Prepare time: 20 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Serves: 4 Persons


  • 23 shallots small onions (20 + 3) Peel them and chop into halves or use them whole
  • 3 tsp coconut oil 2 tsp + 1 tsp (divided)
  • ½ cup coconut grated
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp red chili powder adjust according to taste
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Whole peppercorns adjust according to taste
  • 1.5 cups water 1 cup + ½ cup
  • 1.5 tsp tamarind paste Dilute the tamarind paste in 1 cup of water
  • 1.5 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 10 curry leaves

Directions For Making Ulli Theeyal

  1. Heat a saucepan or kadai and add 1 tsp of coconut oil. When the oil is hot, add the coconut first and fry for a minute or two. Then add all the spice powders – coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder, three shallots, fenugreek seeds, and whole pepper.
  2. Now roast till the raw smell goes for about 4 to 5 minutes over medium heat. The coconut mixture will turn brown, and that’s perfectly fine. Remember, theeyal means “burnt dish.” We need to roast the coconut well. Don’t let it turn dark brown, though.
  3. Let this mixture cool down and grind with ½ cup of water into a smooth paste. Set this aside.
  4. Now heat the same saucepan or kadai and add the remaining 2 tsps of oil. 
  5. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves. Let the mustard seeds splutter. At this stage, add the shallots and saute for a few minutes (three to four minutes). Now add the tamarind water and salt and let it simmer for a few minutes. Let the shallots become tender.
  6. Now add the ground paste and bring it to a boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, turn off the heat. Add a few more curry leaves and drizzle a tsp of coconut oil. (It’s optional).
  7. Serve the theeyal with rice. I have tried theeyal with tiffins like idli, upma, and dosa also.

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