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Spicy curry | Dancing | Flatbread curry
Spicy curry | Dancing | Flatbread curry

Spicy curry | Dancing | Flatbread curry

Salna is a aromatic, flavorful spiced masala curry that is made with onion & tomato base, coconut, spices and herbs. This Salna is commonly made without vegetables & meat and hence also called as Empty Salna. Salna is a great combo with parotta and a popular hotel street side dish. Salna Recipe is explained here with step by step pictures and video.

salna served in a bowl with parotta on the back

The recipe for Salna shared here is a version commonly found in hotels and is highly recommended for trying at home. Salna is typically served generously with parotta and is enjoyed by those who enjoy bold spices and flavors. It is a perfect dish for those who love masala and spice.

About Salna

Empty Salna, Parotta Salna, Plain Salna, Chalna, Bucket Salna all mean one and the same. Salna is called by different names like the number of ingredients go for this recipe.

The term “Empty Salna” can cause confusion, as it is commonly used in non-veg hotels to refer to a flavorful gravy that has had meat added and then removed. This is a cost-effective way to enhance the taste of the Salna dish. However, for those looking to try Salna at non-veg hotels, be aware that it may not contain meat pieces. And for meat lovers, keep an eye out for this type of Salna. You can also make your own version of hotel-style Salna at home with this recipe.

Parotta Salna is a well-known street food and gravy found in hotels across Tamil Nadu. Unlike Sambar, Kurma, Kuzhambu, or any other Masala Curry or Vada Curry, Salna has its own unique flavor and does not resemble any of these dishes. Its taste and aroma are completely distinct.

salna in le creuset dutch oven

Salna tints between Kuzhambu & Kurma in taste & found a place in hearts of South India for savoring with parotta. The base of the gravy is made with freshly ground spices along with coconut and other aromatic spices.

Salna is a comforting dish for those who crave masala and desire a non-vegetarian flavor in their food. The recipe for Salna may be time-consuming, but I guarantee it will replicate the taste of street-side hotels, so give it a try and enjoy!

I have fond memories of the salna served at our college canteen. It was so delicious that my friends and I would often go back to the canteen after lunch just to eat parotta. A plate with two small parottas only cost 5 Rs and came with unlimited salna. We would dip the parottas in the salna and savor every bite. Those were the good old days. Nowadays, we can easily enjoy salna with pre-made wheat parotta.

At Sharmis Passions, we constantly experiment and refine our recipes, such as this Salna Recipe. I have tested it numerous times to achieve the perfect taste before sharing it here. Give it a try and share your thoughts on how it turned out!

salna ready to pour over hot parotta

Salna 2 ways

You have the option to prepare salna with or without vegetables. You can also create a plain salna and add boiled eggs to it.

  • You can prepare a delicious salna using only onion and tomato.

  • Veg Salna – Also called as Vegetable Salna here vegetables like carrot, potato, peas, beans along with soya chunks is added to salna. Without the extra step of oil float salna looks like this shown below.

Recipe for Salna – Hotel and Home Versions

The signature feature of Salna in hotels is the layer of oil/fat on the surface. This gives the gravy a more appealing appearance and makes it perfect for pairing with parotta. I managed to replicate this without using too much oil or fat. The key is to use less oil initially and then add kashmiri chili powder, heated with oil, towards the end to create the floating effect.

Mittu is a devoted fan of salna, but she has specific preferences. Many hotels tend to use more spices, resulting in a dominant masala flavor in the gravy, which she does not enjoy. This presented an opportunity for me to experiment with a hotel-style salna recipe. After multiple attempts, I finally achieved the perfect taste and now I have two variations of salna – a spiced masala version inspired by hotel style and a mild, home-style version with an abundance of vegetables and soya.


Other salna and kurma recipes

  • Mutton salna
  • Potato kurma
  • Vegetable kurma
  • Chana kurma
parotta and salna ready to erve


  • Vegetables such as onion, tomato, and fresh coconut form the foundation of this dish. For a medium level of spiciness, use the recommended amount of green chili, but feel free to add more for a spicier salna. To aid digestion, ginger has been included, while garlic adds flavor. For added flavor, temper with curry leaves and garnish with coriander leaves. Additional vegetables like potato, peas, carrots, and beans can also be used.

  • All types of spices and spice powders are essential ingredients in preparing salna. If you are missing any spices, it is okay to skip them, but make sure you have all the necessary spice powders for a hotel-style salna.

  • Additional ingredients: I have included cashews to enhance the flavor and thicken the sauce. If desired, you can omit the cashews and use roasted or fried gram, as is done in hotels.

