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Ulli Theeyal ~ Pearl Onions in a Roasted Coconut and Spices Sauce | A Kerala Recipe

Author Manju


  • 1 cup pearl onions peeled
  • key lime sized ball tamarind
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • To roast and grind to a paste
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 5 pearl onions peeled
  • 4-5 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • For tempering
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 7-8 curry leaves


  • Soak the tamarind in 1 cup water, squeeze out the pulp. Strain and pour into a deep pan. Repeat with ½ cup water two more times.
  • Add the turmeric powder, salt and the pearl onions and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat till the pearl onions are cooked and soft.
  • Meanwhile, roast the coconut along with the red chillies, pearl onions and coriander seeds over low-medium heat till the coconut becomes light brown in color throughout. Keep stirring, as you don't want part of the coconut burnt and part of it not toasted at all.
  • Let it cool and grind to a very fine paste in a food processor or an Indian style mixie, with a little water to help grind better.
  • Pour this out to the pan on the stove with the tamarind and pearl onions.
  • Mix well and let it come to a boil.
  • Heat the coconut oil for tempering, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add curry leaves and pour it over the curry.
  • Serve hot with rice.