Theeyal – Chetti veetu murai / Theeyal – Chetti style

Theeyal is an exotic dish. Theeyal is of many types, the other ones being ulli theeyal and kondaikadalai theeyal of nagerkoil district. Chetti people of Madurai and surroundings make a different theeyal, using drumstick, raw banana and brinjal, which has lots of medicinal ingredients like pepper , cumin and garlic. Another version of theeyal is the thuvatta kuzhambu which is made during local pongal festivals using bitter gourd, brinjal, drumstick and raw banana and has dry ginger as one of the ingredients. Thuvatta Kuzhambu is mixed with rice and arai keerai and murungai keerai, with liberal doses of oil and ghee along with roasted sesame powder to make a flavourful dish  called keerai choru. This thuvatta kuzhambu and keerai choru are made in chetti house holds in virudhunagar on panguni pongal (festival for local rain goddess).Sometimes you can taste these recipes only during these festivals. They are not prepared on regular days. I assume that these recipes take a lot of preparation time and it is easy to prepare these on festival days when you have more helping hands in the kitchen. Other recipes of panguni  pongal include karuppati  pongal and karuppati kozhukkattai. Will post more on these recipes later. Now over to theeyal chetti style…

We basically need 3 powders for this recipe, which can be prepared a day in advance to make the recipe easier.

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Theeyal – Chetti veetu murai / Theeyal – Chetti style


Powder  1: Mel podi (means powder sprinkled on top)

1 tsp mustard

1 tsp jeera

1 tsp fenugreek

Like the panchporan of bengalis, I find that chetti house holds use the combination of the above three ingredients for seasoning.

Powder 2: Pori arisi posi (roasted rice powder)

½ cup boiled rice

Powder 3: Uluntham podi (urad dhal powder )

½ cup white urad dhal

For paste:

20 flakes of garlic

1 tsp raw mustard

2 tsp jeera

½ tsp pepper

3-4 sprigs of curry leaves

15-20 no. dry roasted red chillies (Adjust according to taste)

Other ingredients:

1 big lemon size of tamarind

1 raw banana

1 drumstick

3-4 brinjals

10-15 no. ulundhu vadagams (optional)

¼ tsp  turmeric powder

1 small lemon size of jaggery

Salt as required

For tempering:      

2 tbsp ghee

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard

1 tsp jeera

1 sprig of curry leaves


  1. Soak tamarind in 3 cups of water and extract the juice.
  2. For powder 1 – dry roast all the ingredients and make it into a fine powder.
  3. For powder 2 – Dry roast boiled rice till crisp and make it into a not so fine powder (rava/sooji like consistency).
  4. For powder 3 – Dry roast urad dhal till you get a nice aroma and make it into a powder of rava or sooji like consistency.
  5. For paste –Roast the red chillies with a drop of oil. All the other ingredients are added raw. Wet grind all the ingredients into a smooth paste.
  6. Cut the raw banana and brinjals into ½ inch thick round pieces. Cut the drumstick as you would do for any other curry.
  7. Deep fry the ulundhu vadagams in oil and keep aside.
  8. Now mix the ground paste to the tamarind juice along with salt and turmeric and allow it to boil.
  9. Add the vegetables. Keep the flame in medium mode.
  10. After the vegetables get cooked, add the ulundhu vadgams. Add the jaggery too.
  11. Now add the powders one by one to the gravy, constantly stirring so that you don’t get any lumps. An alternate way is to mix the powders separately in water without any lumps and then add it to the gravy.
  12. After adding the powders you may find that the gravy is getting thicker. Add water if necessary, so that the final consistency is a little bit thicker than sambhar.
  13. Do the tempering with mustard , jeera and curry leaves in 2 tbsp ghee and 1 tbsp of oil. The ghee adds a special flavour to the theeyal.
  14. Theeyal can be had with rice, ghee and dhal as an accompamiment, with rice alone or as a side dish to curd rice. It even tastes good with idli and dosa. It stays well for the next day even without refrigeration.

October 22, 2013. Tags: , , , . chetti veetu samaiyal, Curry/Gravy, Festival special, Healthy Recipe, Sidedish.

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