Ulli Theeyal is one of the main dish that is served in a Kerala Sadya. It has a sour and spiced taste with distinct flavors. Ulli or shallots also add a lot of flavor in the dish with sour flavour coming from the tamarind.

Ulli theeyal Kerala style – Did you know the foods you eat represent a part of your personality? In China, this is known as “chi”, while in India, it’s known as “prana”. According to the traditional beliefs of Chinese people, they believe a meal should have both sweet and sour taste. That’s because it helps to balance their energies beneath their physical body.  This is the life force that makes one’s personality and has to be balanced. 

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

That’s why I refer to Ulli theeyal recipe as the best meal to balance your Chi energy. The meal has a sour and spicy taste which gives you an explosion of complex flavour while in the mouth. The secret is to chew your food perfectly and not swallow to experience the taste. Let’s dive in and learn more about the authentic Ulli theeyal recipe.  

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About ulli theeyal

Ulli theeyal originates from the South Indian state of Kerala. In some regions of Kerala, theeyal is regarded as a traditional dish.  But what does theeyal means?

The word “theeyal” means a “burnt dish”, and it’s made from a combination of various spices. The spices include coriander seeds, fenugreek, dried red chilli and roasted coconut.

Ulli theeyal ina golden bowl

However, the spices are not added directly since they have to be grounded into a paste form. Once the paste has been achieved, the mixture is then cooked in tamarind water with vegetables. The meal is then cooked for a few minutes, and when ready, it can be served with rice. 

But, the big question is how does one know if the Ulli theeyal Kerala style is ready to be served. I’ll when the meal turns dark brown. In fact, the colour is gotten from the tamarind and toasted coconut. If you notice this colour change, it means your dish is ready to be served.   

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How to make Kerala ulli theeyal

When it comes to making a Ulli theeyal side dish, there are a lot of recipes online. Even YouTube videos have been made on how one can prepare a delicious meal. I can’t dispute anything about the Ulli theeyal video recipe, but not everyone understands how the dish is truly made. 

Vishu special ulli theeyal

Traditionally the meal was prepared using small red onions or onions shallots. This was the true dish, unlike today where there are different kinds of dish. Some are made with meat, veggies and prawns. Moreover, this shows how dynamic the recipe is. 

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Most importantly, I find the usage of shallots with the Ulli theeyal curry more flavorful and appetizing. The fried onions boiled with tamarind water and species makes the dish delicious. But, the dish is not complete until you add the coconut masala. And lower the temperature for its seamer.  Therefore it adds a nice consistency to the mixture, which guarantees a perfect combination of flavour.    

ulli theeyal onam sadhya

Different types of theeyal

Theeyal has been in existence for decades and goes well with any side dish. The amazing thing is the traditional dish has evolved into a different dish. In this section, I’m going to breakdown down the different types of theeyal.

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Muringakkai ulli theeyal

It is one of the dishes that make your taste buds dance. It’s made using a drum stick known as “muringakkai”, curry leaves, tamarind pulp, coconut paste (coriander, turmeric, methi powder), red chillies are ingredients used.

 The meal is usually prepared using coconut oil. But, that also includes a grated coconut which gives the food a unique armour. The Ulli theeyal with coconut is worth dying for, and your mouth will attest to this.

 The mixture is then allowed to simmer for a few minutes till it turns golden brown. It is vital to note the curry leaves and shallots are cooked on medium heat and maintain their nutrients. The food then takes 10 minutes once everything is completed and can be served with rice or a side dish to your favourite dish.

Onam special ulli theeyal

Koon ulli theeyal

This is a meal that originates from India as well. It’s also known as the mushroom theeyal, and if you have eaten mushroom before, you must try this particle dish. The Ulli theeyal recipe Kerala style uses dried and roasted coconut, which has distinct sent. The chilly and coriander powder sent are fried to ensure the roasted sent remains till they lose their raw smell. The mixture is added to the pan afterwards. This is the secret of preparing the mushroom dishes, and most people fail at this.   

