Pearl Onion Curry/Sambar Onion Curry Kerala Style (Ulli Theeyal)

Why not try something different as a side dish for your rice or roti today? 
Ulli Theeyal or Sambar onion curry is a simple and delicious coconut based curry dish from my native Kerala. This dish as the name suggests uses lots of pearl onions/sambar onions. And I promise the only difficult part of this recipe is peeling off the skin of all the tiny onions :P. Apart from onions other veggies like eggplant/brinjal and okra/bhindi are also used to make theeyal. The recipe was passed on to me by my mother and this was something I used to have a lot at home. I hope you will like and enjoy making this recipe.

This recipe serves 2 

1 cup (heap full) thinly sliced pearl onions/sambar onions
1/2 cup of fresh grated coconut
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of chili powder
1 1/2 tsp of coriander powder 
6 - 7 methi seeds or fenugreek seeds
About 1 tbsp of tamarind (soaked in 2 - 3 tbsp of water)
Water as needed 
Salt to taste

For tempering
2 tbsp of oil 
1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
4 -5 curry leaves


1) Heat a kadai or a non stick pan. First roast the coconut and methi/fenugreek seeds in low to medium flame. Roast until the coconut turns golden brown in color. 

2) Now add all the spices turmeric pwd, chili pwd and coriander pwd. Roast all the spices with the coconut for a min. Switch off the flame and remove the pan from the gas. Let it cool for few mins.

3) Transfer this mixture in a mixer grinder/blender. Add little water around 1/3 cup. Grind the mixture till it forms a thick smooth paste. Keep this aside. 

4) In the same pan add oil. When the oil is hot enough add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Now add the curry leaves and chopped onions. Cook the onions till they are soft and translucent. 

5) Squeeze the soaked tamarind (in the same water in which it was soaked) with your hands to form a pulp. Keep this aside.

5) Now add the coconut paste, the tamarind pulp, salt and 1/4 cup of water into the pan. Cover an cook for 5 to 10 mins. (I like the consistency of the curry a bit thick. You can make it thin by adding more water. Keep it thin if you are going to serve it with rice).

And thats it delicious Ulli theeyal/Sambar onion curry is ready to be served. Best served with rice or like me you can even try it with rotis/chapatis. :)

Until next time. Happy Cooking. :D

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