But, when I got a fresh piece of Chena from Little India, I absolutely had to make theeyal so that’s how this happened.
Chena is a pretty popular Kerala ingredient and I love almost anything made with it. Its hard to get fresh chena in Singapore and usually the ones I see are huge and unlike back home, you can’t buy just 250gm by cutting off a chunk. You either take the whole thing or don’t.
Shallots or ulli, are another star in Kerala cuisine. Its mostly crushed and added to dishes or added whole in gravies like theeyal. Its a pain to peel but for theeyal, I ‘d go the extra mile any day!
Ulli theeyal is the most common kind of theeyal although pavakka (bitter gourd) theeyal, kathrikka (brinjal) theeyal and some others are pretty popoular too. I added chena for the extra kick.
Chena Ulli Theeyal
What I Used:
1 cup elephant yam / chena, cut into small cubes
1 cup shallots
1/3 cup tamarind juice (soak tamarind in warm water, extract juice, discard pulp)
Salt to taste
To roast and grind:
1 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
1.5 tbsp coriander powder / malli podi
1/2 tsp jeera / jeerakam / cumin Powder
1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper powder
A pinch of turmeric powder
A pinch of hing / kaayam / asafoetida
1 tsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
A few fenugreek seeds / uluva
2 dry red chillies
A few curry leaves
2 tsp (coconut) oil
How I Made It:
1. Heat oil for roasting the powders. Add coconut first and roast until dark brown (a minute short of burning). Then add all the powders, fry for another 10 seconds or so and remove from fire. Cool and grind first to a coarse powder and then add some water and grind to a smooth paste.
2. In a kadai, add the tamarind juice + 1 cup water, shallots and the yam. Bring to boil and add the ground masala paste. Simmer for 10-15 mins until desired consistency is achieved. I like this on the thicker side so I boil until its fairly thick but you can stop after 10 mins or so if you prefer. Add salt and mix well. Remove from fire.
3. Heat oil for tempering and add all the ingredients. Make sure that the fenugreek seeds don’t burn, it will turn the curry bitter. When the mustard seeds pop, you can dunk it into the curry. Mix well.