Nupur’s A-Z of Indian Vegetables ~ I is for Irulli

onions and apple
sweet onions and tart apple

I am learning so much from Nupur’s idyllic A-Z of Indian Vegetables. I know the rules say the *dish* should begin with the letter of the week, but I like to try to find a veggie beginning with the appropriate letter — not always easy! In the process, I am learning alot about various languages of India. This week I came smack up against “I”. Let’s see…

Iceberg lettuce?? Goodness, no, awful stuff!

Inji? Well, I guess I could use ginger for just about anything, but still…

Then I came across a wonderful resource, and look what I found for “i” in the comprehensive dictionary of English and High and Low Tamil:

irulli, s. Onion, vengkaym, Allium cepa.

Oh ho! Onion! How easy is that 🙂

Fried Onions ‘n Apples

1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 large tart apple such as granny smith, cored and sliced

1 tsp butter or ghee (oil doesn’t give the best taste for this dish)
1 tsp panch phoron
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chile powder, or to taste
salt to taste

Heat the butter or ghee and fry the panch phoron till fragrant. Add the sliced onion and saute till golden. Add apples and saute till just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the turmeric, chile powder, and salt to taste.

That’s it! Serve hot or at room temperature and enjoy this Indian-spiced version of an old New England classic.

fried onions ‘n apples
fried onions ‘n apples – not photogenic, but tasty!


  1. indosungod said

    Linda Fried Apples and Onion looks yum.

    Irulli yes means onion, in colloquial Tamil it is called Vengayam and more Sophisticated literary Tamil it is called Irulli. It would have never struck me to choose it for ‘I’ list vegetable but how appropriate.

    Hi ISG — thanks for the lesson in proper Tamil. I admit, I was searching (reaching!?) for something with “I” — I appreciate your clarification 🙂

  2. shilpa said

    Linda , In Kannada also onion is called Irulli. I am happy to know you are learning Indian languages too along with Indian cooking. Was very happy to see a Kannada word.
    Apples and onions is a very new combo for me. Never tried it. Will have to try this sometime. Thanks.

    Hi Shilpa, I am happy to be learning a little of the different languages of India — so many, yet some similarties between them yes? Thanks for stopping by — hope you try this sometime 🙂

  3. Jai said

    I always knew onion as Venkayam. Thx for teaching a tamilian word to a Tamilian 🙂 I like tart apples, so will try this recipe.

    Thanks for your comment, Jai — who knew I could teach Tamil to a Tamilian 😉 If you try, I hope you enjoy! 🙂

  4. sia said

    linda… ~hugs~
    started learning indian language with cooking? 🙂 did u know that onion is called as irulli in kannada too(tamil n kannada r neighbours:) i was scratching my head for “i” word and here u r:) hats off to u girl. u rock:)
    fried onions n apple? what an unsual combo. will surely test this one;)

    Hi Supriya, between you and Shilpa I will be learning Kannada language too in no time 🙂 Thanks so much for your sweet words — hugs to you 🙂

  5. Asha said

    Yumyy! Erulli and apples.WOW!!! You are a genius lady!

    Genius!? haha… thanks, Asha! 🙂

  6. Mishmash! said

    Linda, quite surprised to see u using indian words! Good job ,dear 🙂 I liked this recipe a lot…coz i love adding fruits to salads and sometimes to spicy dishes too.I will try this soon. I dont like granny smith apples much so might use a different variety!


    Hi Shn, I’m glad you liked the recipe. I don’t like granny smiths to eat out of hand, but cooked they are pretty good. If you try, let me know which kind you use 🙂

  7. maneka nirmal said

    yum..yum..yum.. apples with onion is a new combination linda…sure it taste good.. thanks for the recipe. and i am glad that u r learning indian languages too… the ‘malayalam’ ( language for the state,kerala ) word for onion is-Ulli .

