Nadan konju theeyal / Chemmeen theeyal / Shrimp in coconut & tamarind sauce

  Konju theeyal is shrimp and pearl onion/shallot in tamarind sauce.If you are someone who loves home cooked simple meals come along… 

Nalla konju theeyal ,amarakka thoran ,pavakka achar papadam and nadan kuttari chor 

Now, this is our granny’s favorite curry ,Konju theeyal and this recipe is brought to you from her.

She cooks with super precision , believes that a dish should have the right smell,color and taste .Granny prefers using only whole spices and grinding on stone ,she takes around 7 to 8 whole red chilies for the right heat and color now that is too much for me also she uses only whole coriander -she just throws a small fist full into the pan to roast.To this day if Ammuma  makes a curry it will definitely be the best.

At our place the fisher women bring fish door to door and sell that day’s fresh catch. 
From the moment the fisher woman calls out loud, “Konju venoo?”starts our day.She asks the most able bodied person standing anywhere there to help her place the big aluminium container full of fish on the ground from her head ,she pulls out a wooden cutting board and lays a hand full or two of shrimp and starts off quoting a price and we, all women gather around her be it young ,old,kid or maid all are simply curious to see the rest of the fish.

While granny and the lady have heated debate on the price we peek into the container to see what other fish she has ,how many are alive and so on…By then the bargaining is over .Granny ensures the fish is bought in an earthen ware specially kept aside for cleaning and that it is half filled with water when the fish is put in it.
There on the dish is closely monitored by granny saying the fish has to be cleaned well,did u de vein it properly ,Is the coconut fried to the right brown color no more no less…so goes on the conversation.
Do you think any nadan food is worth eating without some rustic memories attached to it.

Now let me push the memories to  side track ok coming back to me  , I don’t have the luxury of having fresh catch of the day here,have to be happy with frozen one.How about you?


Shrimp- 20 to 25 (medium size) 
Pearl onion-15 or more  
tamarind(Valanpuli)  -a small lime size piece soak it in 1/2 glass water. If using paste then-1 1/2 tsp

green chili – 2

To marinate the shrimp
Chili powder- 1 tsp(can use kashmiri chili pd also)
turmeric powder-1/4  tsp
salt a pinch

 To dry roast:
Coconut grated- 1 cup
Whole coriander seeds- 2 tsp
Whole red chili-2 to 3
fenugreek seeds-1/4 tsp
pearl onion -3

Coriander powder-2 tsp
chili powder-1tsp
turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
salt to taste

For seasoning:
Pearl onion -5 
whole red chilies -2
curry leaves- a few


1.The shrimp should be cleaned(shell and vein removed,washed well)apply lil chili powder , turmeric powder and salt and keep it aside to marinate till u do the dry roasting and grinding..

2.Heat a wide mouthed pan on medium to low heat and put coconut grated ,whole coriander ,whole red chilies,pearl onion sliced,fenugreek seeds and dry roast it
 (constantly stirring without letting it become burnt at the bottom of the pan,the coconut should get brown evenly.The whole curry’s worth lies in how well u dry roast)

Towards the end add coriander powder and red chili powder.

Now the whole house smells of the fragrant coconut..aahhaa…
Let the mix cool down .Then grind to paste adding tamarind water if using paste add it and some water too. 
3.Now heat the earthen ware ,pour coconut oil-2 tsp,
put the pearl onions,green chili and saute till the onions become tender.Pour the ground mix and let it simmer for 10 to 15 mts. Towards the end  add shrimp .Make sure it cooks well.Remove from flame when the gravy becomes thick .

4.Season with some pearl onions,whole red chili and curry leaves.I skip this step:).


Shrimp is tricky to cook.Either you cook for 3 to 4 mts and it becomes soft or if you leave it unchecked it becomes hard then u need to cook for more than half hr to bring its softness back.

If you are a beginner ,you can cook shrimp adding 1/4 cup water and microwave for 3 mts or cook separately in a small pan with half glass water.Keep an eye ok..don’t answer any phone call till u r done.:)and add to the curry just before putting off the flame.
Let the Konju theeyal sit for sometime for the flavors to sink in.Tastes better the next day.

If u have noticed  I have cut the shrimp into two, that’s just the way I like it and ammumma likes to cut it lengthwise I know.. I have never seen anyone do that.

The pictures are not doing justice to the real theeyal color.As the curry sits for a while it turns brownish in color.

Have you heard the love quote,”Whatever is yours is mine and whatever is mine is mine only.”When tusker and I got married I ensured the quote came true ,that includes tusker’s granny.

Will continue with more about her in coming posts you are sure to enjoy.


2 Replies to “Nadan konju theeyal / Chemmeen theeyal / Shrimp in coconut & tamarind sauce”

  1. Sopna Nair

    thanks a lot for the recipe.. i was looking for this for a quite while as i cud only just recollect the dish made by my grandmother. i made this last nite nd turned out well…….thanks again. r u frm southern side of kerala

  2. Meena Kumar

    Thank you so much Sopna.I am so glad to know that the theeyal came out well.
    My husband is from southern side,I learnt a lot of authentic dishes from his grandmother and mom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *