Biryani Salan recipe | Restaurant style Biryani gravy
Salan is a popular and mandatory side dish served with Hyderabadi dum biryani variants (veg or non-veg).
An exotic delicacy from Hyderabadi cuisine is creamy, mildly spiced, and slightly tangy. With this salan recipe, make the restaurant-quality salan at home.
What is Salan?
Salan is an Urdu word. In English, it translates to curry or gravy.
There are many variations in a curry, made with eggplants, tomato, capsicum, thick green chilies. Biryani salan is one of them that comes for Hyderabadi cuisine of South India. It is a common word in Muslim families and has other names like ‘Saalan’, ‘Shorba’, ‘Shirva’.
Curries in Hyderabadi cuisine are inevitable items.
In traditional Hyderabadi curries, dry coconut, tomato, or tamarind, nuts such as peanuts, cashews, almonds, sesame seeds, red chilies are the commonly used ingredients. Hyderabadi cuisine, an amalgamation of Mughal, Turkish, and Arabic cuisines is a treasure of classic dishes that are different from other cuisines.
With so many different ingredients, Hyderabadi cuisine is known to be scrumptious with a richness in taste that is difficult to find elsewhere in the country.
This gravy is served in a small portion/bowl as an accompaniment with biryani along with raita and onion salad, be it a street vendor, pushcart, hotel, or fine dining restaurant. The difference is the ingredients (to keep it economical) and way of preparation.
In my 10 years of stay in Hyderabad, I’ve noticed that salan is a common side dish made during Muslim festivals like Eid or weddings or walima (any special occasions).
In most places, biryani gravy is plain. It means the gravy does not have any vegetables in it. In a few places, you can find thick green chilies (which are not spicy) in the gravy. It is also called Mirchi ka Salan.
In Hyderabad, be it a feast at home or in a restaurant, biryani is incomplete without this aromatic and flavorful curry.
In Hyderabadi houses, it is common to see them eating salan as curry with rotis/chapatis in breakfast or lunch, or dinner.
About Biryani Salan recipe
This basic salan recipe is the master recipe for base gravy.
The first step is to make a special masala paste. Peanuts, coconut, sesame seeds are the key ingredients in the paste. There is no specific proportion for these three ingredients.
I had an opportunity to speak with a few chefs at restaurants and Hyderabadi functions. After a conversation with them, got to know that they add an equal quantity of all three ingredients. So, this biryani gravy recipe is by following the tips from the best which makes this easy recipe must try.
For an authentic taste, the salan recipe has an equal quantity of peanuts, coconut, and sesame seeds. You can follow the same or can alter the quantity. Add more peanuts or more coconut, as per your preference.
The masala paste is tempered and simmered with aromatic spices. Tamarind pulp is added for a slight tanginess and tones down the spice level a bit. Also, I like to add little jaggery, it does not make the curry sweet but balances the sourness and spiciness.
Apart from these, there is a unique combination of spices, that makes this dish luscious.
So far I had salan at many places and liked all of them. But, my favorite biryani gravy has a special ingredient, kalonji seeds also known as nigella seeds, onion seeds, seeds of blessing. The aroma and flavor of this superb spice is a game-changer in this dish.
I came to know about this ingredient after having it at a restaurant that is popular for biryani and salan.
For me, salan is the best option on days when I do not feel like eating any vegetable curry.
As a side dish for pulao, bagara rice, and biryani, I prefer to make a mildly spiced curry. So that the salan flavor does not dominate biryani flavors.
Whereas, with steamed rice and Indian bread, I prefer to make spicy.
Hyderabadi salan recipe is simple. But, the process is time taking, patience to dry roast the ingredients on slow flame, cool and grind, and roast the masala paste on medium flame till oil separates. Trust me, the taste of it is worth all the fuss.
The biryani salan recipe can be divided into two parts:
1. Making the masala paste.
2. Making the curry/gravy.
Ingredients to make Restaurant style Salan
The ingredients list may look intimidating. But most of them are basic in the Indian pantry. Kalonji may not be available in your kitchen but is easily available in a kirana store or supermarket or online.
The best part of this basic salan recipe is you do not need to use all the ingredients mentioned. You can skip the ingredients you do not have.
For the masala paste:
Peanuts, Dry coconut, & Sesame seeds: Key ingredients to make the base gravy. They add thickness and make the dish super delicious.
If you are allergic to peanuts, you can replace them with cashews.
Onion: Add little oil to a pan and roast the sliced onions till light brown color.
Coriander & cumin seeds.
Turmeric and Red chili powder.
For the curry
oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, kalonji, fenugreek/methi seeds, curry leaves, jaggery/gur, and salt to taste.
Tamarind: Soak it in warm water for 5-10 mins, squeeze and extract the pulp.
How to make basic Salan
1. Soak tamarind in hot water.
2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. When warm, add peanuts. Saute for 30 seconds on medium flame.
3. Add coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Saute for a few seconds till aromatic.
4. Turn the flame to low and add dry coconut. Continue to saute till it turns light brown color.
5 & 6. Add sesame seeds. Continue to saute on low flame for a min. Take them on a plate.