Step by step guide on how to prepare Salna.

First, prepare the necessary spices and ingredients for grinding: 5 small onions, 1 green chili, 1 inch of ginger, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of poppy seeds, 5 whole cashews, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, 2 cardamom pods, 2 cloves, 1 inch of cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds.

ready with ingredients to grind first

Mix together all the listed ingredients and dry roast for 2 minutes until a pleasant aroma is released.

dry roast until transparent

Next, mix in 1 tablespoon of fried gram dal and 1/2 cup of coconut and sauté briefly before turning off the heat. Allow to cool down.

add coconut, fried gram dal

After it has cooled, grind it together with a small amount of water.

grind with water

Grind it until it becomes a paste with a slightly coarse texture. Then, set it aside.

make paste ready

Heat oil in a kadai and add the following ingredients for tempering: 1 tablespoon of gingelly oil, 1 teaspoon of stone flower, 1 star anise, 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1 green chilli, 1 bay leaf, and a few curry leaves.

temper for salna recipe

Add 2 onions, chopped finely, medium in size, along with 1 teaspoon of ginger garlic paste and the necessary amount of salt.

add onion,ginger garlic paste

8.Saute until golden.

saute till golden

Saute 2 medium tomatoes that have been roughly chopped.

add tomatoes

Cover and cook until soft, making sure there is no raw smell.

cook until mushy

Combine the following spice powders: 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala powder.

add all spice powders

Sauté the spices quickly, being careful not to burn them.

quick saute

Add 1 cup of water, stir thoroughly, and allow it to boil for a few minutes.

add water and let it boil

Add the coconut paste and the water used to rinse the mixer. Mix thoroughly.

add coconut paste

Thin the gravy and let it boil for a while. Ensure it boils thoroughly.

mix it well

Cook until the oil separates, as seen in the picture. Then, add coriander leaves to the plain salna. Your salna is now ready to be served. If you want a hotel-style presentation, follow the instructions below.

boil for few mins

To achieve the desired hotel-style appearance, follow these steps: Heat oil in a kadai and add kashmiri red chilli powder. Mix well and let it bubble for a few seconds. Then, switch off the heat. Avoid cooking for too long, as this can cause the spice mix to darken in color.

oil float

Mix the oil mixture into the gravy and stir lightly. Allow it to boil for 2 minutes, then cover and set aside.

add oil mix

Observe the oil that is floating on the surface.

salna recipe

The salna is now ready, designed to resemble a hotel-style dish.

empty salna recipe

Salna is prepared and ready to be served. Enjoy it with parotta or chapathi.

Expert Tips

  • Avoid overcooking the spice powders by quickly sautéing them for a few seconds after adding them, then continue to the next step.

  • .

    It is crucial to follow the dry spice measurements in order to achieve a well-balanced and flavorful salna according to the recipe.

  • To prevent oil from floating on top when served in hotels, do not follow steps 17.

  • The salna served in hotels is typically very spicy, so I have added cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom to complement the flavor. If desired, the amount of spices can be decreased.

  • Change the amount of water based on the thickness of the sauce.

  • Including soya chunks is entirely up to you, but I suggest adding them.

  • The texture should be slightly dense.
  • It also pairs well with chapathi, idli, or dosa, and adds great flavor.


  • You can prepare kothu parotta or kothu chapathi by utilizing this salna.

  • .

    You have the option to add your preferred vegetables. Include them after sautéing the onion and tomato.

  • Alternate option for non-vegetarians: Incorporate cooked meat into the dish and reserve it for future use to enhance the flavor of the gravy.

  • Include prepared lamb or chicken with the addition of fat for the mutton curry.

  • Include hard-boiled eggs to prepare Mutta Salna or Egg Salna.

Serving & Storage Suggestions

  • The most delicious way to enjoy Salna is with parotta, although it can also be paired with chapathi or wheat parotta.

  • Salna is a delicious side dish that pairs well with Biryani, Idiyappam, Ka lDosa, Uttappam, Pulao, Jeera rice, and Ghee rice.

  • The empty salna will only last for 1 day at room temperature due to the addition of coconut. However, refrigeration can extend its shelf life for an additional day. I do not recommend storing it for more than 2 days, even when refrigerated.


1.What is Salna

Salna is a delectable sauce made with a flavorful blend of onions, tomatoes, coconut, spices, and herbs. It is typically served with parotta, biryani, and utappam.

How can oil be made to float in salna without adding extra fat or oil?

Heat oil with kashmiri chilli powder at the final stage and add it to salna to make oil float on the gravy kist the way it looks in hotels.

