Empty Salna
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Empty Salna

Empty Salna  is a base gravy made either with meat or vegetables, often served as a side for parotta or biryani. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian, Tamilnadu
Keyword: basegravy, emptysalna, salna, sidegravy, streetstyle
Servings: 5 people
Author: Mullai Madavna


Ingredients (for grinding)

  • 8 each Dry Red Chilli
  • 2 tablespoons Coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Channa dal / Kadalai paruppu
  • 1 teaspoon Black peppercorn
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fennel seeds
  • 1/2 inch Cinnamon Stick
  • 3 each Cloves
  • 2 each Cardamom
  • 2 petals Star anise
  • 2 petals Kalpasi
  • 1 inch piece Bay leaf read notes
  • 1/4 cup Fresh grated coconut

Ingredients for saute & grind

  • 1 cup Onion preferably shallots
  • 1/2 cup Tomato
  • 2 each Green chilli
  • 5 cloves Garlic
  • 1 inch Ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Oil

Ingredients for gravy

  • 1 tablespoon Oil
  • 10 leaves Curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Coriander leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 1&1/2 teaspoon Salt kosker/kallu uppu
  • 1 cup Water adjust for gravy consistency


  • This is a 3 step process...
  • Dry roast all the ingredients from table - 1 except fresh coconut. Roast them till they are golden brown. Once the spices and dal roast well... add in the fresh grated coconut at the last stage and toast for few seconds... just to dry them out. (Do not roast for long time it will brown and spoil the dish) Let this cool a bit.
  • Meanwhile, in another pan... heat oil and saute onion, ginger, garlic and green chili table-2 for few minutes or until the onion becomes translucent. Add int he tomatoes and cook till they turn mushy. Once done... let it rest to cool a bit.
  • Now take all the roasted spices, coconut and the sauteed onion mixture in a mixer jar and grind to a fine paste. (You may add water to run the mixer) Keep this aside. Now heat oil from table-3 and season with curry leaves and add this ground paste along with turmeric powder, salt and water. Bring this to a rolling boil... simmer until desired gravy consistency and switch off! Garnish with coriander leaves & finish!


  • Serves – 3 to 4
  • Bay leaf is very strong when ground… hence using only a small piece, do not use the entire leaf.
  • For variation you may try copra thenga in the place of fresh coconut for a different style salna.
  • This is just base recipe with no vegetables or meat… you may include if you want or even add boiled eggs to it.