Live To Eat

Sleep ’til you’re hungry, eat ’til you’re sleepy!

  • Connect!

  • Sponsors

  • Subscribe!

    Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content..

    Privacy guaranteed. We'll never share your info.
  • Recent Posts

    Rest of Chicago
    A fabulous dinner at Willows Inn on Lummi Island
    Mutton Korma – Braised Goat in a Green Coconut Curry
    Parsi Mutton Biryani – Step by Step Recipe
    Spicy Rack of Lamb with Arugula Grapefruit Salad
    Huevos Rotos (Broken Eggs) and a Call to Action
    Parippu Vada (Deep fried Lentil Fritters)
    HDR Wednesday – Stormy Sunset
    Restaurant Review – Altura
    Spicy Pompano – Kerala Style Fried Fish
  • Categories

  • Kerala Beef Fry (Beef Ularthiyathu)

    Posted on | April 21, 2008 | 39 Comments |

    I can’t believe I still haven’t blogged about one of the most famous non-vegetarian preparations from Kerala, the good old beef fry! Succulent beef pieces cooked in freshly ground spices and sauteed dry with onions and coconut slices, this is one of those famous Thattukada dishes.

    Thattukada is Kerala’s version of a fast food joint. While the beef fry is not fast food, the fact that time works in favor of the flavors in this dish and it actually tastes better after reheating makes it an ideal candidate for the fast paced Thattukadas. Beef fry is normally served with hot Kerala Parathas at these places, and it used to be the cheapest non-veg dish in most restaurants when I was young.  I hear that things have changed now, beef is more expensive than chicken due to the reduced supply of cattle and wide spread chicken farming.

    My roommate and I used to eat out almost every day when we were in college since the hostel food was completely unpalatable. Some days we were totally broke, this beef fry used to be the savior those days. It was only 10 rupees a plate (about 25 cents), divide that by two, you can’t get anything cheaper than that! I still remember how good it was and how the slight sweetness of the fried coconut slices contrasted the heat from the spices. I don’t think I can ever recreate that exact taste, but over time I have come very close to the taste of that Thattukada beef fry.

    This is one of those dishes where you really need tons of curry leaves to get that authentic taste, but due to the curry leaves ban in the US, I had to make it without those.

    Kerala Beef Fry


    • 2 lbs beef cut into small cubes
    • 2 tbsp thinly sliced garlic pieces
    • 1 tbsp thinly sliced ginger pieces
    • 1 tsp fat free mayonnaise
    • 2 tbsp vinegar
    • 1/2 cup thinly sliced coconut pieces (available frozen in Indian grocery stores)
    • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
    • lots of curry leaves (not really optional, but I made it without these)
    • salt to taste
    • 2 tbsp oil

    To roast and grind

    • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
    • 10 dry red chillies
    • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
    • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
    • 2 cloves
    • 2 cardamom pods
    • 1″ cinnamon


    Heat a skillet and dry roast the ingredients under to “to roast and grind” section. Grind these to a smooth powder in a spice grinder or a coffee grinder.

    Place the beef pieces in a pressure cooker. Add the spice powder, garlic, ginger, coconut, mayonnaises and vinegar and mix well. Keep it marinated for about 15 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and pressure cook for about 8 minutes after the first whistle.

    (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, add about a cup of water and cook in a pan with a tight lid, occasionally stirring to make sure that the bottom doesn’t burn. Cook for about 20 minutes till the beef pieces are tender. )

    In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the onions and curry leaves. Add salt to taste and saute till the onions start to brown.

    Stir in the cooked beef mixture to the pan, and saute on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes till it is completely dry.

    Serve with some lime/lemon wedges. This goes best with cold beer. I love having it with white rice and yogurt.

    Note: This is a pretty hot dish. You can reduce the quantity of the chillies and peppercorns to tone down the heat.

    Category: Appetizers and Snacks, Beef or Veal, Good with Drinks, India - Kerala

    Privacy guaranteed. We'll never share your info.

    More like this

    Skirt Steak Salad with Blackberry-Mint Vinaigrette – Quick Fix Dinner

    Skirt Steak Salad with Blackberry-Mint Vinaigrette - Quick Fix Dinner

    January 10th, 2011

    I can't believe it is only the 10th of January, it feels like the Christmas holidays were ages a[...]

