Spiced Grated Carrots, Kerala Style (Oleete)

The small side dishes that are arranged around a mound of white rice at the noontime main meal in Kerala are infinitely varied. They fall into a number of categories: wet or dry, with or without grated coconut, mild or chile-hot, sweet or tart. This dish is an oleete, a category of vegetable dish that is stir-fried, then moistened with yogurt as it finishes cooking. Oleetes are moist and soft-textured but have little sauce. This carrot version has a mild heat, as well as a little sweetness, and is very attractive when served mounded on a dark plate.


  • 2 tablespoons raw sesame oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • About ½ cup minced onion
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger or ginger mashed to a paste
  • 2 green cayenne chiles, slit lengthwise and seeded
  • About 10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 3 to 4 medium carrots, coarsely grated (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • Coarsely ground black pepper (optional)
  • About ½ cup plain yogurt, preferably full-fat


  1. Heat the oil in a medium heavy skillet or a wok or karhai (see Glossary) over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the mustard seeds and partially cover until they pop, then add the onion and turmeric and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the ginger, chiles, and curry leaves and stir-fry until the onion is very soft, about another 5 minutes.
  4. Toss in the carrots, salt, and pepper, if using.
  5. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes, or until the carrots are very soft.
  6. Turn the heat to very low.
  7. Add the yogurt and stir for a minute or so to warm the yogurt through and blend flavors; do not allow it to boil.
  8. Serve in a shallow bowl.


Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent


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Spiced Grated Carrots, Kerala Style (Oleete)