Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ulli Thakkali Varatharacha Curry / Onion & Tomato in Roasted Coconut Gravy

Since coming to my mother's place, cooking has been on a low. Mom is completely in charge here, so I decided to feature some of her recipes which are mostly traditional Keralite recipes. And like most mothers, she also does not usually have exact measurements. But she caught on quick and suggested tips to add in the write-up especially for non-Mallu cooks. Today's recipe is one such curry recipe that you will see in Malayali households - Ulli Thakkali Varatharacha curry or translated - Onion and Tomato in a roasted-coconut-paste gravy. Typically in Kerala, coconut is either ground fresh or is roasted and then ground for the curry base. This one here - Ulli Thakkali Varatharacha curry has coconut and coriander seeds, roasted to a medium golden color and then ground for the curry. On to the rest of the recipe....

Onion / Ulli- 1.5 cup
Tomato / Thakkali - 1 cup
Coconut, grated - 1 cup
Coriander seeds - 2 tbsp or Coriander powder - 3 tbsp
Tamarind pulp - 2 tsp
Turmeric pwd - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli pwd - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 to 2
Dry red chilli - 2
Oil - 1.5 tbsp
Salt as per taste
The measures given here for the onion and tomato is post cleaning and is sliced in case of onion and diced into pieces. Measure for both coriander seeds and powder is given in case one or the other is not available. Traditionally, coriander seeds is used.

Heat a shallow pan on low flame and add the the grated coconut. Keep stirring the coconut to evenly roast it till golden in color. Do not let it brown. Traditionally, the grated coconut was grated with a few drops of oil so it does not catch the bottom of the pan and burn. But today, with non-sticks and well tempered iron pans, you don't need to add oil. Add red chilli powder to the roasted coconut after taking the pan off the heat and stir altogether for a minute. If using coriander powder add it along with the red chilli powder to the roasted coconut and stir. Keep it in a bowl to cool.
If using the coriander seeds add it to the same pan and roast on low heat till the seeds change color and its aroma is released. Add it into the bowl with the coconut. Once cooled, grind it in a blender.
Heat a saucepan and add 1 tbsp oil and once it is hot add the onion and saute on medium heat till translucent. Then add the tomato and stir for a minute and add the tamarind paste, salt and turmeric powder. Follow it up with the ground paste and a cup of water and give it one boil. Check the salt and if more water is needed in the curry and adjust as needed. Add a few curry leaves in the curry and take it off the heat and keep covered. Heat a separate pan for tadka / tempering and add the 0.5 tbsp into it. Once hot add the mustard seeds and let it splutter then add broken red chilli pieces and the sprigs of curry leaves and stir it. Take it off the heat once the chillies change to a darker color and pour this whole mix into the curry and keep covered till ready to serve.

We have this Ulli Tomato Varatharacha curry with rice and a thoran or mezhuperatty.
My mother's recipe for Ulli Thakkali Varatharacha Curry goes to
Walk through Memory Lane originally by Gayatri's Cookspot

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