Onion/Shallots Theeyal – Kerala Special


In this post I have explained about the influence of Kerala cuisine in mine. When it comes to Indian state based recipes how can I miss Kerala? Here is one of my favorite recipe from Kerala – Small onions / Shallots Theeyal or as they say in Malayalam Ulli Theeyal.


It is similar to varathu aracha kuzhambu (freshly ground masala sambhar) with the flavor of small onions and coconut. The key ingredient in this Theeyal/Kuzhambu/Sambhar is Small Onions or Shallots. You can use regular onion along with other veggies like drumstick and brinjals but small onions provides the unique flavor and makes this Theeyal stand out. I totally agree peeling small onions is not an easy task but no pain no gain ;-) This is was a word by mouth recipe but later modified from the Kerala Tourism blog. Basically you need to dry roast coconut, method seeds, red chilly powder, coriander powder, turmeric and shallots and grind them into a smooth paste. This forma the base for the Theeyal.



I didn’t use any other veggies but as I mentioned you can use other veggies along with shallots too. This Theeyal goes well with rice and with any dry curries or Thoran.



Onion/Shallots Theeyal
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
  1. Small Onions/Shallots - 20 + 3 (Peel and chop them into halves)
  2. Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
  3. Methi seeds - 1 tsp
  4. Red chilly Powder - 1 tsp
  5. Dhaniya/Coriander Powder - 2 tsp
  6. Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
  7. Pepper Powder - 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)
  8. Water - 1 cup + 1/2 cup
  9. Tamarind water - 1 cup (Diluted 2 tsps of tamarind paste in 1 cup of water or soak the tamarind in 1 cup of water and extract the juice)
  10. Oil - 2 tsps + 1 tsp
  11. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  12. Hing - 1/2 tsp
  13. Salt - 1 tsp
  14. Curry Leaves - 1 strand
  1. Heat the kadai and add 1 tsp of oil.
  2. Add the grated coconut and fry for couple of minutes.
  3. Now add the methi seeds, turmeric powder, red chilly powder, pepper powder,dhaniya powder and fry till the raw smell goes.
  4. Now add the 3 shallots and fry for another couple of minutes. (The coconut mixture will be dark brown in color and thats perfectly fine)
  5. Let this mixture cool down and grind with 1/2 cup of water into smooth paste.
  6. Now again heat the kadai and 2 tsps of oil.
  7. Once the oil is hot add the mustard seeds and hing.
  8. As they start to splutter add the chopped shallots and cook till they are tender.
  9. Add the tamarind extract, the grinded masala and salt.
  10. Bring it to boil. Add the curry leaves and let it boil for a minute and then turn it off.
Adapted from Kerala Tourism Blog
Adapted from Kerala Tourism Blog
Vidhya’s Vegetarian Kitchen http://www.vidhyashomecooking.com/

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29 thoughts on “Onion/Shallots Theeyal – Kerala Special

  1. Our family favorite .. We used to make this with ulunthu soru in our native.. Instead of making them as paste, we powdered them nicely ..I remember that my grandmom used ural to powder this spices..

  2. I love love love Theeyal.. :) My friend brings this for rotis and I enjoy it every time :) I have also posted Theeyal recipe during my very early days :) Thanks for bringing some nice memories :)

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