Here’s the deal: we have no beef with ‘Beef Ularthiyathu’, the dish that has sparked a row in Kerala when its state tourism department tweeted a picture and recipe angering the right-wing politicians who peppered it with communal colours.
Keeping this brewing controversy in the back burner, let’s dwell on the long-enduring appeal of this classic dish that’s any meat-lover’s delight.
Malayalis take their beef ularthiyathu – ‘chunks of beef, slow-roasted with aromatic spices, coconut pieces and curry leaves’ – seriously. Scoop those pieces of perfectly roasted beef with a flaky kerala porotta (flat bread) made with maida (all-purpose flour) and you may have just stumbled upon culinary heaven.
Any restaurant in Kerala worth its salt – be it a street food stall called thattukkada or a swanky posh eatery at a star hotel – is often judged by how well they nail this popular delicacy.
Truth be told, the seemingly scandalous tweet posted by the Kerala Tourism department which didn’t go down well with many right-wing believers triggered our hunger to find the best beef ularthiyathu in Dubai.
We take our beef seriously and here are a few restaurants in the UAE that serve up a cracking ‘beef ularthiyathu’:
Aaraamam in Karama
It’s the proverbial hole in the wall in Karama, but they take their BU (Dh16) seriously. The meat is perfectly tender and not chewy. Coated with a thick layer of spices and crispy curry leaves, this one is a keeper. It’s best combined with a kerala porotta or puttu (rice steamcake). The tiny slivers of crispy coconut pieces adds the crunch.
Tamarind Terrace near GPO, Karama
Their beef ularthiyathu (Dh20) is prepared in a Nasrani style and they use shallots and utilise every bit of the beef stock to add flavour to their roast. According to their chef Aniyan Kunju, their beef dishes are incredibly popular among their clients and they are cooked in traditional brass urali after the meat is pressure-cooked. There’s plenty of curry leaves and coconut oil to add to this legendary country roast.
“The secret to this dish are our native spices like pepper. We add mustards, shallots and even drops of vinegar … We don’t waste a drop of the beef stock either. Garnished with a lime wedge, it’s a winner. Though it’s time consuming to prepare, its taste is legendary and Malayalis find it irresistible,” said chef Aniyan.
It’s Malabar, Al Nahda
At Dh18, this one is a keeper. Their beef roast hits all the sweet spots. It’s spicy and earthy in flavour.
Malabar Express in Karama
The secret to a divine beef ularthiyathu is the way in which it’s sautéed to perfection. It’s a time-consuming dish to prepare, but the more it simmers the better the flavours seem. This restaurant has nailed it. You can taste the layers of pepper, chilli and garlic.
Calicut Paragon/Salkara in Karama and Dubai Internet City
There are several dishes on their menu that sparkles more than their beef ularthiyathu, but it’s still worth a try. They are consistent with their quality and this roast with their buttery ghee rice is an interesting combination to try.