Salna (Empty Parotta Chalna)

5 from 2 votes

Salna (Empty Parotta Chalna) is a South Indian street-style curry made with onion and tomato as its base ingredients. This recipe is easy to make at home and requires only pantry staples.

Here are some more South Indian curries: Vegetable Stew, Veg Kurma, Mor Kuzhambu, Kadala Curry, and Moru Curry.

Plain Salna served in a bowl.
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They are not wrong when they say traveling shapes you as a person. Traveling exposes you to so many new experiences, perspectives, and cultures. I am very grateful that I could travel a lot in India and abroad; it truly made me the person I am today.

Whenever we travel to a certain place, I like to try the local cuisine. On our trip to Madurai, we went to Madurai Kitchen to try their parotta salna. The spicy coconutty gravy differed greatly from the North Indian curries or the Hyderabad salan. It had a unique taste that lingered.

About Salna

Salna (Empty Parotta Chalna, Plain Salna, Empty Salna, Veg Salna) is a street-style thin gravy famous in the Tamil Nadu state of India.

Going to Tamil Nadu, you will find street carts and roadside street food shops selling salna and hot parottas. A huge crowd gathers around the carts, relishing this humble combination. Restaurants sell this combination, too.

Empty Salna is a tomato-onion-based gravy with a prominent flavor from fresh coconut. It comes together in under 40 minutes and uses pantry staples.

It is very similar in color and consistency to a Hyderabadi salan or a biryani gravy, but its tastes are very different and unique.

Traditionally, it is served with flaky Malabar parotta, but I even enjoy this curry with appam, neer dosa, or ghee roast dosa.

Try my Chicken Salna as well.

Ingredients

To Make The Coconut Paste

Salna recipe uses a fresh coconut paste prepared with fresh coconut, fennel seeds (saunf), cinnamon (dalchini), cloves (laung), green cardamoms (hari elaichi), white poppy seeds, cashew nuts, and green chilies.

You can adjust the green chilies as per your taste.

Skip adding poppy seeds if they are not available.

Buy already grated fresh coconut from the freezer section of an Indian grocery store to save time.

For The Curry

To make the curry, you will need everyday ingredients such as oil, fresh curry leaves, onions, green chilies, salt, ginger-garlic paste, fresh tomatoes, and cilantro (fresh coriander leaves).

You will need whole spices like bay leaves (tejpatta), cinnamon (dalchini), cloves (laung), black peppercorns (kali mirch), and star anise (chakr phool).

To enhance the flavor further, add some spice powders such as coriander powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, turmeric powder, and garam masala powder.

How To Make Plain Salna

Make The Coconut Paste

Add the following ingredients to a blender.

  • ½ cup chopped or grated fresh coconut
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2-3 whole green cardamoms
  • 1 teaspoon white poppy seeds
  • 8-10 cashew nuts
  • 1 green chili
Ingredients to make coconut paste added to a blender.

Add ¼ cup of water and blend to make a fine paste.

Fine paste made.

Make The Curry

In A Pressure Cooker

Heat 3 tablespoon oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat.

Oil heating in a pressure cooker.

Add the following ingredients once the oil is hot, and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2-3 black peppercorns
  • 1-star anise
Whole spices added to the cooker.

Add the following ingredients.

  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1 cup of thinly sliced onions
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 green chili (slit into half)
Onions, curry leaves and green chilies added to the cooker.

Cook until the onions are slightly browned (4-6 minutes), stirring frequently.

Now add 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste and cook for 2 minutes.

Ginger garlic paste added to the cooker.

Add ½ cup of sliced tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently while cooking.

Tomatoes added to the cooker.

Add the following ingredients and cook for another minute.

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala powder
Spice powders added to the cooker.

Now add the ground paste you made earlier and 2 cups of water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and stir well.

Ground coconut paste, water and salt added to the cooker.
Mixed well.

