Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ulli Curry/Ulli theeyal/Varutharacha ulli curry/Pearl onion curry

Seasonal fruits ..... oh, yes, it is budget-friendly, sweet, and then starts the hunt for an array of recipes to make use of that final bit of fruit stuck in your bowl. 

What about seasonal curries? Do they make their way to your dining table only that particular season. Of course, it happens in my family and with nostalgia intertwined this curry is so delicious, will make you cry, drool, and often a reminder of Lent season.

As a Kochiite, I love a good portion of it. I always associate Ulli curry to this season as we make it only during Lent. 

I believe once your brain is wired to the first delicious authentic bite of anything you ever tasted, you always want to recreate that particular taste in your kitchen, and when it does not happen.....hmmm..... a sunken feeling. Happily this time with 2 Mom chefs around, my job was just to lick teeny weeny last bits of coconut gravy fencing the bowl. 

Do peeling onions make you cry? Why not do it once a year ..... for when your bowl of Ulli curry is born, you know it is worth the effort.

Now let's move on to palate watering Kunjulli curry.....  

Serves 15 people

Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Dry Red chillies - 2 Nos.
Green chillies - 2 Nos.
Curry leaves
Shallots/pearl onions/Madras onions, peeled and sliced - 3 cups
Coconut oil
Salt to taste
Tamarind - lemon sized ball(to make 1/2 cup of tamarind water) 

To roast and grind
Grated coconut - 1 1/2 cups
Coriander powder - 3 tsp
Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp

In a nonstick pan and low flame, dry roast grated coconut until brown (it should be exceedingly brown, but you should not burn it). Once it has achieved the brown color, which we are looking for, switch off the stove, add cumin seeds, coriander powder, chilli powder, and turmeric powder. Now fry for 1 minute (this is a very important step).

Grind them to make a paste without adding water. 

Soak tamarind in warm water. When tamarind is soft, squeeze well and collect the tamarind water. Keep this aside.

Heat oil in a pan, allow mustard seeds to crackle. Add dry red chillies, green chillies, curry leaves, and pearl onions. Saute them well (Onions should not be browned. Please have a look at the first picture, it tells you how onion should be cooked). Add tamarind water, which we have squeezed and kept aside. Add salt to this. Let it boil. Now add the ground paste and allow it to boil until the gravy thickens.  Once the gravy is thickened, switch off the stove, and serve hot with steaming rice.  


  • It tastes best the second day. So if you are planning to serve for your guests, cook ahead, and let the flavors blend. 
  • You can add little bit of jaggery if you prefer. This gives a delicious undertone to ulli theeyal.
  • If you are making Kunjulli curry for a small family, reduce ingredients by half. 
  • This quantity of curry was for 15 people.



  1. Delicious curry,Sebeena!! :)

  2. I am telling you this to impress you but its the trues. Onions and shallots, oh my my!!! I eat loads of it even the raw ones are ok for me. I however prefer shallots to onions, maybe in my opinion its sweeter. Thus this curry with cups of shallots, made as per your recipe, hitting my table and yumming all the way.

  3. Owhhhh the thick gravy is to die for dear! Love it totally ;)

  4. i really appreciate the patience to deskin all that cheriyulli... :) the curry looks really delectable... :)

  5. Now this is something really really delicious!! I loved this recipe and the picture is so good….it makes me drool!

  6. Hi sabeena..first time here. Me too a kochikaarie n this my favourite curry to date. But I have never made it myself though. It's always mummy making this for me n I luv her preparation. She adds jaggery too. Happy to follow u.

  7. wow love the color of th gravy, going on to do list.

  8. Omg, dont kill me like this, those loads of ulli makes me drool..Wat a tantalizing food.

  9. I'l never made ulli theeyal, but i bet it would taste the flavor of pearl onions.

  10. my favorite recipe... its very tempting me to taste at this second...

  11. Wow Sabeena,that looks so yummy ,avide ulli krishi velathum undo engil please send me some..he hee..

  12. Very spicy yummy recipe and great clicks :)

  13. Ulli curry looks so yummy... :-)

  14. I love this curry so much Sabeena. Been a long time since I have made it. Your version looks so very delish :)

  15. i love this a lot,my favorite theeyal............mouthwatering!!

  16. In ancient times, when I used to be a little girl, one time my best friend's Mom had cooked onion curry. It was unlike any curry I had ever eaten, and so darned delicious that it has stayed with me till date. Your curry reminds me of that. Than you so much, this sounds lovely!

  17. Mmmmmm.......................................................... Lovely theeyal



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