Skip to Content

Darn Delicious Beef Fry, Kerala Style Irachi Ularthiyathu

Spicy beef fry or beef roast is a traditional dish from the South Indian state of Kerala. Cubed meat is cooked with spices till tender and roasted in a mix of onions, spices, and herbs till each morsel gets a caramelized coating of the spice mix. This dish is usually served with flatbreads and a great way to share a drink or two with friends. Gluten-Free, Dairy Free


Nadan Beef Ularthiyathu or kerala style beef fry

Beef recipes are not something that one normally associates with India. Rightly too, it is hard to find beef in most states of India, and in some places, the sale and consumption of beef might even be illegal. There is one state that defies this norm – my beloved Kerala. We love cows and everything about them – milk, leather, and beef.

Parotta and beef fry is one of the most sought-after meals in local eateries. Though it is usually called beef fry, the more appropriate name will be beef roast. There is no frying involved and the dish is slow-roasted giving it the mouthwatering caramelized spicy flavors. In the local language, it is Beef or erachi Ularthu or Beef Ualrthiyathu.

Beef and Kerala Cuisine

Parotta and Beef fry is one of the hot-selling items in the makeshift fast food stalls all over Kerala. It was a treat relished by us during the college days and still is one of the favorites. Unlike curries, this is a dry dish where the spices coat the meat perfectly. Think of these as tiny kabobs on the stovetop. Plenty of onions and curry leaves add to the flavor. Oftentimes bits of coconut come to the party as well.

There are many memories associated with this dish – from uncle S buying these from the “tattukada” to a strictly vegetarian friend sneaking it from another friend’s lunch box. The latter was kind of an enlightening moment – good food is a great leveler.

Beef fry in a pan and a plate with flat breads and beef.

If you order it from a restaurant or fast food stall in Kerala you get a fiery dish, which many natives will tell you goes well with a mug of beer or toddy. Teetotalers prefer it with just parotta or pathiri and the health-conscious ones pair it with chapati (whole wheat flatbreads). Malayalis are partial to alcohol. It helps us forget the problems like the incessant rains, the countless hartals ( protests demanding closure of business), power shortages, and the like as well as celebrate the big and small things in life. So it won’t be unusual for us to share a plate of this with just a mug of beer or coconut toddy.

Ingredients For Beef Fry

Beef, onions, ginger, garlic, spices, curry leaves, coconut slices, peppers – these are the ingredients in this recipe.

Ingredients for Beef Fry

So these are all the essentials that you need minus the coconut oil.

Beef: Stew meat, chuck roast, or almost any kind of meat can be used in this. It works great with lamb/goat as well.

Oil: If you do not have coconut oil use any neutral oil, but I strongly recommend coconut oil. It adds a certain caramel, nutty flavor that rounds out the spices.

Spices: The dish can be made without them, but a little bit of Garam Masala or its component spices take it up a notch. This recipe uses fresh ground spices, but you can substitute homemade garam masala or a good store-bought one. Look for a brand that has fennel and star anise and not too many other flavorings.

Onions: In the traditional version pearl onions or shallots are used and many purists will swear by it. But regular red onions or even the yellow ones will taste great. Just don’t leave out the onions.

Curry leaves, Green Chilies, Coconut Slices: All these 3 give the dish its classic south Indian flavors. Birdseye chilies are the preferred ones, but use what you can find. Of all these coconut is the ingredient that I often leave out. The dish will taste good without any of these, but it won’t be quite the same.

A plate with flatbreads, beef fry  and a few slices of cucumbers and onions

How to Make Kerala Style Beef Fry or Beef Roast at Home

The recipe here is spicy but in a more manageable way. So if you are not a fan of spicy foods or not planning on imitating Adam Richmond or the current spice champs, just gloss over the green chili part of the recipe.

Strictly speaking, nothing is fried here, and it can be a very healthy lean dish when prepared with care.

The dish is made in two steps.

Step 1

Cut into small pieces, trim excess fat (some fat is OK ), and add a few seasonings and pressure cook with a little added water till done. For tender slices pressure cooking in manual mode for 5 minutes or until one whistle is good enough. When using tougher cuts of meat cook longer.