Close the lid of the cooker and pressure cook for 2 whistles on medium-high heat.

Lid of the cooker closed.

Remove the cooker from heat, let the pressure release naturally, and then open the lid.

Check for salt and add more if needed.

Garnish with 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Ready plain salna garnished with cilantro.

In An Instant Pot

To make salna in an instant pot, press SAUTE mode and follow the steps until the cooker’s lid is closed.

Now press CANCEL and then press PRESSURE COOK.

Set the timer to 4 minutes at high pressure.

Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Then, manually release the remaining pressure and open the lid.

Pro Tips By Neha

Add a few mutton and chicken pieces to the salna before pressure cooking. Then either serve the salna with them or remove them and use them in other recipes. They add flavor to empty salna.

If you are a vegetarian, be careful when eating salna in a restaurant. Restaurants usually cook it with added chicken or mutton pieces, remove them, use them to make other dishes, and serve the salna plain.

You can also add vegetables like eggplant, gourd, carrots, potatoes etc to this recipe.

You can swap cashew nuts with peanuts or roasted gram.

I made this salna recipe in my 3-quart instant pot (or a 3-liter stovetop pressure cooker). If you want to scale it, use a 6-quart instant pot (or a 5-liter pressure cooker). The cooking time will remain the same.

To make this dish more inviting, temper it with 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon of Kashmiri red chili powder.

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Salna (Empty Parotta Chalna) is a South Indian street-style curry made with onion and tomato as its base ingredients. This recipe is easy to make at home and requires only pantry staples.
5 from 2 votes

Salna Recipe (Empty Parotta Chalna)

Salna (Empty Parotta Chalna) is a South Indian street-style curry made with onion and tomato as its base ingredients. This recipe is easy to make at home and requires only pantry staples.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

For The Coconut Paste

  • ½ cup chopped fresh coconut
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 2-3 cloves (laung)
  • 2-3 whole green cardamoms (hari elaichi)
  • 1 teaspoon white poppy seeds (skip if not available)
  • 8-10 cashew nuts
  • 1 green chili (chopped)

For The Curry

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 whole bay leaves (tejpatta)
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 2-3 cloves (laung)
  • 2-3 whole black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  • 1 whole star anise (chakr phool)
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1 green chili (slit into half)
  • 1 and ¼ teaspoon salt (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • ½ cup sliced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (fresh coriander leaves)
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Instructions 

Make The Coconut Paste

  • Add coconut, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, green cardamoms, poppy seeds, cashew nuts, and green chili to a blender.
  • Add ¼ cup of water and blend to make a fine paste.

Make The Curry

    In A Pressure Cooker

    • Heat oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat.
    • Once the oil is hot, add bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, black peppercorns, and star anise, and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
    • Add curry leaves, onions, and green chili.
    • Add ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until the onions are slightly browned (4-6 minutes), stirring frequently.
    • Add ginger garlic paste and cook for 2 minutes.
    • Now add tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently while cooking.
    • Add coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric powder, and garam masala powder, and cook for another minute.
    • Now add the ground paste you made earlier, along with 2 cups of water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and stir well.
    • Close the lid of the cooker and pressure cook for 2 whistles on medium-high heat.
    • Remove the cooker from heat, let the pressure release naturally, and then open the lid.
    • Check for salt and add more if needed.
    • Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

    In An Instant Pot

    • To make salna in an instant pot, press SAUTE mode and follow the steps until the lid of the cooker is closed.
    • Now press CANCEL and then press PRESSURE COOK.
    • Set the timer to 4 minutes at high pressure.
    • Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid.

    Video

    YouTube video

    Notes

    I made this salna recipe in my 3-quart instant pot (or a 3-liter stovetop pressure cooker). If you want to scale it, use a 6-quart instant pot (or a 5-liter pressure cooker). The cooking time will remain the same.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 186kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Sodium: 91mg, Potassium: 217mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 411IU, Vitamin C: 60mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 1mg
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