7. In the same pan, add 1 tbsp oil and add sliced onion. On medium flame, saute till they turn light pink in color.
8. Remove it on a plate and let it cool.
9 & 10. Add ginger-garlic, turmeric powder, and red chili powder. Grind to a smooth paste by adding little water.
11. Add oil to the pan and let it heat. Add fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, kalonji, cumin seeds, and curry leaves.
12. Add the masala paste and mix well.
13. Saute on medium flame by stirring frequently till moisture reduces and oil is seen on the sides.
14 & 15. Add salt and tandoori masala. Give a good mix.
16. Add tamarind pulp and mix well.
17. Add 1 cup water, mix well and let it come to a boil.
18. Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for 10 minutes. So stir in between.
19. Add little jaggery and mix.
20. Turn the flame to medium and saute without covering the pan.
21, 22, 23, & 24. Saute on medium flame till the gravy thickens and oil separates. Turn off the heat.
Biryani salan is ready. Can serve hot with biryani, or any rice variety or roti.
Dry roast the ingredients on low flame.
For a velvety texture, grind the masala to a fine paste.
Simmer the gravy on low flame for at least 15-20 mins.
Saute the gravy on medium flame till oil separates. It is also an indication that the masala has cooked well.
What to serve Salan with?
Salan is mistaken as a side dish just for biryani. With a mix of so many ingredients and aromatic spices, you can relish the curry with anything.
Because of the ingredients, it’s a versatile dish that you can pair with malabar parottas, plain parathas, roti, chapatis, phulkas, jowar bhakri, and any flavored rice varieties like vegetable pulao, jeera rice, bagara rice.
I like to pair the gravy with dosa too. Serve it as a dip/chutney or spread on dosa and roll it.
How to store Salan?
Salan tastes the best the next day. So, if possible make a day before and refrigerate or at least a few hours before serving, the rest time allows the ingredients to release their flavor. You can make a big batch, cool it completely, and store it in the fridge for 7-10 days.
To store beyond, you can freeze it. Use more oil while making the salan, oil will act as a preservative. Cool the gravy completely and transfer in an air-tight container or freezer-safe bag. Thaw the gravy on the kitchen counter for a few hours. Reheat the salan in a microwave or in a pan on the stovetop, until warm. Stir in between for even heating.
With this basic salan recipe, you can make many variations. Use the salan as base, add vegetables, and a different salan is ready.
1. Brinjal/baigan ka salan: It’s one of my favorites. Shallow fry the brinjals till half done, make the salan, and simmer brinjals till completely cooked.
2. Mirchi ka salan: Thick and big green chilies are shallow fried and simmered in the basic salan.
4. Tamatar ka salan: Big chunks of tomatoes are simmered in the gravy.
3. Ande (egg) ka salan: This dish has boiled eggs which as slit and cooked in the curry.
4. Okra (bhindi) ka salan: In this dish, bhindi is shallow fried and slow-cooked in salan till all the flavors combine.
5. Onion salan: Also called pyaaz ka salan, small baby onions are simmered in the gravy.
If you have tried this authentic restaurant-style Biryani salan recipe and liked it, do rate by clicking on the stars, and comment below. Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated. Also, please share the recipes with your friends and family members.
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Biryani Salan recipe | Restaurant Biryani gravy
For Masala paste
- 1 tsp Oil
- 2 tbsp Groundnuts
- 2 tbsp Dry coconut (grated or thinly sliced)
- 2 tbsp Sesame seeds (till)
- 1 tbsp Coriander seeds
- 1 large Onion (sliced)
- 1 tbsp Ginger-garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1/2 tbsp Red chili powder
- Water to grind
For preparing curry
- 3 tbsp Oil
- 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
- 8-10 Curry leaves
- 1/2 tsp Kalonji
- 1/2 tsp Tandoori masala or Garam masala
- lemon size Tamarind
- Jaggery (gur)
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup Water
- Soak tamarind in hot water.
To make the masala paste
- Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. When warm, add peanuts. Saute for 30 seconds on medium flame.
- Add coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Saute for a few seconds till aromatic.
- Turn the flame to low and add dry coconut. Continue to saute till it turns light brown color.
- Add sesame seeds. Continue to saute on low flame for a min. Take them on a plate.
- In the same pan, add 1 tbsp oil and add sliced onion. On medium flame, saute till they turn light pink in color.
- Remove it on a plate and let it cool. Add ginger-garlic, turmeric powder, and red chili powder. Grind to a smooth paste by adding little water.
To make the salan
- Add oil to the pan and let it heat. Add fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, kalonji, cumin seeds, and curry leaves.
- Add the masala paste and mix well. Saute on medium flame by stirring frequently till moisture reduces and oil is seen on the sides.
- Add salt and tandoori masala. Give a good mix. Add tamarind pulp and mix well.
- Add 1 cup water, mix well and let it come to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for 10 minutes. So stir in between.
- Add little jaggery and mix. Turn the flame to medium and saute without covering the pan.
- Saute on medium flame till the gravy thickens and oil separates. Turn off the heat.
- Biryani salan is ready. Can serve hot with biryani, or any rice variety or roti.