Step 2

In a frying pan heat the oil and add the onions, green chilies, curry leaves, etc. and sauté for a few minutes. To this add the cooked meat with the juices, spices, etc., and slow roast stirring in between until the moisture evaporates. The dish is done when there is no excess moisture and all pieces are coated in the spice mix.

Nadan Beef Ularthiyathu

The journey from the pressure cooker to the frying pan. The road to becoming sinfully delicious is all about heat, spice, and more heat!!!

How to Serve

As I mentioned earlier usually beef roast is served with flatbreads. Here are a few recipes to try

It makes a killer lettuce wrap and I like to top cucumber slices with it as well. But there is no requirement that you have to serve it with carbs or any other food at all just a mug of beer or toddy will do quite fine.

Picking up beef fry with a piece of chapati from a plate
Nadan Beef Ularthiyathu in a white bowl with few onion rings on top

Nadan Beef Fry

By Syama
This is a spicy beef dish from Kerala. Cubed beef is cooked with spices and slow-roasted in a mix of onions and spices. The dish gets its mouthwatering flavors from the caramelized onions and spices as well as copious amounts of curry leaves and green chilies
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4
Calories 275 kcal


  • Pressure Cooker / IP
  • Heavy Bottomed pan


  • 1 lb Beef cubed (500g)
  • 1 pinch Turmeric Powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp Ginger grated, or minced
  • 2 tsp Garlic grated or minced

For Spice Powder (See Notes)

  • 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
  • 5 Cloves
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 1/2 tsp Black Peppercorns

To Fry

  • 2 cup Onions/Shallots sliced thin
  • 1 Tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 sprig Curry Leaves
  • 3-5 Green Chilies to taste
  • 4 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Slices optional


  • Take all the ingredients for the spice powder in a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder, or use 1 Tbsp garam masala.
  • Cut the beef into 1/2 ” cubes. Add 1/2 tsp salt, ginger, garlic, a pinch of turmeric to the pressure cooker. Add about 1/4 C water and pressure cook for 1 whistle (or manual setting for 10 minutes with the vent sealed. Let the pressure release naturally.
  • In a frying pan heat about 2 Tbsp of coconut oil. When hot add the sliced onions. Saute for a few minutes, adding more oil if needed. Add the green chilies, curry leaves, and coconut slices. Once the coconut bits begin to brown and the curry leaves are bright green remove and reserve a few for garnishing later.
  • Add the meat masala or the garam masala along with the coriander and chili powder. Reduce heat and cook for a minute until the aromas fill the air.
  • Add the cooked beef along with the juices. Mix well and cook till dry over medium to medium-low fire. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Stir occasionally to have the masala coat the meat evenly and to prevent the pieces from sticking to the pan and burning. If needed add a little more oil.
  • The dish is done when no moisture remains and oil seems to separate from the meat. Turn the heat off. At this point, if you like you could tilt the pan and drain the excess oil. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the reserved curry leaves and coconut.


  •  Stew meat or chuck roast is perfect for this dish. If using a tough cut add 1 tsp of vinegar to the beef while pressure cooking.
  •  Instead of fresh ground spices, you can use Garam Masala or South Indian Meat Masala as well.


Calories: 275kcal | Carbohydrates: 8.5g | Protein: 35.7g | Fat: 10.2g | Saturated Fat: 5.1g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Potassium: 35.7mg | Fiber: 2.5g | Sugar: 2.8g | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 22mg

Important: Nutrition Values are estimates. Actuals vary based on ingredients and serving size.

Tried this recipe?Mention @Oventales or tag #Oventales on Instagram

No, there  was  no toddy or  beer  to serve  with  this  time .. Keeping  it   healthy 😉

Interested in more Kerala recipes? Try these

Recipe Rating


Thursday 27th of April 2023

Very nice..

Sunil Nair

Monday 26th of July 2021

Wish the text was properly proof-read. Whats "crated" ginger and garlic in the Ingredients list??


Saturday 31st of July 2021

lol, that is an ode to the errors that escape 3 rounds of edits, rewrites, and proof that human eye is better than any automated system. Thank you for pointing it out, Sunil. Fixed.


Monday 12th of October 2020

Thanks Guys, Your Recipe Was Too Fantastic. Me and My Family Loved it. I Will Share your Rrecipe with my friends.