Chalna is a popular Tamilian dish that is had mainly with parotta (again, a tamilian take on north Indian paratha). It is also known as saervai in Chennai. Chalna is also used as an ingredient for kothu parotta in restaurants. It is mainly added to compensate the dryness of parotta.
SalnaBack in my home state, Chalna served in restaurants is watery but mine is a little bit thick. I personally like to have it with dosa as well. Chalna poured over shredded parotta is a common sight in restaurants back home and having it like that tastes so good 🙂 There are different varieties of Chalna; plain, vegetarian, non-vegetarian etc. The recipe I had given here is plain. In vegetarian Chalna, potato is added and in non-vegetarian version, meat (chicken or mutton – mainly bones) is added.
SalnaThe Chalna recipe that I had given here is the end product of numerous trials and errors and is the best version to date, guaranteed! So, do try this wonderful recipe in your kitchen and let me know your experiences.

Recipe type: Breakfast / Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
For the powder:
  • Oil - 2 drops
  • Coriander seeds - 1 ½ tbsp
  • Cumin seeds -3/4 tbsp
  • Red chillies – 4 nos
  • Whole green chilli – 2nos (don’t cut)
  • Curry leaves- 6 to 7 nos
  • Cinnamon stick - 1 “
  • Fennel seeds- ½ tsp
For the Paste:
  • Oil - ½ tbsp
  • Big onion - 1
  • Shallots - 2 nos
  • Ginger - a small piece
  • Garlic - 2 cloves
  • Poppy seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Cashews – 3 nos
  • Green chillies – the same above sautéed ones.
  • Ripen tomato – 1 (roughly chopped)
  • Grated coconut – 1 ½ tbsp
Other ingredients:
  • Gingelly oil – 2 tbsp
  • Cinnamon – 1”
  • Clove -1
  • Fennel seeds – 2 pinch
  • curry leaves – 6 nos
  • turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • salt as required
  • Chicken – ¼ kg
  • Water – 1 to 1 ½ cup
  • Chopped cilantro for garnishing
Step 1:
  1. Heat oil in a pan and add in coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chillies, whole green chillies and curry leaves one by one. Sauté for 40 seconds. Add in cinnamon and fennel seeds. Give a quick stir and switch off the flame.
  2. Remove the green chillies and keep aside. Allow the above mixture to cool and make a powder.
Step 2:
  1. Heat oil in a pan and add in roughly chopped onion, shallots, ginger and garlic. Sauté for few seconds. Add in poppy seeds and cashews and green chillies (the same above sautéed ones). Give a stir and add roughly chopped tomato. Sauté for few seconds and switch off the flame. Allow it to cool and make a paste.
Step 3:
  1. Grind coconut separately to a fine paste.
Step 4:
  1. Heat oil in a small pressure cooker and add in cinnamon, clove and fennel seeds. When they start to sizzle add in curry leaves and give a stir.
  2. Now add in the ground onion paste and sauté for few seconds. Add the ground masala powder along with turmeric powder and salt and sauté until the color changes and oil separates.
  3. Add in the chicken pieces and stir well until the paste is well blended. Add water and mix well. cover the lid and cook for a whistle. When done add in the coconut paste and bring it to a boil – at this stage you will start to notice oil in the rim. Check salt and switch off the flame. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
  4. Serve hot with plain parotta or roti or kothu parotta or idli or dosa. Enjoy!
Vegetarians can add vegetables instead of chicken or simply make plain chalna. I tried both and it tasted heavenly.


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  1. Banu ANBALAGAN says:

    hi ……thot of doin tis recipe for today lunch…but I think u dint mention abt wen to add the spice powder….can u pls tel me…….all ur recipes are wonderfullllll…….keep goin….

    • Deerga says:

      Hi Banu. Thanks for stopping by. Add the ground masala powder after onion is sauteed. I have updated the recipe in the website as well and thanks for pointing it out. 🙂

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