I belonged in Idle Valley like a pearl onion on a banana split.
– The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
It is Monday. Do not forget to be AWESOME this week.
My week started with a lot of hugs from Sonshine (perfect start to my week, I say). These were the special hugs to help Sonshine get over his nightmare from yesterday night. There is no bad dream that mom’s hugs can’t take care of!
I dream too. I generally remember the bad ones and the funny ones, but not the good ones. I wish I could hold on to the good dreams. I wish my subconscious was conscious enough to make me forget the bad ones and just retain the funny ones and the good ones.
But what about the other kind of dreams – the ones that give you hope? The ones that motivate you to go on? They are these beautiful treasures you have to hold on to. Never give up dreaming. I found this beautiful poem “Dreams” by Langston Hughes (The Dream Keeper and other poems , which I am quoting here:
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
So, dream on people. Dream your wildest dreams and make them all come true. There is nothing to stop you if you are passionate about something, just listen to your heart and do it.
This blog is my dream come true. I strive to post as many tasty and simple recipes as I can. If my recipes help you to create beautiful meals, I will feel blessed.
I am planning a series of posts for Mother’s day. These recipes are given to me by my friends which are their mother’s specialties. These are the dishes my friends crave from their mother’s cooking. They are simple recipes but are outstanding in terms of flavor.
I am bringing you the recipe for Ulli Theeyal, a gravy dish from the Kerala Cuisine. To be frank, Ulli Theeyal was not one of my favorite dishes, until I tasted it when my friend Suchu’s mom made it. That taste is still lingering like a beautiful memory. It had the “coconut-ty” taste with the kick of spices, the tang from the tamarind, the perfect sweetness of jaggery and subtle (very subtle) hint of bitterness of methi/fenugreek seeds.
Oh boy. Just writing this, is making me want to have some more.
You can make Theeyal with Lady’s finger (okra) or eggplant. But my favorite is the one made using Ulli – Shallots/Pearl onions. The amount of hard work you put in to peel the pearl onions/shallots will be forgotten with the first taste of this dish. Do trust me on that. The shallots I get here (US) are bigger than the ones I used to get in India. I realized that pearl onions are better suited in terms of size for the recipe. If you are dreading the task of peeling the pearl onions, you might find peeled pearl onions in the frozen vegetables aisle in the grocery store. If they are small, feel free to add a little more than the quantity suggested in the recipe.The traditional way of preparing ulli
The traditional way of preparing ulli theeyal involves grinding the roasted spices & coconut to a smooth paste and then adding the tamarind juice/pulp and jaggery while cooking ground coconut with the shallots/pearl onions. I have made a slight change in my recipe because I find it easier to grind the tamarind and jaggery along with roasted coconut and spices. It is just a personal preference, but if you like to follow the traditional way, you can do that too. I have mentioned it in my recipe notes for your convenience.
The fresh coconut is roasted till brown and aromatic along with some spices and ground to very paste. This paste is then added to the sautéed & caramelized pearl onions. And then…..cooked to perfection.
Try this delicious Ulli Theeyal – the perfect blend of flavors that poke all those taste buds very gently giving you the ultimate sense of satisfaction from a meal.
Ulli Theeyal is coconut based gravy dish from the Kerala cuisine with a kick of spices and the tang from the tamarind and the perfect sweetness of jaggery and subtle (very subtle) hint of bitterness of methi/fenugreek seeds. The perfect blend of flavors that poke all those taste buds very gently giving you the ultimate sense of satisfaction from a meal.
10 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
30 minTotal Time
- 3/4 cup grated coconut
- 10-12 Medium Pearl Onions/Shallots (See Recipe Notes)
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Turmeric/Turmeric Powder/Haldi
- 1 heaped teaspoon Ground Coriander Seeds/ Coriander Powder
- 1 teaspoon Indian Red Chilli Powder (adjust to taste; See Recipe Notes)
- 10-12 Curry Leaves; divided
- 1/4 teaspoon Meth Seeds; divided
- 1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds/Jeera (Optional)
- 1 teaspoon Tamarind Pulp/gooseberry sized Tamarind
- 2-3 teaspoon Oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- 1-2 whole Red Chillies
- small piece Jaggery
- Medium sized saute pan
- Measuring Cups & Spoons
- A small bowl
- Food Processor/Mixer-grinder
- Steamed Rice
- Heat the saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the coconut and roast for a couple of minutes, till it looses the moisture and is kind of dry.
- Add the ground turmeric, ground coriander and Indian red chilli powder, a few curry leaves, half the quantity of methi seeds and the cumin seeds to the coconut and roast till aromatic and the coconut turns brown.
- Remove from heat, transfer to the small bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
- Once it is cool enough to handle, grind the roasted coconut and spices along with tamarind and jaggery to make a smooth paste with as little water as possible. (See Recipe Notes)
- Place the saute pan back on the stove. Add oil and when the oil heats up, add the mustard seeds. Let it splutter and then reduce the heat to medium-low, add the methi seeds and whole red . Saute for a few seconds and add the curry leaves.
- Now, add the pearl onions and saute them well till they turn a little brown and start to caramelize.
- Add the ground coconut paste to the caramelized pearl onions and water to adjust the consistency. Let the onions cook well and let the gravy turn thick.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.
1. I have used the frozen pearl onions to make this dish and since they were really small, I have used up to 20-25 pearl onions for the same measurement of all other ingredients.
2. I always use a combination of Cayenne Pepper and Paprika instead of the Indian red chilli powder. Adjust the spiciness to suit your taste.
3. I typically cook with tamarind pulp which is concentrated and is very tangy. You can use whole tamarind instead of the pulp. If the tamarind is hard, soak it in a little water to soften it up and use the water to help you with grinding.
4. The traditional way of preparing Ulli theeyal involves grinding the roasted spices and coconut to a smooth paste and add this ground paste to the caramelized onions. Saute it for a few minutes and then add the tamarind juice/pulp and jaggery and bring to a boil.
4. Please note that this dish thickens on cooling down, adjust the consistency to suit your taste.