half a cup of water for about 10 minutes.

Step: 2

Roast the grated coconut in a pan with 5 to 6 shallots (chopped), two sprigs of curry leaves, and one teaspoon of black gram. After a minute, add one teaspoon of coconut oil and salt to taste. Roast on medium flame, and sauté continuously until the grated coconut turns brown.

Step: 3

Add red chilli powder, coriander powder, and turmeric powder to the pan. Sauté for one minute on low heat and ensure the coconut doesn't get burnt. Remove the pan and allow it to cool.

Step: 4

Transfer the roasted coconut mix to a blender and grind it to a very fine paste without adding water. The oil from the coconut will separate while grinding, and the mixture will become liquid. Keep this aside.

Step: 5

Heat one tablespoon of coconut oil in a pan. Add the shallots, green chillies and one sprig of curry leaves. Then sauté the shallots until golden brown. Add a bit of salt to make the sautéing faster.

Step: 6

Squeeze the tamarind in the water to extract the juices. Pour the tamarind extract into the pan through a strainer (discard the seeds and pith) and allow to boil.

Step: 7

Add the ground coconut mixture and mix well. Add about one cup of water. Bring it to a boil. Reduce the flame to low and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the oil is separated.

Step: 8

Finally, heat one tablespoon of coconut oil in a pan, and crackle the mustard seeds. Add dried red chillies and a few curry leaves. Sauté for a few seconds, and then add it to the curry.

Kerala's special ulli theeyal is ready. Serve hot with rice or roti.


• The quantity of tamarind depends on its strength

• Theeyal tends to thicken as it rests. So add water accordingly.

• Theeyal can be stored in the fridge for at least 3 to 4 days.

Recipe courtesy: Sobha Varghese is a homemaker based in Mumbai, India. Sobha runs a popular YouTube blog called ‘Sobha's Kitchenette’ that focuses on authentic and traditional Kerala recipes.

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