Parippu ulli theeyal

It’s a traditional Kerala dish for rice which is very easy to prepare. Lentils or Parippu is a Kerala dish that has proved to be perfect for Ulli theeyal. It is cooked in coconut milk, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, scented mustard seeds, and saffron. It’s a simple Ulli theeyal that can be prepared at home since the ingredients are readily available. Plus, it takes a few minutes, and it’s ready to be served.  

kerala sadhya special ulli theeyal

Vendakka ulli theeyal

It an authentic Kerala dish which is prepared from ladies’ fingers. The preparation includes grated coconut, curry leaves, onion or shallots and other ingredients. With this particular dish, green chills are used since it enhances the flavour. Plus, it’s easier to cook as well. 

Varutharacha ulli theeyal

The recipe can be used to prepared varutharacha, chicken, fish or even mutton, depending on your preferences. The amazing thing about the dish is it can go with any dish you want to have. This is why I find this to be the best ulli theeyal recipe.  

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Potato theeyal

This is a delicious dish that is spiced and seasoned with gravy. It prepared with coconut, shallots and potatoes. It’s a great dish if you are in a hurry and still want to taste the theeyal dish. It takes one hour for the meal to be ready, but worth it. 

Beetroot theeyal

It’s a very nutritious dish that is preferred by many in the Kerala region. The recipe is a quick fix since it takes only 30 minutes, and it is ready to be served. In the modern world today, we are in a hurry and always looking for something simple and easy to prepare. If that is the case, then the beetroot theeyal is the answer. Very nutritious and delicious. 

kerala sadhya special ulli theeyal
Nutrition Facts
How to make ulli theeyal
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 178 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Trans Fat 1g
Sodium 14mg1%
Potassium 210mg6%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 307IU6%
Vitamin C 27mg33%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Calcium 44mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Ulli theeyal ingredients

For roasting

  • Fresh or dry grated coconut – 6 tbsp
  • Small red onion (sliced) – 5 numbers
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Dry red chillies – 4 numbers
  • Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp

For cooking

  • Small red onion (shallots) – 300 grams
  • Water (to soak tamarind) – 1/2 glass
  • Tamarind – (lemon ball sized)
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida – 2 pinch
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Green chillies (split lengthwise) – 2 numbers
  • Hot water – 1 cup
  • Jaggery – 20 grams
  • Salt to taste

Preparation of Ulli theeyal

Time needed: 20 minutes

Method to make

  1. Cut onions into halves

    cut onions into halves

  2. In half a glass of water, soak a lemon sized ball of tamarind

    soak a lemon sized ball of tamarind in half glass of water

  3. In a pan add 6 tbsp of grated coconut

    in a pan add t tablespoon of grated coconut

  4. Add 5 numbers of sliced small onions

    add 5 sliced red onion to the same pan

  5. Add one sprig of curry leaves

    add one sprig of curry leaves to the same pan

  6. Dry roast the coconut mixture

    dry roast the coconut mixture

  7. Add 4 numbers of dry red chilli

    add four dry red chillies

  8. Add 1 tbsp of dry coriander seeds

    add coriander seeds

  9. Dry roast the ingredients till golden brown

    dry roast the coconut mixture till golden brown

  10. Blend the mixture in a grinder

    blend the dry roasted coconut in a blender

  11. The coconut will leave oil and you will get a thick paste. Keep the paste aside

    the coconut will leave oil and you will get a thick paste

  12. In a pan heat 2 tbsp of oil

    in a pan heat two table spoon of oil

  13. When the oil is medium to high hot, add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and splutter

    when the oil is really hot add 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds and plutter

