Side Gravy for Biryani



Most restaurants serve a  free side gravy as accompaniment for biryani which taste  ridiculously amazing.. We usually get these in small portions packed in tiny cartons and enjoy licking every last bit of it.  I was trying to replicate something similar and ended up with this recipe which I can guarantee  restaurant quality. This gravied curry shared here is  all -purpose, can be made with or without meat, goes very well with any kind of biryani / pulao / paratha / idli / dosai or even with plain basmati rice.  My version shared here is very very spicy, you can literally feel your tastebuds jerking!!

Restaurant Style Gravy / Chalna / Salna / Side Gravy / Biryani Side / Saagu / chaaru / Gravied curry



Ingredients- 1
2 nos Dry red chili
1 tbsp Corainder seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Black peppercorns
1/2 tsp Fennel seeds
1/2 ” inch Cinnamon stick
2 nos Cloves
1 no Green cardamom
1 petal Star anise


15 nos Small onion
2 nos Green Chili
5 cloves Garlic
1 inch Ginger


2 nos Bay leaves
1/2 tsp kasuri methi (Dry fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp Kashmiri Chili powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
5 nos Curry leaves
2 tbsp Coriander leaves (chopped)
3 tbsp Oil
2 nos Tomato
1 tsp Fresh ground coconut paste
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Water (only if necessary)


First step is to make a spice powder. Combine all ingredients in table-1 and dry grind to fine powder. (Dry roasting is not required)

Second step is to finely mince all the wet ingredients. This is really the key…. make sure you mince the onion, green chili ginger and garlic. If that’s a hard task then put them in the mixie along with ground spice powder and just use the pulse setting twice. (Do not add water, just run the mixie to mince them)

Heat oil in a pan and add bay leaves, dry fenugreek and curry leaves. Let them sizzle, then add the ground paste and keep frying over medium flame for about 1o minutes. You have fry till the onion mixture gets rid of the raw smell. Now add the chopped tomatoes, red chili powder, coriander, turmeric powder and salt. Cook for another 10 minutes. The gravy will look slightly watery at this stage.

Keep sauteing until the oil separates. Once the gravy looks dark brown as shown, you are ready to add any kind of meat or veggie.

Veggie options: Mushroom / Potato  or  Long Green Peppers suits well for this gravy.

Non- Veg options: Bony parts of Chicken or Mutton, Prawn/Shrimp, Boiled Eggs.

After adding any one of the options above make sure you include little water to cook them thoroughly.

Last part is to add the teaspoon of ground coconut paste which gives good consistency. Simmer for few minutes and garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Gravy consistency can be either adjusted with water or coconut paste.

1. For thick dark brown gravy – No coconut paste.  Just add 1/4 cup water and simmer.

2. For  light brown gravy – 1 tsp of coconut paste + 1/2 cup water.

3. For thin yellowish gravy – 4 tbsp coconut paste + 1 cup of water.

Serve with biryani, boiled eggs and raita. Bookmark this for your Special Sunday Meals.




This recipe will yield just  enough gravy to feed 3 adults.  You may adjust with water or coconut milk  if you have few unexpected guests.

This version is very very spicy, so please cut down on the chilies if you are feeding the kids.

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52 comments to Side Gravy for Biryani

  • Deep

    Came out really well… Tried with chicken n egg.. Awesome receive.. Many thanks… Shared this link to my sis aswell

  • Srividhya

    Great recipe. This is the only dish that I make alongside parota now. :) i fried the onions n garlic to avoid raw smell and added pepper salt fried eggs..

  • sridevi

    mullai, all ur recipes are awesome. whenever i try grinding spices even
    for chettinad receipes am getting kasappu taste.. same happened for
    this dish..can u pls help.

    • Sridevi, if the masala is not cooked or if the onions are not cooked fully then you get this Kasappu taste. 1. Make sure the ground onion is cooked well till you get rid off the raw smell. 2. Always try to use small onions that way they are not as strong as the big onions. 3. Do not grind the onions to a fine paste, mince it. 3. Grinding raw spices can cause kasappu, make sure its sauteid well, slow roasting and then grinding can help too. 4. Too much fresh fenugreek can cause this effect. Hope this helps. Thanks.

  • sam

    it have helped me lot thanks for this useful recipe





  • Jahnavi

    Great recipe! Its hard to find one for the serva online for some reason. Tried this yesterday with some variations- I also blended all the ingredients (incl tomato), poured the whole thing into about 4 spns of oil. I let all the water evaporate until oil separates and then added some mutton stock and water and let it simmer for a few more minutes. Turned out great! Thank you! Only note is that I could have added more cloves/ cinnamon

  • navya


  • k.dhanabal

    most aroma wonderful good gravy

  • Anu

    Hi Mullai,

    Tried this today…however i cld not find fenugreek leaves and omit it out from the list and it turn out well..thanks for the recipe, it was easy..

  • Leila

    the best gravy ever! very tasty too thank you

  • Tried this recipe and it came out really well :) thanks for this wonderful recipe.

  • Cappuccino

    Hiii Mullai, it’s been a long time. Tried this again today, as usual yummy !! Thanks great Chef !

