Ulli Theeyal Recipe – Shallots in Tamarind and Coconut Sauce

Ulli Theeyal Recipe is a delicious Kerala recipe made out of roasted coconut and small onions (shallots).

ulli theeyal recipe

A couple of days back while I was on my usual social media activity to respond to any questions and comments I would have received, I suddenly got a pop-up.

It was the Facebook messenger.

The message read, “Hi Puja, do you remember me?”

I don’t usually get a lot of such messages, so my thought-process got stuck. I looked at the name and tried to recollect people that I would have spoken to in the last few weeks.

No. It wasn’t any of them.

Ulli Theeyal

Then, the next list came up which was my co-workers. But that wasn’t one of them either.

The mind kept flipping pages and eventually I came to a list of my school friends. And the name clicked. I quickly opened her profile and when I scanned her photographs I could relate.

I responded, “Oh! yes. I remember you”.

Ulli Theeyal

And that started off a conversation between 2 friends who hadn’t met after school. That was a lot of years.

We both never thought we will meet, even in the wildest of dreams. So the joy of finding each other was un-explainable.

When the conversation ended, it was almost 30 minutes. That’s when I realized that I didn’t even ask for her phone number.

But that was fine. After all I had Facebook.. 🙂

Now that’s what social media of today could do.

Ulli Theeyal

In fact Dilip’s school reunion was also made possible with the help of social media.

We are from those times when there wasn’t anything like a mobile phone or, social media. What we knew was Orkut and that too was accessible only to a few who had access to a computer or, who had the money to spend in an internet cafe.

So when we left school and moved on in life, all we could share with friends was an “autograph book” with good wishes. No phone numbers, no email addresses and no social media contacts.

Ulli Theeyal

At that point, we had convinced ourselves that we would meet again only if we are lucky. And for people who moved cities and states, that was unlikely.

But technology had other plans. And things changed. Social media took over and Facebook became the king.

Ulli Theeyal

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Hate, because I hate the time that is wasted on there, the number of irrelevant discussions that happen there and above all the Fake admiration that people have for others. It makes everything around us appear fake, though it isn’t really that way.

.. and Love, because of the marketing opportunities on Facebook.

But something that I would always be thankful to Facebook for, is all of the lost friends that I gained back. And it wouldn’t have been possible without Facebook.

Ulli Theeyal

Ulli Theeyal Recipe – Shallots in Tamarind and Coconut Sauce

Ulli Theeyal Recipe is a South Indian recipe. Theeyal means burnt dish, referring to roasted coconut that is used as the main ingredient and is usually dark brown in color, flavored with tamarind and small onions.

People in Kerala make this curry more often along with plain steamed rice and any side dish.

This recipe also goes well along with coconut rice, rava upma, dosa. Ulli theeyal recipe is also a part of Onam Sadya in some part of Kerala.

If you feel that you are in love with South Indian Curry Recipes then I am sure you would love the below Mouth Watering Curries from Kerala…..

ulli theeyal recipe

Ulli Theeyal Recipe – Shallots in Tamarind and Coconut Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 -5
Author: Puja
Print Recipe


  • Shallots/pearl onion - 30 + 5
  • Grated cococnut - 1 cup tightly packed
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Red chilli powder - 2 tsp
  • Tamarind - 1 small lemon size seedless
  • Dried red chilli - 2
  • Mustard seed - 1/4 tsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Coconut oil - 4 tbsp or as needed


  1. Peel shallots/pearl onions. Keep 5 to fry while grinding coconut.
  2. Slice 30 small onions into thin pieces and set aside.(I prefer slicing the small onions in a round shape but if you want you can cut it lengthwise too)
  3. In a pan add coconut, 5 small onion and whole red chilli and fry until dark brown, stirring continuously over low flame.
  4. Remove it from fire, add turmeric powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder.
  5. Bring it back to the fire and fry for a minute stirring continuously.
  6. Once done take it out in a plate and let this mixture cool down.
  7. Now add this mixture in a mixie, add tamarind and grind it to a smooth paste by adding little water to it.
  8. Now heat oil in a kadhai and add mustard seeds to it.
  9. Once the seeds starts spluttering add curry leaves to it and saute for few seconds.
  10. Now add chopped onion and fry until light brown.
  11. Once the onion gets fried properly add ground paste, salt and water as needed and bring it to boil.
  12. After it gets boil reduce the flame to lowest and cook for 4-5 minutes or until it thickens and oil separates.
  13. Serve with plain hot steamed rice, coconut rice or rava (suji) upma.

Recipe Notes

Make sure that the spices doesn't get burnt. The quantity of tamarind varies depending on its strength. Taste the tamarind first and add accordingly. Also, tamarind can be salty at times, so be careful while adding salt to the curry. Theeyal curry tends to thicken as it rests, so adjust the quantity of water accordingly. Curry keeps well in fridge for 3-4 days.

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12 thoughts on “Ulli Theeyal Recipe – Shallots in Tamarind and Coconut Sauce

  1. This looks delicious Puja! I do love the flavour of tamarind! I agree with you – I have a love/hate relationship with facebook too but it certainly has its uses and that’s so great you found an old friend!

  2. Awww… so glad you were reunited with an old friend via FB – I tell you, if not for FB, I think I might have lost touch with so many friends I grew up with and moved away from! By the way, this ulli theeyal looks fantastic – so flavor packed! I love tamarind and have a whole container I picked up yesterday from Kroger waiting for me to experiment with on recipes like this!

  3. I totally agree with you Puja. Social media has its pros and cons. But it’s definitely a great way to reconnect with people. This dish sounds spicy and comforting! Thanks for sharing!

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