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Kerala Beef Fry

Kerala Beef Ularthiyathu (Beef Fry)

Around my teenage years, I went to my local grocery store to pick up some things for my mom. Mom was making Beef Fry for dinner and so I picked up some shallots, ginger, garlic, and, of course, some beef. The cashier starts ringing up my items. As she reaches to scan the beef, she confusingly looks at me and asks, “You’re allowed to buy this?” At first, I was confused. Then, I got it. She thought I was Hindu and couldn’t eat beef. Though this interaction wasn’t scarring, it was defining. Through this, I realized some people thought all Indians were the same. The same cultural traditions, same foods, same religion.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t always proud to be South Indian/Christian. We don’t have the flashy Bollywood movies, beautiful Hindu wedding ceremonies, or speak Hindi. I grew up with Onam being my major annual cultural event, only understood a little Malayalam, and thought Mammootty would be my husband. The point is, I wanted to be the type of Indian everyone knew. It just seemed easier. These days, I couldn’t be more proud to represent Kerala culture through food. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what gifts Kerala has to offer. Hopefully, through this Beef Fry recipe, you discover there is more to discover about India and all its wonderful traditions and tastes.

About the recipe

This Beef Fry dish is so simple to make and goes really well with a side of thoran and some yellow moru curry to go over matta rice. I’ve also included my recipe for making meat masala. Meat masala is similar to garam masala in that it is a blend of spices. The difference is that meat masala uses sweeter and smokier spices as opposed to garam masala which is more dry and hot. The balance of spices is important to any dish so I definitely recommend trying out my meat masala spice blend if you can. If you decide to make this recipe or have any questions about how to make it, head over to my instagram @thefamiliarkitchen so we can connect and I can see how it turned out for you!

Kerala Beef Fry

Kerala Beef Fry

Kerala Beef Ularthiyathu (Beef Fry)

Kerala Beef Fry is a classic South Indian dish made with a few simple spices, coconut slices, and curry leaves. It's pressure cooked then lightly fried in coconut oil.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Beef Fry, Indian Food, Kerala, South Indian Food
Servings: 6
Author: Ann Ittoop


  • Pressure Cooker


  • Beef (chuck roast), 2lb, 1" cubed
  • Coconut Oil, 3 tbsp
  • Shallots (6) or Red Onion (2), thinly sliced
  • Garlic Cloves, 3, minced
  • Curry Leaves, 1 sprig


  • Red Onion, 1, diced
  • Green Chili, 2, diced
  • Ginger, 2", minced
  • Garlic Cloves, 8, minced
  • Coconut Slices, 1/2 cup, (fresh or frozen)
  • Curry Leaves, 1 sprig
  • Salt, 1-2 tbsp
  • Meat Masala*, 1 tbsp
  • Coriander Powder, 3 tbsp
  • Red Chili Powder, 2 tbsp
  • Turmeric Powder, 1 tsp

How to Make Meat Masala

  • Green Cardamom, 1/4 cup
  • Fennel Seeds, 1/3 cup
  • Cloves, 1 tbsp
  • Cumin Seeds, 1 tbsp
  • Cinnamon Stick, 2
  • Dry Red Chilis, 8


Marinate the beef.

  • In a large bowl or in the pot of your pressure cooker, add all of the ingredients under the marinade section, then mix together. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Cook the beef.

  • After the beef is marinated, pressure cook the beef on high for 15 minutes (about 4-6 whistles). The beef should be tender. You will see a lot of moisture in your pressure cooker - do not discard this!

Fry the beef.

  • In a wide/deep pan (or uruli) on medium high heat, add the coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the shallots, garlic, and curry leaves. Saute until lightly golden then add in the cooked beef along with its juices. Continue to stir the beef around in your pan so that it evenly fries and encourages the moisture to reduce. This usually takes 8-10 minutes. The beef is done frying when all the moisture is gone and a gravy/spice coating has formed on the beef.


When I was a kid, one of the first things my mom taught me how to make was a hot cup of chaya (homestyle tea). It was like a rite of passage…and an invitation to her colorful, spice-filled kitchen. The most exciting part back then was daringly pouring the steamy, caramel-colored goodness from one steel cup to another so I could cool it down and get that classic, frothy texture to sit atop the tea. It’s a recollection of my childhood every time I do it. That same magical feeling still shines through my recipes, both new and old. There’s just nothing like creating a dish so full of evocative flavor and love. It’s what gives me joy and the inspiration to share this experience with you every day! It’s something I hope offers you adventure, a little piece of home, and maybe even something a little familiar.

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