Home » Non Veg Recipes » Non Veg Curry Recipes » Tomato Salna Recipe (How to Get the Original Roadside Parotta Salna Taste)

Tomato Salna Recipe (How to Get the Original Roadside Parotta Salna Taste)

by Jayashri
tomato salna featured 2

Are you craving for some roadside food?

Are you looking for that exact recipe on how to prepare roadside salna at home?

Are you so tempted to prepare salna but have no vegetables at home except onions and tomatoes?

Here you go, read further to know how to prepare this tomato salna or the roadside salna at home.

Let’s get started!


What is Tomato Salna?

Tomato Salna, also known as plain salna or empty salna is a thick, tomato based curry or gravy or kurma.

Salna is how it is referred to by the people of Tamilnadu. This Plain salna is a popular dish in Madurai, Tamilnadu. Every hotel or restaurant in Madurai serves this yummy tomato salna or empty salna along with parotta, chapathi, biryani etc.

roadside salna with chapati

This yummy Tomato salna is very simple to prepare as it requires only a few basic ingredients available in our kitchen.

Be it Tomato chaalna or Plain salna or empty salna, it all differs in the way it is prepared. But for all of these recipes, onion and tomato as the base ingredients excluding the masala ingredients.

tomato salana plain salna empty salna

Other Salna varieties:

Vegetable or veg salna – You may add in some chopped carrots, beans, potatoes, cauliflower, green peas, capsicum or other vegetables of your choice too.

Mushroom salna is prepared using chopped mushroom pieces alone instead of vegetables or you may also add the mushrooms along with other vegetables of your choice.

The non-vegetarian salna varieties like Chicken salna is prepared by adding few chicken pieces to the tomato salna while adding the sliced onions and is cooked until chicken pieces are soft.

Whereas, mutton salna is prepared by adding mutton pieces or chunks with the onions while preparing tomato salna and is further pressure cooked until it becomes soft.


tomato salna ingredients

Key ingredients for preparing original roadside parotta salna

  • Stone Flower (Kalpaasi in tamil)
  • Fried gram (Pottukadalai in tamil)


For months now, I have been trying to prepare the Original Salna recipe but I would say I achieved only 80% of the taste. (Usually when I prepare any kurma or salna varieties, I make sure to add dry roasted fennel seeds due to its aroma. But somehow the original taste kept evading for this recipe.)

One day, my mom asked me to try adding stone flower while dry roasting cloves and fennel seeds, and fried gram while grinding the masala paste.

To my surprise, the dish turned out YUMMY! It tasted exactly like the Original Salna served at any roadside food cart (aka thallu vandi in tamil).

Without second thought, I wanted to share this dish with all of you so everyone can enjoy it at your home (especially during times of lockdown).


Video Recipe: How to prepare original tomato salna


Before we go into the step-by-step procedure to prepare tomato salna, let’s look into the types of salna or regional specific salna varieties.


Types of Salna (Food and/or Regional Specific)

Kaiyendhibhavan Parotta Salna

Kaiyendhibhavan means any small roadside food stall in a pushcart or mobile van. It is more like a fast-food experience in open streets.


Biryani Salna Recipe

Biryani Salna recipe varies slightly in texture compared to tomato salna. Biryani salna is prepared by grinding all the masala and other required ingredients. It is further cooked until a thick gravy consistency is achieved.

Briyani salna is also known as biriyani shorba or sherva. It doesn’t contain any vegetables or meat (served plain).


Potato Salna

Potato salna is prepared by just adding in potatoes chopped in small biteable pieces (cubes) in the tomato salna (this recipe) or empty salna.


Idli Salna

Idli salna, as the name says, hot spongy idli/idly is served with tomato salna or plain salna. The salna could be vegetarian or non-vegetarian salna or just plain salna.

Tomato Salna/Chicken salna/Empty salna has always been our breakfast recipe on all Sundays. The bland taste of idlies when eaten with salna, complements well, fills your stomach and heart. I would always give this food combination thumbs-up even in my dreams.


Idiyappam Salna

Idiyappam served with any salna variety is known as idiyappam salna.

Idiyappam, or also known as string hoppers in English, is a yummy, delicious dish prepared using rice flour.

These string hoppers or idiyappam goes well with tomato salna, empty salna, potato salna, chicken kurma or any other kurma varieties.


