Monday, February 18, 2013

Ullithandu Thoran / Stir-fried Onion Greens


I love Namakkal, the town I currently live, for many reasons. One of them is the availability of fresh greens. You name it the town has it. In every nook and corner. At the ends of each street!
My nearest vegetable shop is a 3 minute walk away where all kinds of greens are sold throughout the day!


I found these onion greens and grabbed a bunch with primary thoughts of shooting the pretty flowers along with the long tender stem. They aren't spring onions but greens / stem of regular onions. The stem is fleshy, sturdy, fibrous  and crunchier than the spring onion greens, although they fall in the same family.

So, after shooting the pretty thing, I was naturally curious to know how they would taste, if cooked.

 I had come across Ullithandu or onion greens back in Kottayam, my native town, but amma hasn't tried cooking them. Anyway I was sure that Suma, amma's maid knew how to handle the greens.

I listened to her carefully on phone;

പൂവും തണ്ടിന്‍റെ മറ്റേ അറ്റവും വെട്ടി മാറ്റിയിട്ടു നല്ലോണം കഴുകണം. എന്നിട്ട് ചെറുതായി അരിയണം. ഒന്നോ രണ്ടോ  പച്ചമുളകും വെളുത്തുള്ളിയും കൂട്ടി ചതയ്ക്കണം. ഇതും, ചെറിയ അര മുറി തേങ്ങയുടെ പീര  , പിന്നെ കുറച്ച് മഞ്ഞളുപോടി , ജീരകപ്പൊടി, കറിവേപ്പില, ശകലം ഉപ്പ് എല്ലാംകൂടി അരിഞ്ഞ വെച്ച തണ്ടിന്‍റെ കൂടെ  തിരുമ്മി ചേര്‍ത്ത് വെയ്ക്കണം. ചീനച് ചട്ടി യില് എണ്ണ മൂപ്പിച്ച് കടുകുപോട്ടിചിച്ചിട്ടു ഒന്ന് രണ്ട് മുളകും പൊട്ടിച്ചിട്ട്  തിരുമ്മി വെച്ച ഉള്ളിത്തണ്ട് ചേര്‍ത്ത് വെള്ളം തളിച്ച് തട്ടിപ്പൊത്തി മൂടിവെച്ച് വേവിക്കണം. വേണെങ്കില് അവസാനം ഒരു മൊട്ട പൊട്ടിച്ചിട്ട് തോര്‍ത്തിയെടുക്കാം. 

I thanked her heartily and made a quick mental note of what she said , starting off straightaway..


Ullithandu Thoran / Stir-fried Onion Greens

Serves 4
Total Time Needed - 40 minutes (15 mins prep + 25 mins cooking)

A healthy bunch of Ullithandu /onion greens (washed and chopped; should yield  2 large cups, loosely filled )
1/3 cup grated coconut
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 cloves garlic
2 green chillies
1/4 tsp jeera powder
Salt, to taste

For seasoning; 2 tsps coconut oil, 1/4 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp urad dal and 2 red chillies broken into 2-3 bits each.


Wash the greens, chop off the flowers at one end and a bit of stem at the other end. Chop the greens not more than 0.5 cms length. Yes, your eyes burn just like chopping onions :) I had a good weep here :)
Crush green chillies and garlic.


Transfer the chopped onion stem in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, the crushed green chillies and garlic, coconut, turmeric powder, jeera powder, curry leaves and salt. Give a gentle mix , press down lightly and let it stand for 10 minutes.


Heat oil for seasoning in a pan, splutter the mustard seeds, brown the urad dal, and throw in the red chilly bits. Stir in the greens mix, sprinkle a little water and close the pan with a lid not allowing the steam to escape. Remember to keep the fire,'sim'.


Open the lid once every 3-4 minutes, sprinkling water if too dry, until the stem cooks soft. It takes some time as the greens are towards the fibrous side. They absorb good amount of water while cooking too. Mine got cooked after around 25 minutes demanding 3/4 cup of water sprinkled at intervals!

I had the heartwarming bowl of thoran with plain hot steamed rice for lunch. 


  1. This is very new to me Bharathy, Looks perfect and am sure must taste yum

  2. oh this recipe reminds my grandma.....she loves this and she uses coconut oil in the end....just like the way you said steamed rice is enough. i keep rice as side - this dish is that tasty

  3. Wow, i never knew about this.. Looks so pretty

  4. Have not heard of this or seen this!!! thanks for such an informative post!!!
    Ongoing Event - Dish it out - Lentils & Garlic
    Ongoing Event - Know Your Dairy - Cheese
    Ongoing Event - What is with my Cuppa?

  5. Hey Bharathy!! i ve never even dreamt of making a poriyal with vengaya thaal. This s outstanding..... and i love that picture of greens with flowers. by the way did my courier reach u?

  6. have never had just the stems on their own, but when leeks sometimes have them, i just chop them in... my fil always reminisces about the vegetables available at namakkal

  7. never made like this, love all the clicks and also loved reading the instuctions in malayalam,.. just sounds more authentic

  8. Interesting recipe. I went back to see if I read the post title correctly as at the first glance it looked more like beans poriyal. We get a lot of Spring onions, I will definitly try this for a difference:)

  9. A must try recipe... Simply awesome

  10. bharathy :) thorans are always tasty :) after coming to blogworld only i came to know :) tired many :) this photos are stunning !

  11. I love my town too and yes a walk in the evening down the road you see the vendors sitting with greens of variety, and the shops run a few metres long Sigh!
    These greens are recent fashion there I think, no one used to give it a second look earlier.
    I must try this stirfry when I am there next.

  12. What pretty flowers, Bharathy......I've never seen ulli thandu being used to make thoran.....sounds delicious, though.

  13. Love how you use local ingredients and bog traditional recipes :)

  14. I have never seen these. Where do you find all those gourmet stuff at namakkal?! This is why me and my mom buy vegetables at kumbakonam everytime we visit.

  15. Quite new for me too, pretty flowers,never had or heard about this ulli thandu.

  16. Wow..i thought its beans porriyal...lovely innovation and sounds delicious.

  17. Nice post! Ulli thandu is spring onion right? Never seen that with flowers! Will try this soon...

  18. look like a beans

  19. Those bunches of onion flowers look beautiful. Every year, I grow a few onions just for those flowers with their oniony smell. Now, I have a way to use the stems too. Thanks.

  20. It looks very tasty.... ha ha ha..