    Green Chili Chicken

    Green Chili Chicken

    October 3rd, 2010

    I have to thank Ms.Bong Mom for reminding me of this recipe.  A few days ago she asked her re[...]

    Nutty Chicken Wings

    Nutty Chicken Wings

    July 21st, 2010

    I have been staring at this picture for a few days now, just couldn’t come up with a better na[...]

    Tangdi Kabab

    Tangdi Kabab

    June 20th, 2010

    Once upon a time, a girl and a boy fresh out of college moved to a big city far away from home [...]

    Puff Pastry with Caramelized Onion Cream Spread (Vegetarian)

    Puff Pastry with Caramelized Onion Cream Spread (Vegetarian)

    December 20th, 2009

    Throwing a dinner party is stressful. How-much-ever one likes to cook, the day of the party will alw[...]


    39 Responses to “Kerala Beef Fry (Beef Ularthiyathu)”

    1. Miri
      April 21st, 2008 @ 10:49 pm

      I can’t digest red meat easily and usually stay away from it – but my friend’s cousin Mercy makes the best Syrian Catholic beef fry EVER!!! More than the beef , its the yummy flavour of curry leaves, coconut and spices that makes my mouth water!

      • manju
        July 30th, 2011 @ 5:29 am

        Does Beef Fry also have caste and religion (Syrian Christian Beef Fry)?

    2. Raaga
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 12:02 am

      I have eaten this (feels like another life) :-) and your post made me remember the taste… easter at my roomie’s home in Trivandrum!!

    3. sunita
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 12:54 am

      Sig, that looks delish :drool: …so there’s a curry leaf ban? :shock:

    4. indosungod
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 3:45 am

      Sig, I don’t eat beef but that dish looks delicious. Maybe our curry leaves come from a place different from CA or FL, I got some even yesterday.

    5. Swati Jain:Sugarcraft India
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 4:25 am

      I am a vegetarian Sig but this does look delicious..

    6. rachel
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 4:41 am

      Ahh…Now that is one authentic kerala meat recipe.. coconut slices and why are curry leaves banned in the US?

      I have a curry leaf plant in my very own kitchen :grin:

    7. Nags
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 5:27 am

      oooooh lovely pic! i dont eat beef but cant help thinking yumm lookin at that pic.

      even i cant believe u hadn’t blogged this one yet :D

    8. richa
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 6:33 am

      that must be one spicy dish :grin:
      and who can forget the hostel specials :wink:

    9. Revathi
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 8:41 am

      I dont eat beef but look a lot of mutton chukka fry !! :drool:

    10. rina
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 11:36 am

      That is a lovely enticing picture Sig. :( Flower): Yet another tasty meat fry. :razz:

    11. molly
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

      It looks traditional until the ingredient mayonnaise caught my eye – so that won’t make it traditional right? :razz: Anyways, what is with the mayonnaise? Was that something you stumbled upon or a happy accident?

      Hi Molly… Adding the mayo is a trick I learned from a friend long time ago…. it adds a bit of fat and moisture to the beef while cooking… You won’t be able to taste it, it is kind of like adding a little bit of yogurt to meat while cooking, but mayo won’t add any extra sour taste… Try it next time :)

    12. TBC
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

      We don’t have a curry leaves problem yet. I suspect we’re getting the stuff illegally… :mrgreen: :sealed:

    13. musy
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 2:52 pm

      Where’s the thattukada style parotta, girl? :drool: I have had food at such a joint once, but it was lip-smacking, totally yummy!

    14. Kaykat
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 3:24 pm

      I ain’t eating no beef, but the spices here sound *so* good!

      Did I say I’m honnggrrreeeeeee? :drool:

    15. Sandeepa
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 5:49 pm

      Hey how come you are not even jet lagged :eek:
      You are whipping up one delight after the other soon after landing

    16. sig
      April 22nd, 2008 @ 6:05 pm

      Hi all, thank you for your lovely words.
      Our local Indian grocers said that there is a ban on curry leaves. I have heard different reasons for this ban, starting from how unprofitable it is for Indian exporters to export curry leaves due to the diminished dollar value to detection of some pests in curry leaves shipped from Hawaii.

      Here is one link I found at Mahanandi. If any of you can still find curry leaves, stock’em up :) , and send me some too :razz:

      • Sam Kumbanad Tampa
        July 3rd, 2009 @ 11:51 am

        let me know how much curry leaves you need; we grow ‘em as fences for our back yard and when the wind blows, the whole neighborhood smells of kariapala…I am sure importing of leaves is banned; but there is plenty to go around for all the mallus in the US grown in many backyards in Texas, Florida and California.
        Your Tampa Chetan….

