Theeyal with Madras Onion and Lady Finger, Ulli Theeyal
Theeyal with Madras Onion and Lady Finger

This week I fulfilled a life long dream of going to Kerala. Strange as it is, while I have travelled a great deal within India and across the world, I have never been to Kerala. To make up, I will be going to Kerala 3 times in 4 months this year. 🙂

My first glimpse of Kerala was from the airplane as it was landing at the Trivandrum Internatioanl Airport. All I could see was lush greenery and that was so refreshing. Just as I drove out of the airport, I got the first glimpse of the sea and Kerala’s famed beaches.

While I am a first time visitor to Kerala, I am no stranger to the famed culture of this lovely state. After all, some of my dearest friends are Malayalees. I especially love traditional Kerala food; Avial, Puttu Kadala Curry, Ada Pradaman, Puli-Inji, Thoran, Mambazha Puliserry, Erissery….

One of my all-time favourite Kerala dishes is Teeyal. Theeyal can be made with many vegetables; brinjals, lady finger, shallots/madras onions,…

This recipe uses both lady finger and madras onion.


  1. Lady Finger/Okra – 1/4 Kg
  2. Madras Onion/Shallots – 100 gms
  3. Grated Fresh Coconut – 3/4 Cup
  4. Coriander Seeds – 1 tbsp
  5. Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  6. Pepper Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  7. Fenugreek Seeds – 8
  8. Red Chillies – 3 or 4
  9. Sugar – 1/4 tsp
  10. Thick Tamarind Pulp – 2 tbsp
  11. Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  12. Oil – 2 tbsp
  13. Curry Leaves – 6 to 8
  14. Asafoetida – A Pinch
  15. Salt to Taste


  1. Cut the ends off the lady finger and cut into 1/2″ pieces.
  2. Peel the madras onion.
  3. Powder the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns.
  4. In a kadai, over medium heat, dry roast the grated coconut till it is golden brown.
  5. Add the red chillies and spice powder.
  6. Roast for 2 minutes.
  7. Grind the coconut spice mix with a little water into a smooth paste.
  8. In a kadai, heat the remaining oil.
  9. Add the madras onions and fry till they start to turn transparent.
  10. Remove from the oil.
  11. In the remaining oil, add the mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
  12. Add the lady fingers and stir fry till they are cooked.
  13. Add the fried madras onions.
  14. Add the ground coconut paste, turmeric powder, asafoetida, salt, and tamarind paste.
  15. Mix well and stir fry for 3 minutes.
  16. Add 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil.
  17. Add the sugar and curry leaves.
  18. Serve hot with steamed rice and appalam.


  1. I make this quite often as it is my favourite curry. The tamarind gives it some punch and takes plain rice to the next level when combined. Good to know you enjoyed Kerala! Keep visiting…I never get tired of it.

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