Does Salna eat meat?

Unfortunately, this dish is not vegetarian if prepared as instructed. However, if you plan to order it at a hotel, be aware that they may add or remove meat.

Is salna only suitable for parotta?

No salna is great for chapati, biryani, pulao, uttappam, kaldosa, idiyappam, jeera rice & ghee rice.I make it for lunch with pulao and use it for dinner with chapati or kothuchapati or parotta.

I have too many ingredients, is it possible for me to omit any of them?

Since the empty salna is without veggies lot of masala & spices are added to get its moth watery taste. However, you can skip any of the spices if you not have stock of it but not the spice powders.

salna served in a bowl with parotta on the back

If you have any additional inquiries about this Salna Recipe, please email me at [email protected].
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Have you tried making this Salna Recipe? Please share your thoughts on how it turned out. Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @sharmispassions and use the hashtag #sharmispassions.

📖 Recipe Card



Recipe for Salna | Recipe for Parotta Salna

Salna is a fragrant and tasty spiced curry that contains a base of onions and tomatoes, along with coconut, spices, and herbs. This dish, also known as Empty Salna, is often prepared without vegetables or meat. It is a popular accompaniment to parotta and is commonly found as a street side dish in hotels. The recipe for Salna is detailed below with accompanying pictures and a video.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Keyword curry, curry recipes, Gravy, gravy recipes, roti sidedish, Side Dish, veg recipes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 3
Calories 225kcal
Author Sharmilee J


  • 2 medium sized onion finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.

  • salt to taste
  • water as needed

To cook and pulverize:

  • 5 nos small onion
  • 1 no green chilli
  • one 1 inch ginger
  • 3 big garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 5 nos whole cashews
  • 1/4 teaspoon jeera
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 nos cardamom
  • 2 nos cloves
  • 1 one inch cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fried gram dal
  • 1/2 cup coconut

To temper:

  • 1 tablespoon gingelly oil
  • 1 teaspoon stone flower
  • 1 no star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 no no green chilli
  • 1 no bayleaf
  • few curry leaves

For oil float:

  • 1 tablespoon gingelly oil
  • 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder


  • To start: prepare the necessary spices and other ingredients for grinding.

  • Mix all the listed ingredients and dry roast for 2 minutes until a pleasant aroma is achieved.

  • Lastly, include fried chickpeas and coconut and sauté briefly before turning off the heat. Allow it to cool.

  • After allowing it to cool, blend it with a small amount of water.

  • Pulverize it until it becomes a moderately smooth consistency, as shown. Then, put it aside.

  • For a stir-fry dish: heat up some oil and add in the ingredients listed under ‘tempering’. Allow it to sizzle.

  • Mix in chopped onions, ginger and garlic paste, and the necessary amount of salt.

  • Saute until golden.
  • Saute the tomatoes thoroughly.

  • Cover and cook until the texture is soft and there is no longer a raw odor present.

  • Blend together red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and garam masala powder to enhance the taste of plain salna.

  • Sauté the spices quickly, being careful not to burn them.

  • Combine 1 cup of water, stir thoroughly, and allow it to boil for a few minutes.

  • Mix in coconut paste and water from the mixer, and stir until well combined.

  • Thin the gravy before boiling it for a longer period of time. Ensure thorough boiling.

  • Bring to a boil until the oil separates, as demonstrated in the accompanying image. Lastly, top the plain salna with coriander leaves for garnish.

  • To achieve the desired hotel-style appearance, follow these steps: Heat oil in a kadai and add kashmiri red chilli powder. Mix well and let it bubble for a few seconds. Then, switch off the heat. Be careful not to overcook, as this will result in a darker shade for the spice mix.

  • Pour the oil mixture over the gravy and lightly stir. Allow it to boil for 2 minutes, then cover and set aside.

  • Observe the layer of oil floating on the surface.

  • The vacant salna is now prepared in a hotel-style.

  • The Salna is prepared. It can be enjoyed with parotta or chapathi.



  • Be careful not to overcook the spice powders. Once you add them, sauté for a few seconds before moving on to the next step.

  • It is crucial to follow the dry spice measurements in order to achieve a well-balanced and flavorful salna. Please stick to the recipe.

  • To prevent excessive oil from being present on the surface when served at hotels, omit steps 17 and 18 and continue accordingly.

  • I enjoy salna with parotta, but chapathi is also a good option to pair it with.

  • Moreover, you have the option to include any type of vegetable or protein in this dish.


Serving: 75g | Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 509mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1340IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 3mg

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