  14. Add 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds

    add 1/4 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds

  15. Put 2 pinches of asafoetida

    add two pinch of asafoetida

  16. Add one sprig of curry leaves

    add one sprig of curry leaves

  17. Add two green chillies

    add two green chillies

  18. Saute the ingredients for a minute and add 300 grams of halved Indian small onions

    add 300 grams of halved onions

  19. Add salt to taste (salt helps onions to cook fast)

    salt to tast

  20. Add 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder

    add quarter teaspoon od turmeric powder

  21. Cook onions till translucent

    saute onions till translucent

  22. Add the blended coconut mixture

    mix in the blended coconut paste

  23. cook for another 5 minutes and add 1 cup of hot water

    add one cup of water

  24. Add 20 grams of jaggery

    add 20 grams of jaggery

  25. Mix the soaked tamarind pulp (to your taste)

    mix in the soaked tamarind juice

  26. Add salt to taste

    salt to taste

  27. Cook till the gravy thickens

    cook till the gravy thickens

  28. Ulli theeyal is ready

    ulli theeyal is ready

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How to make ulli theeyal

Ulli Theeyal is one of the main dish that is served in a Kerala Sadya. It has a sour and spiced taste with distinct flavors. Ulli or shallots also add a lot of flavor in the dish with sour flavour coming from the tamarind.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine kerala cuisine
Keyword best ulli theeyal recipe, easy ulli theeyal, nadan ulli theeyal recipe, recipe for kerala ullitheeyal, Ulli theeyal
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 178kcal
Author Sumith Babu
Cost £ 3


For dry roasting

  • 6 tbsp Grated coconut fresh or dry
  • 5 numbers Small red onions sliced
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves
  • 4 numbers Dry red chillies
  • 1 tbsp Coriander seeds

For cooking

  • 300 grams Small red onions Indian small onions or shallots
  • 1/2 glass Water to soak tamarind
  • 10 grams Tamararind lemon sized ball
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
  • 2 pinch Asafoetida
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves
  • 2 numbers Green chillies split into half
  • 1 cup Hot water
  • 20 grams Jaggery


  • Cut onions into halves and keep aside
  • In half a glass of water, soak a lemon sized ball of tamarind and keep aside
  • In a pan add the grated coconut, 5 sliced small onions and one sprig of curry leaves
  • Dry roast the coconut mixture
  • When the coconut is half done add 4 dry chillies and 1 tbsp od coriander seeds
  • Dry roast till golden brown
  • Blend the roasted mixture in a mixer
  • The coconut will leave oil and you will get a thick paste. Keep the mixture aside
  • In a pan heat 2 tbsp of oil
  • When the oil is medium to high heat, add mustard seeds and splutter
  • Add fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, green chillies and shallots
  • Add salt to taste
  • Mix in turmeric powder and cook till onions are translucent
  • Add the blended coconut mixture
  • Cook for another five minutes add 1 cup of hot water
  • Add jaggery and the tamarind pulp (to your taste)
  • Add salt to taste
  • Cook till the gravy thickens
  • Your ulli theeyal is ready to serve



  1. Make sure you don’t burn the grated coconut while dry roasting
  2. Add tamarind and jaggery to your taste
  3. Adding salt will helps onions to cook fast


Serving: 1g | Calories: 178kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 14mg | Potassium: 210mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 307IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Vitamin E: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg


How to make Ulli theeyal in Kerala style?

Preparing a Ulli theeyal meal depends on the kind of dish you want to make. Considering there are different types, though the recipe is slightly the same. Most of the ingredients used to cut across every dish. Hence to prepare a meal in Kerala style requires you to know the ingredients and the kind. For example, preparing murungakkai requires curry leaves and tamarind pulp, coconut paste, (coriander, turmeric, methi powder), red chillies, are the ingredients used. But when it comes to vendakka ulli theeyal green chillies are used.

What is ulli theeyal?

Ulli theeyal is a dish that originates from the South Indian state of Kerala. The word “theeyal” means a “burnt dish”. The meal is made from various spices such as coriander seeds, fenugreek, dried red chilli and roasted coconut.

What is theeyal?

“Theeyal” is a Malayalam word from the Kerala state of India that means “burnt dish”.

What is ulli?

“Ulli” is a word that refers to Onion in the Malayalam language from the state of Kerala, India.

Final word

Making Ulli theeyal is an easy process which takes a few minutes depending on the kind of meal you want. The secret is following the recipes given, and that is why I’m here to guide you. I have prepared a detailed summary of every recipe you can try out while at home. They are simple and easy to follow. Every step has been vividly explained to ensure you understand what is expected of you. Therefore, let us meet in the kitchen and prepare a delicious meal.