    17. sra
      April 23rd, 2008 @ 6:30 am

      Just tried a piece of beef recently – after many, many years. I’ve eaten only by accident :) My friend says I should eat this dish to get the real taste of beef!

    18. Kalai
      April 23rd, 2008 @ 8:24 am

      Wow, love the flavors in this dish. Will definitely try it with mutton sometime! :)

    19. Radhika
      April 25th, 2008 @ 12:25 am

      Love your blog and have tried many recipes from here.

      Where do you get coconut slices? and can I substitute grated coconut?

      Hi Radhika, the Indian grocery stores here in Seattle stock the frozen sliced coconuts. If you don’t have it, you can just skip it, don’t add grated coconut, it will change the taste completely.

    20. JZ @ Tasty treats
      May 27th, 2008 @ 10:10 am

      Great recipe Sig….I’ve been following this recipe two times in a row now! My husband who is a good non-veg citique loves it! But both times I cudnt get coconut slivers. They wud’ve tasted heavenly!!

    21. Mahe
      July 30th, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

      Looks like a great recipe. But what cut of beef should I buy for this. I tried with the steak cut but there was some bad smell. One of my friends suggested the beef stew pieces. But still the smell was there. I never had this strange smell when I had beef fry in Kerala. Is there any way to get rid of it?
      BTW I must tell you that the last time I tried beef fry, I was in Omaha NE. May be it’s the famous Nebraska corn-fed beef that’s causing the smell. I’m in the East coast now and may be it’s different here. I’ll try your recipe again and let you know how it turns out. Thanks a lot.

      Any stew meat cut would work just fine! And yeah, the corn fed beef smells different, but I think unfortunately most of the beef here in the US are corn fed. Try soaking the beef in yogurt for about half an hour and then wash it off, it will take some of the smell away… Good luck!

    22. albemuth
      August 11th, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

      This came out just perfect. Thanks for recipe and the detailed steps. Can’t wait to try some of the others you have posted. I got the beef at the local whole Foods store (stew pieces). Yes, there’s that “strange” smell that you don’t get back home. However, with all the spices in it – it got better the next day and was even tastier. My 2.5 year old just dug in with some porottas on the side.

      Thanks a bunch. Keep them coming.

      Glad you liked it! :) This beef fry is always better the next day :)

      • Ousapachan
        January 1st, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

        The best cut of beef will be Kobi beef if you can get hold of it or Angus will be the second best. Try it out and post it here.

        • Ousapachan
          January 1st, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

          Sorry ! posted it at the wrong place. It was supposed to be for the post earlier asking for the best cut of beef

    23. Anjana
      October 13th, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

      Loooooooooooooooved the dish – came out ta-da! Thanks a bunch.

    24. Tina
      January 29th, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

      Hi sigma…
      Im new to ur from kanjirappally ..endha recipe collections…ellathinum oru pakka kottayam style undallo….so happy to c u…fots ellam kidilan ayitundu..perfect.

    25. manoj nair
      June 5th, 2009 @ 5:03 am

      alright im gonna try this at home today .. Its gonna be boys night at my place n im gonna psyche em out .. wish me luck

    26. Archana
      June 7th, 2009 @ 6:28 am

      this was really easy to cook
      and it tasted really reakky good…..


    27. sajan
      January 26th, 2010 @ 7:22 am

      It is fantastic………..cant but think of the golden days
      i spent in Gods own country

    28. Balraj Bhasin
      August 26th, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

      I am wondering about the purpose of ‘fat free mayonnaise’ in this recipe.

    29. gamebreaker
      August 27th, 2010 @ 7:02 pm


      • leveena
        April 23rd, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

        u need to add little sour curd or vinegar to get yummier taste

    30. MA
      June 25th, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

      If you still wish for curry leaves, I can send you a whole branch….just let me know.

      Thanks for your recipes…I shall try some of these out and let you know. How I wish my mom could teach you a few of her delicious dishes and you could deliver these in your own style, with exact measures and such.


    31. christina
      August 21st, 2011 @ 7:03 am

      fantastic recipe!!! it came out so well the first time… and the mayo was a superb addition both to the taste and consistency!! thank you for sharing!