Home » South Indian Recipes » Empty Salna | (Step by Step) Plain Salna Recipe for Biryani, Parotta, Dosa!

Empty Salna | (Step by Step) Plain Salna Recipe for Biryani, Parotta, Dosa!

by Jayashri
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Empty Salna (also called as plain salna) is a tomato-based curry prepared without using any vegetables or meat, which serves as a side dish for parotta, chapati and dosa.

It only needs a few basic ingredients (like shallots/small onions, ginger, garlic, cumin, etc,) that are easily available in every household kitchen.

Today, I will show you how to quickly prepare empty salna which is tasty as well as a time saver.

Let’s dive right into it!

Empty Salna Plain Salna
Empty Salna Plain Salna

What is Salna?

Salna meaning gravy, in Tamil, originated from the South Indian city of Madurai, Tamilnadu, India.

Salna or Chaalna, as it is pronounced, is a curry or gravy prepared with Vegetables or Meat (chicken or mutton), onion, tomato, coconut and some powdered spices like turmeric powder, chilly powder, coriander powder and garam masala.

As far as I have known, it is one of the best side dish for Parotta, Chapati, Dosa, Idly usually served in roadside hotels and pushcart food vendors.

What is Empty Salna or Plain Salna?

Empty Salna (plain salna) recipe is prepared without any Vegetables or Meat, hence the name empty salna or plain salna.

It is a very popular roadside curry/kurma recipe.

It is a very simple, slightly spicy and tasty dish that is usually served along with parotta/paratha, kothu parotta, chapati, dosa, idly, etc, in most of the roadside street food shops.

Video Recipe: How to Make Empty Salna for Parotta, Chapati, Dosa & Idly?

I usually prepare this recipe for chapati, dosa or idly for our breakfast or dinner. Due to its simple preparation method, it hardly takes 20 minutes to be prepared.

I have always found this recipe to be the best in combination with biriyani varieties, idiyappam and kothu parotta too.

New to Indian Cooking?

If you are a beginner or someone who is not sure on how to get started in Indian Cooking, please click on the below links for STEP By STEP GUIDE.

1. Essential Indian Cooking Tools – A Complete Guide for setting up basic Indian Equipment for cooking.
2. Essential Indian Spices – A Comprehensive Guide explaining the basics of Indian Spices which are Important for cooking Indian Foods.
3. How to Cook Rice Perfectly – Learn to Cook Indian Rice using 2 methods – Pot and Pressure Cooker
4. 6 Essential Indian Flours – Essential Guide to learn about the most commonly used Indian Flours.

Best Dish Using Plain/Empty Salna – Egg Kothu Parotta

Speaking of kothu parotta, we can easily prepare Egg Kothu Parotta (shredded egg parotta) using this plain salna:

Step by Step Procedure to Prepare Empty Salna

In a kadai, add oil, cumin and fennel seeds. Allow it to crackle. Initially cook in medium flame.

Once they crackle, add roughly chopped ginger and garlic. Saute for 2 mins and then add green chilli, shallots and salt. Saute for another 2 mins.

Add some mint leaves and coriander leaves. This ingredient adds more flavour to the recipe. Saute for 2 minutes on medium flame.

Now add the roughly chopped tomatoes. Saute for 2minutes. Cover and cook for 2 minutes on low flame or until the tomatoes turn soft and mushy. Once it’s soft and cooked well, turn off the flame and let it cool completely.

Into a blender – add grated or diced coconut, poppy seeds, and the sauteed onion-tomato mixture. Grind it to a fine paste. You may add 50ml of water to make this a fine paste.

In the same kadai – add oil, whole spices such as bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise and cloves. Add mustard and allow it to crackle a little.

Now add some sliced onions. Saute it for 2 mins on medium flame until it turns slightly golden. Add some salt to taste.

Add all the powdered spices such as turmeric powder, chilly powder, coriander powder, and garam masala. Combine them well and saute for 2 minutes.

Put in the chopped tomatoes and saute well. Cover and cook until tomatoes turn soft and mushy. Add little water to avoid burning.

Pour in the blended masala paste into the kadai. Mix it well with the masala.

Add little water and allow it to boil for 10 minutes. Or cook until oil separates.

I have added a little ghee to give it an extra fragrance. It’s completely optional.

Serve it hot along with parotta, chapati, dosa or idly. I also serve it with ghee rice and jeera rice, believe me it tastes great.

Recipe Card: Empty Salna/Plain Salna Preparation

For more such interesting video recipes, check out my Three Whistles Kitchen YouTube Channel.

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Amritha October 30, 2019 - 3:52 am

Empty salna came out very well! 😀

Jayashri October 30, 2019 - 2:25 pm

Happy to know that you tried the recipe and liked it😊! Thank you so much👍

Teri Hawkes March 12, 2021 - 12:06 am

Hi! I love this but am allergic to coconut, is there a replacement or can I make without? thank you!

Jayashri June 20, 2021 - 4:48 pm

hi! you can try replacing coconut with 5-6 nos of cashews or may try it without coconut too. Coconut is added only to give you more gravy quantity and consistency. hope this helps you.


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