Roadside Empty Salna recipe | the best Plain Salna | Secrets of hotel style salna | side dish for Parotta, Idiyappam, Briyani, Idli & Dosa

How to make roadside empty Salna | plain Salna for parotta with detailed pictures and step by step procedure.

Salna | Empty Salna | Plain Salna is a 'no meat', 'no veggie', onion-tomato based gravy infused with the right amount of spices. In the southern parts of India, especially in Tamil Nadu, the Empty Salna is called Parotta Salna as it pairs pretty good with Parotta. 

The secret behind the perfect roadside or street-style Salna has been a query for many people because of the unbeatable taste of the Salna that we get as a pair for Parotta from street-side hotels. Each region has their own way of preparing Salna and the taste from each hotel would differ but tastes awesome in their own way.

Probably, seeking the best Salna recipe may be a challenging task but I'm pretty sure that I have come up with the best of best Salna recipe. After so many attempts, I'm happy to end up with this super drool-worthy Salna recipe which best pairs with Parotta, Chapathi, Briyani, Idiyappam, Idli and Dosa.

Oh Goodness! The one Salna recipe that marries well most of the main courses that include Briyani and Parotta is here. To be honest, all the attempts gave awesome results, and the one that topped the taste class is what I picked to put here as the best Salna recipe post ever.

My mom told that the very famous hotel in her hometown has been buying groundnut packages from my Grandpa's shop since she was a kid. Do you know why? The groundnut packages are just to prepare their signature Parotta Salna recipe. Sounds exciting, right?! So, each ingredient in my Salna recipe has the role to do that helps end up with the perfect Salna recipe we want exactly.

Based on my experiments, there are certain dos & don'ts, and obviously, there lie certain unrevealed secrets to attain the taste of hotel-style Plain Salna for Parotta.

Know the Secret tips to get the Perfect Plain Salna:

  • Groundnuts - Yup! the groundnuts are the real hero in the Salna recipe. They make the Salna recipe super special with a unique taste and flavour.
  • Groundnut oil - though any oil can be used, using groundnut oil really enhances the taste of the Salna.
  • Mint Leaves - a few mint leaves are enough to make the Salna recipe more special. The mint leaves when added to the oil would seep out its flavour and is exactly what we want in our Salna.
  • Besan flour - a very little besan flour added to the Salna would make the Salna tastes very superb. Adding more besan flour could probably change the taste of the Salna.
  • Shallots/Small onions - small onions are the taste enhancer of the Salna recipe. I suggest adding them to get the tasty Salna.
  • Boiling Time - the more time you boil the Salna, the more taste the Salna would get. Cover with a lid and let the Salna boil for 15 minutes over low to medium flame.

Adding more oil would leave an inviting oil topping over the surface of the Salna. The floating oil may seem appetizing but not healthy. Even with less oil, the same Salna taste can be achieved without the floating oil on top. So, keep the oil within limits and enjoy the best-ever Empty Salna. One more thing to note is that a good Homemade Garam Masala lends an exact hotel-style taste to the Salna.

Furthermore, the besan flour can be added in two ways. You can mix besan flour with water and then add to the Salna while boiling. But, I prefer sauteing the besan flour in the oil as the resultant Salna was awesome without any taste flaws. Also, add more water to the Salna before it starts to boil. By the time the Salna boils, the flavours would be infused fully paving the way for the best Salna with the right 'neither thick nor thin' consistency.

So, the very flavourful, exact hotel-style Plain Salna or Empty Salna or Parotta Salna recipe is what comes through this post. Kindly stick to the secret ingredients and make sure the secret tips are followed to get the best Plain Salna recipe that not only goes well with Parotta but would pair well with Briyani, Idiyappam, Chapathi, Dosa and Idli.

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Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 to 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 to 40 minutes
🍴 Servings: 5 to 6

Roadside Empty Salna recipe

The drool-worthy, spicy and tasty Empty Salna recipe prepared with the right amount of spices that pair well with Parotta, Chapathi, Briyani, Idiyappam, Idly and Dosa.

What do you need? [1 cup = 200ml] 
 For Masala Paste:
  • Groundnut oil - 1 tbsp
  • Cinnamon stick - 1-inch
  • Cloves -2
  • Cardamom -2
  • Groundnuts -  2 tbsp
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
  • Ginger - 1-inch piece
  • Garlic - 8 cloves
  • Shallots - 10 to 12
  • Besan flour - 1 tbsp
  • Green chilli - 1
  • Fresh coconut - 1/3 cup

For Salna:

  • Groundnut oil - 3 tbsp
  • Cinnamon stick - 1-inch
  • Cloves -2
  • Cardamom -2
  • Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Onion - 1 (big-sized)(thinly sliced)
  • Tomato - 2 (medium-sized)
  • Mint leaves - 2 tbsp (chopped)
  • Crystal salt - 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder -1 tbsp
  • Garam masala - 1/2 tsp 
  • Water - 3 cups
  • Coriander leaves - a few
  • Masala paste
Steps Involved:
  • Roast all the ingredients that are given under "Masala paste" in a tablespoon of oil.
  • Cool them down and grind to a fine Masala paste.
  • In another pan, heat 3 tablespoons of peanut oil.
  • Add fennel seeds followed by cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom pods.
  • Add a few chopped mint leaves to the oil and saute.
  • Add the finely sliced onions and saute until translucent.
  • Add the finely chopped tomatoes and saute until mushy. Season with salt.
  • Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and mix.
  • Add the prepared masala paste and mix again.
  • Add 3 full cups of water and the Salna should be now in runny consistency.
  • Close with a lid and boil the Salna for about 15 minutes.
  • Add coriander leaves and mix.
  • The perfect Plain Salna is now ready to be enjoyed.

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For comforting the easy understandability of the recipe, the step by step detailed procedure, along with the picture is shown below:

Step-by-Step Procedure with Pictures

How to Make?

Making of Masala Paste:

  • Add a tablespoon of oil to a pan. 
  • Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and fennel seeds.
  • Add two tablespoons of peanut, ginger, garlic, one green chilly and some shallots. Saute for a while.
  • Now, it's time to add Besan or gram flour and 1/3 cup of fresh coconut.
  • Fry all the ingredients for a minute.
  • Cool down the ingredients and grind to make a smooth masala paste.

Making of Empty Salna:

  • Add 3 tablespoons of groundnut oil to a pan. Keep in mind, the groundnut oil would enhance the taste of the Salna. 
  • Add the whole spices and fennel seeds. You can also add Brinji leaf at this time.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of chopped mint leaves. Adding mint leaves to the oil help seep out the flavour and the salna taste would reach the next level.
  • The sliced onions go in at this stage. Saute the onions until translucent.
  • Then the tomatoes go in. Season with crystal salt and then saute until the tomatoes turn mushy. 
  • Add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala and mix.
  • Add the prepared masala paste and mix well.
  • The three full cups of water go in at this time. The salna should be very watery.
  • Close with a lid and boil the Salna for about 15 minutes. The flavour infusion happens at this time that makes the perfect Salna.
  • Sprinkle a few coriander leaves while the Salna is hot.
  • The perfectly flavourful Salna with the right consistency is ready now!


  • Saute the onions and tomatoes well before adding the masala.
  • Boiling the Salna over the low to medium flame for about 15 minutes is crucial in getting the best Empty Salna.
  • Keep the Salna very runny, so that it would end up in the right "neither thick nor thin" consistency after getting boiled.
  • Do not add more Besan or gram flour as the Salna taste may get affected.

Plain Salna! Best ever Salna!


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