  • Ravi

    Hi Mullai,

    Are the 15 “small onions” mentioned in the Ingredients-2 chinna vengayam/sambar onions or shallots that you get in american/chinese grocery stores. It looks shallots in the second photo. Please clarify. Also, I don’t have kasuri methi leaves. Will not using it make any difference to the taste?

    • Ravi,
      Sambar onions/chinna vengayam which is also called as pearl onions can be used, shallots (typically in American grocery stores are slightly big in size) are fine too… if they are really big then cut down to 7-8 count. You can even use regular onions (1 count) but you have to fry for longer time to get the raw smell off it,if you mess/ under cook then it spoils the whole dish. Kasuri methi is for added flavor, skip if you don’t have. Hope this helps. Thanks.

  • Dianasaravanan

    simply super

  • JS

    a BIGGGGG Thanks ….Looking for this recipe for a long time ….
    Mullai IS THE BEST !!!

  • vjbunny

    You are the reason why I became a member here I hv tried sm of ur recipes They are awesome dear… I will try this too

  • Manic

    Is it really 15 small onions in table 2 or do you mean shallots?
    Excellent gravy!

  • Dear Mullai,
    I tried the gravy. It was so tasty. Please, can you teach me how to make same masala taste channa which they serve in Chennai. Thanks for sharing your talent with us.


  • Priyanka

    very very tasty… i only added paneer its was mind blowing the whole house is aromatic …. thanks a lot

  • Divs

    Hi Mullai , Today i tried this recipe , came out good, but the gravy was dark brown in colour. may be you know why ?

  • gracie

    I did this gravy it was awesome.but I did not get the thickness,can i know why?

  • Hema Gopal

    Its one serious Chalna recipe.. Loved it. Although toned it down to suit kids..Thanks much.

  • Neethu

    Hi Mullai,

    I tried out this recipe today.. It came out great! Thank you so much ..

  • Hi Mullai, this gravy is spicy n delicious..prepared it with egg n enjoyed it with Roti’s n white rice..thanks for the recipe!

  • Glitter

    Can I use big red onions instead of small? If so, how many should I use?

    • Glitter, you can make with regular onions too but then you have fry little longer to get rid of the raw smell. I would say about 1 cup of chopped onions should be good for this recipe. Thanks.

  • Shyama

    This is a super dupper hit recipe. I tried with potato and peas and got a 5 star from everyone who ate it. Thank you very much !

  • prada

    Dear Mullai Akka, Your like my god mother for cooking.. wishing to see u one day:)

  • Sudha S

    Hi Mullai,

    Tried this with mushroom and had with Roti and also rice..came really awesome.much appreciated at home.
    Measurements ellam pakka…Adhu eppadi ippadi kalakureenga..?
    I have always tried ur recipes with the measurements u specify and it has never gone wrong..always hit only…thanks for ur great work.,..

  • khushi

    can we use this gravey for paneer sabji as well…

  • Nirupama

    Hai Mullai
    I am Nirupama , Your site is very useful for the beginners and also aragurai samayal like me..Weekly Once or twice i am trying ur dishes, came out very well.. that too your dishes looks very tempting and delicious to cook and eat… Thats shows ur passion in cooking. i cant find more spicy fish curries. if u can kindly upload.
    Thanks a lot Mullai
    Keep going

  • Anitha Ravindran

    hi mullai,

    Today i made paneer paratha, vegetable biryani and the side gravy of the biryani, chana masala and pakoda for dinner party. Everything came out superb. I little bit scary to invite friends for lunch, now i thought i am good in cook because of u. I am specially thanking u for ur wonderful work.

    Now a days if i tried anything new means my hubby isn’t scary because i told him this is mullai special.

    Thanks a lot

  • Cappuccino

    Mullai, tried and cameout superb. Had with rice and dosas sema taste. Perfect for biryani’s…Thanx again for posting it for me dear.

  • Thamizh

    Made the side dish yesterday. It was amazing Mullai. We had it for Idlis. Added milk and water to adjust the gravy consistency.

  • jlakshmi

    Thanks Mullai, always wanted to make this gravy and mine was never close to the restaurant taste. Sure to include this next time I make Biriyani. Going to add some cooked Mutton elumbu

  • Tanuja

    Pictures look pretty good. But, gravy has way too much of oil.

  • Rohit

    Thank you. I’ve been looking for this recipe for years! I will try it for sure.

  • This site is useful for the beginners just like me. thanks a lot………………..

  • Vaishnavi

    Mullai Ma’am,

    I hosted a party on sunday for 10 guests and most of the recipes were yours. Did Palak Paneer, Zunka, Veg Biryani from your version and the accolades that I got were great. I shared your site as the source. Oops…a bit late on this kurma but never mind…will do this during the next party as a side for biryani…..Thanks a lot for your hard work and passion…


    thanks a lot Mullai,it looks tempting,will try tomorrow

  • Cappuccino

    Mullai i’m really glad that you posted this recipe especially for me…Thanx a loooooooooot. Will try sooooon. Thanx again dear.

  • hema

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAmazing will definitely try and psot the results.

  • Cap, Ithu ungalukkaga!! Neenga keta all -purpose kara saramaana kuzhambu. I know that you are vegetarian, but if you are by any chance an eggetarian then boiled eggs pair well with this gravy. Try and let me know. Thanks.

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