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Theeyal is a traditional and typical dish from the state of Kerala, India featuring burnt coconut and spice masala that is usually dark brown in color. Theeyal means a burnt dish. Theeyal gets its color from browning of coconut and also from another ingredient and tamarind.
In some parts of Kerala Theeyal is a part of the traditional Sadya menu. There are various types of Theeyal like the paavakka theeyal, potato theeyal, ridge gourd theeyal etc. The baby onions Theeyal is one of the most popular and all time favorite to many in Kerala.
Theeyal is a Kerala dish and taste very delicious with rice. It goes well with idly, dosa, appam and chapattis. Theeyal is quite similar to the Sambar another popular South Indian dish.
Theeyal is traditionally made with a spice mixture consisting of roasted coconut, coriander seeds, dried red chili and fenugreek. All these spices are freshly ground to a paste and cooked in tamarind water with vegetables. When completely done it looks like a rich medium brown gravy and is normally mixed with rice. Vegetables commonly used for preparing the Theeyal includes Pearl onion or Shallot, Bitter melon, Potato, Eggplant, Okra, Zucchini and Raw Mango. Making of Theeyal takes a bit of time and is not one of those dishes that is made in a hurry.
Theeyal is cooked especially during special occasions like the Vishu festival or sharing a traditional Sadya (feast) that consists of sweet, salty, bitter and sour dishes served on banana leaves. Theeyal is tangy and little spicy to taste. Ulli Theeyal (small onions or shallots) and chena theeyal are the most common kind of theeyal cooked in many homes of Kerala.
For preparing the Theeyal, firstly soak tamarind in ½ cup warm water and extract the juice from it and keep aside. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a small pan or kadai and sauté coconut till it turn light brown in color. Add red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and fry stirring continuously until it emits a nice aroma. Add little turmeric powder and mix well. Stir fry for about 2 to 3 seconds and keep aside to cool. Grind all this ingredients to a coarse powder. Be careful while frying these ingredients thus preventing from burning the masalas.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil and add mustard seeds, curry leaves and whole red chillies and allow it to splutter. Add shallots, asafoetida, salt to taste and fenugreek powder into it and sauté for a while on medium flame. Add tamarind extract into it and allow it to boil for 2-3 mts. If necessary add water and then add the freshly ground masala powder and sugar into it and simmer for further 4-5 minutes. Switch off the stove and serve hot with steamed rice.
Theeyal would taste great for all those who love eating tangy and spicy food. The flavors of the freshly ground masala makes this dish highly aromatic and exotic. Do try this recipe and enjoy the traditional flavors of this dish.
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