    Thank you Maneka! I’ll add that to the growing list of “onion” translations 🙂

  8. Arjuna said

    Loved the idea of combining apples and onions!
    On a separate note: Last weekend we went to Burlington to get groceries and I must tell you everytime I go there I usually hope that may be I would see you at the store 🙂

    Hi Arjuna, I always think of you when I shop in Burlington — wondering if I might see you too! Maybe in the warm weather we’ll manage to meet up there 🙂 Have you ever gone a little further to Waltham? I want to go back there and explore in better weather, too. Lots of stores there!

  9. Sharmi said

    hey ofcourse it looks photogenic!! very new kind of recipe though.


    Thanks Sharmi — it’s a new twist on a really old recipe, that’s for sure 🙂

  10. swapna said

    Very nice recipe linda.looks fantastic..

    Thank you, Swapna 🙂

  11. Sushma said

    Oh my God …After learning to cook Indian cooking so fantastically, now you are upto learning Indian Regional languages…I salute you for your passion and dedication…

    Lovely combination of apple and onion..never tried before but surely would..


    Thanks Sushma, what a nice thing to say 🙂 Hugs to you too!

  12. Trupti said

    Lady, you’re something else…..coming up with such stuff! Here’s your Gujarati 101:
    Onion in Gujarati -Dungli or Kaanda.
    Apple: Safarjan

    Yum-O: ekdam mast!

    good one, Linda! oh…guess what? we got dumped with 15cms of snow today. Ugh. hope things are warming up your way.

    Oh No Trupti! I am on the way up with a shovel. Then after we get you dug out, we can cook up another storm in the kitchen: ekdam mast, indeed! 😉

    Thanks for the Gujarati lesson, too!

  13. elaichietcetera said

    Wow Linda-
    There’s a clever hybrid dish! I bet it tastes really nice with those sweet-sour flavours going on. Irulli is Tamil and Kannada for onion….a pretty word! And Ulli in Malayam…another pretty word. If those are the words for onion, I wonder about the names of certain flowers…..
    I bet this would be good with a nice glass of punch….:-)

    Isn’t that fun, Elaichi… all these new words! Now, you bear a marked resemblance to someone I know under another name… hmm… 🙂

  14. Hema said

    My dear linda! You out-do yourself with every post! Look at all that we are learning from you now! I, by the way am a…ahem…Tamilian (Blush). Where do I go and hide my face?

    Irulli with apples look nice! irulli. irulli. I will go home and ask my husband if he wants irulli in today’s dal. I can see his jaws dropping. He always makes fun of my Tamil:) Thanks for the recipe and improving my Tamil vocabulary today:)

    Don’t hide Hema, we’d miss your lovely smile! You should check out that dictionary site sometime — it’s full of fascinating stuff. Hope you guys have a great weekend. Breadsticks looked great! 🙂

  15. sandeepa said

    You should take class in indian language for us 🙂 Irulli — never heard that and I really applaud you for the effort you take, so sweet of you 🙂

    Your herb garden is making me green now….

    Hi Sandeepa — I’d love to take an Indian language class! I hope all the little green guys make it. The methi is doing well but everything else is s-l-o-w going 🙂

  16. seema said

    Onions and Apples as a combo is so very new to me. Love your presentation. My hubby doesn’t like apples much. He is one among those who think “Apple a day keeps me away”. But I am sure he will love it this way. Gottu try it out.

    Hi Seema, I’m not crazy about apples on their own, but cooked with onions they do taste nice. In its original form it’s a pretty bland dish, but the Indian spices really perked it up. If you try, I hope you enjoy! 🙂

  17. Coffee said

    WOHOO!!!!!!! What a combo!!!!!! Onions and apples …………. never even thought of anything like this!!!!! Smart girl Linda!!! 🙂

    The Methi is going great……….. let it flourish and show us something nice from that too!!!!!

    Thanks Coffee — onions ‘n apples is a very old New England dish. I hope the methi turns out well enough for GBP 🙂

  18. pritya said

    Dear Linda, This dish is photogenic, as well as appetizing.Wow, Fried onions and apples! Really unique I must say. I guess that a lot would depend on the type and quality of the apple. It is such a lovely recipe – am going to try it out.

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