Salem Parotta Salna

Salem parotta salna is another regional specific salna recipe. I’m not very sure of this recipe, but I heard it’s prepared by dry roasting all the grinding ingredients including coconut, onion, tomato and other spices. It is further cooked along with chopped onions, tomatoes and vegetables or meat (if any).


Tirunelveli Parotta Salna

Tirunelveli parotta salna, also known as nellai parota salna is yet another version of salna recipe. This regional specific salna is a rich, thick white gravy or kurma served with parotta, chapati or biryani.

The key ingredients in Tirunelveli salna are cashews, coconut, bay leaf and cardamom. Cashews are soaked in warm water and ground to a paste along with coconut and kept aside. It is finally added with sauteed onion, ginger garlic paste, green chillies, vegetables (if any) and cooked until the raw smell is gone.

This gravy is white as they add green chillies instead of chilly powder and tomatoes being optional.


Another Best side dish for Chapathi or Parotta

empty salna_1.2.1
Click Here to learn how to prepare Empty Salna or Plain Salna


Egg Kothu Parotta using Empty Salna or Tomato Salna

Egg Kothu Parotta.mp4_snapshot_05.19_[2019.12.05_18.29.08]
Yummy Egg Kothu Parotta using Empty Salna or Tomato Salna – Click Here for the recipe


Tomato Salna goes well with:

  • Parotta/Paratha/Barota
  • Chapati/chapathi
  • Roti
  • Naan
  • Biriyani varieties – Mutton Biryani, chicken briyani
  • Ghee rice
  • Jeera rice
  • Coconut milk rice/thengai paal saadam
  • Idiyappam
  • Aapam/appam
  • Dosa
  • Idly/idli
  • Wheat dosa/godhumai dosa


Step-by-Step Procedure to make Tomato Salna

Step 1: Dry Roasting

  • In a tadka pan or normal kadai- dry roast cloves, fennel seeds and stone flower on medium high flame.
  • Dry roast until the ingredients turn brown, and as you get the aroma.
  • Turn off the stove and keep it aside until it cools down.
dry roast ingredients tomato salna

Step 2: Preparing the Masala

  • In a blender/mixer – add diced/grated coconut, ginger, garlic, fried gram, chilly powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and all the dry roasted ingredients (fennel seeds, cloves and stone flower).
  • Add little water and grind to a smooth paste.
  • Add more water if required to make it smooth.
  • Do NOT add water all at once.
  • Keep aside.
grind masala tomato salna
tomato salna grind ingredients
tomato salna masala paste

Step 3: Preparing the Curry

  • Pour oil in a kadai and allow it to heat – medium high flame.
  • Add the mustard. Let it crackle.
  • Once the mustard crackles, add the sliced onions and salt (adjust to taste).
  • Saute until the onions turn golden brown.
tomato salna saute onion golden brown
  • Add the curry leaves and combine well.
  • Now, add in the sliced tomatoes and combine well.
  • Cook until the tomatoes turn mushy.
  • After sauteing for a minute, the tomatoes turn soft.
  • Gently mash the tomatoes with the back of the spatula or spoon.
plain salna add tomatoes
  • Now, pour in the masala paste and add the required water.
  • Do NOT add too much water.
  • Allow it to boil on medium high flame until the raw smell of the masala goes.
add masala paste plain salna
add water let boil plain salna
  • Once the desired consistency is achieved, turn off the stove and garnish it with some chopped coriander leaves.
coriander leaves
  • Serve it with some hot chapati or parotta.
chapati with salna
chapathi with plain salna
roadside salna with chapati


Recipe Card: Tomato Salna | Original Parotta Salna Recipe


Tips & Tricks

  • Add salt along with onions, to help cook faster.
  • Dry roast fennel seeds, cloves and stone flower instead of adding them raw while grinding.
  • You can add a small piece of cinnamon, 2-3 cardamom and bay leaf too before adding sliced onions. [doesn’t make too much of a difference, even if you skip it]
  • Do NOT add too much water as it can reduce the taste of the dish.
  • In case the water quantity is more, then you can add some coconut paste and little garam masala. Or you can simply add in some rice flour mixed in water to the gravy and cook until the raw smell is gone and the consistency is perfect.


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


Related Posts


Latest Posts

You may also like

Leave a Comment