20+ Indian Side Dishes To Serve With Your Meal

Indian cuisine is enjoyed by many. There is a diverse variety of dishes available, each of which has its own distinct taste. Rich, flavorful, and often spicey, some may find the taste of the main dishes alone a little overpowering. This is why it is essential to serve them with sides.

A great thing about Indian side dishes is that there is so much variety and plenty of options to explore. If you can’t decide on one, why not rustle up a selection of a few different side dishes.

If you have guests dining with you, this will provide them with the perfect opportunity to try a few different things.

Indian cuisine’s rich tapestry of flavors, textures, and ingredients attracts the palates of food lovers worldwide. The main courses are undoubtedly well-known and cherished, but the true magic and diversity of this culinary tradition lie in its plethora of side dishes. These accompaniments elevate the meal by offering contrasting tastes, enhancing the flavor of the central dish, and providing a balanced culinary experience.

Essential to the Indian gastronomic journey are the aromatic spices and fragrant blend of herbs that make each side dish unique. From the staple breads and rice dishes to the tangy chutneys, cooling raitas, and mouthwatering curries, Indian side dishes marry well with all types of main courses. Regional varieties and flavors ensure that there is always something new and exciting to explore in this fascinating world of accompaniments.

Key Takeaways

  • Indian side dishes offer diverse flavors and textures, elevating the overall meal experience.
  • Spices, herbs, and regional variations play a significant role in creating unique side dishes.
  • Staple accompaniments include breads, rice dishes, chutneys, raitas, and various curries.

Essential Spices and Ingredients

When preparing Indian side dishes, it’s important to be familiar with the essential spices and ingredients that create that signature flavor. Many Indian dishes rely on a combination of these key components to create a harmony of flavors.

First and foremost, garam masala is a must-have spice blend in your pantry. It typically includes a mix of ground spices such as cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and bay leaves. This blend brings a warm and earthy taste to your dishes.

Another integral spice is turmeric. Known for its vibrant yellow color and earthy flavor, turmeric adds a hint of bitterness that balances out other flavors. Moreover, it is often used for its numerous health benefits.

Cumin and coriander are two other important spices. Both have distinctive flavors that complement each other quite well. Cumin has an earthy and slightly smoky taste, while coriander is citrusy and sweet. Adding these spices to your dish will elevate the flavors.

Aromatic ingredients such as garliconion, and ginger will bring an additional layer of taste to your side dish. They can be used in various forms: minced, grated, or chopped, and sautéed until fragrant before incorporating other ingredients.

Tamarind is another essential player in Indian cooking. It is a tropical fruit that provides a tangy, sweet, and sour flavor. Often used to balance the heat from spices, tamarind can be found in paste or concentrate form to add to your dish.

To provide a cooling effect and balance the spices, yogurt is frequently utilized. Yogurt can be served on the side or used as an ingredient in various dishes like raita or kadhi.

Let’s talk about heat. For those who enjoy a bit of spice, green chilies are an exceptional choice. They can be chopped or sliced and added to your dish as per your heat preference.

Finally, the base of your dish will often include ghee or vegetable oil. Ghee is clarified butter with a rich, nutty flavor that enhances any Indian dish. Additionally, don’t forget a pinch of salt to season your side dish according to your taste.

Make sure you are well-stocked with these essential spices and ingredients to create delicious and authentic Indian side dishes for you and your loved ones to enjoy.

Below, we have listed 21 of our favorite side dishes that are going to taste great when served alongside a curry. From rice to bhajis, you certainly aren’t going to be limited on options.

Crispy Papadums

Papadums are a popular Indian side that can be fried or cooked under dry heat until they are crunchy. They can be made from a range of different flours such as chickpea flour or lentils, rice, and gram.

Making papadums is a fairly straightforward task, and if necessary they can be made in advance and stored inside an airtight container until they are needed.

There are several varieties of poppadoms to choose from. The first is a masala papadum which is flavored with pepper, garlic, cumin, and chili. The second is a jackfruit papadum which is made using jackfruit and chickpea flour.

They taste great when served with mango chutney but are equally as tasty when served as a side to a curry.

Seasoned Bombay Potatoes

Bombay potatoes are a great side option for your Indian feast. Chop your potatoes into small cubes and boil until they are soft, then fry them with an array of spices including garlic, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper, and chili powder.

Some people may choose to make a tomato and onion sauce to serve them with. A great thing about this side dish is that it is packed full of flavor and super easy to make. It also uses ingredients that you are likely to already have stocked in your kitchen cupboards.

Onion Bhajis

Onion Bhajis are an Indian side dish that is favored by many, in fact, some would argue that an Indian feast isn’t complete without a serving of onion bhajis. Again, they are super easy to make. Chop an onion into fine slices and smother in a slightly spiced batter before frying until they are crispy.

They are a great accompaniment to a curry. If you make a few too many you will be pleased to know that they will keep for around 2 days when stored inside the refrigerator.

Malai Kofta (vegetarian)

There are a few different well-known variations of Malai Kofta, however, they are typically made from potatoes and paneer. This is a great side option for vegetarians as it does not consist of meat.

Combine with some potatoes and an assortment of other vegetables including peas, beans, corn, and carrots. Season them with some spices of your choice and then sprinkle some paneer cheese on top.

Malai Kofta tastes delicious when paired with bread and rice.

Vegetable Or Meat Samosas

Another popular Indian side dish is samosas. They are triangular and can be filled with ingredients of your choice. For example, you can add minced meat or those who are vegetarian may prefer to stick with vegetables which are then infused with spices.

Popular fillings include onions, spiced potatoes, peas, and a meat of your choice. You can also make sweet samosas which are filled with an assortment of fruits.

Typically, samosas are served with a chutney sauce but they can also be enjoyed as a meal.

Keema Meat Stew

Keema is a traditional Indian stew that consists of minced lamb or goat meat, green peas, onions, potatoes, chili, garlic, and ghee. Generally, Keema is eaten as a main dish with popadums and chutney, however, it can be used as a samosa filling.

When making this dish you can adjust the volume of ingredients according to your taste preferences. If you don’t like your food with too much of a kick, you can decrease the number of spices.

Chickpea Curry

Chickpea curry is also referred to as Chole. Whilst the core ingredient is chickpeas, it is seasoned with an array of spices. This includes turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin, coriander seeds, onion, garlic, tomato, and ginger. If desired, you can top it with some onions and coriander.

This dish is also renowned for its adaptability, as it can be served with a variety of dishes such as naan, roti, rice, or puri.

Rasam Soup

Rasam is a ‘juice’ like soup that originates from South India. It has a slightly sweet but tangy taste and it is full of flavor. The main ingredients include tomatoes, cumin, garlic, black pepper, lemon, peppers, and tamarind. You can add other spices if you would like.

This is a versatile dish that is super tasty when served hot or cold. Typically, it is eaten as a soup and served with rice or lentils. Occasionally, it is used as gravy and poured over dishes.

Aloo Gobi 

Aloo Gobi is a classic vegetarian Indian side dish. The two main ingredients are potatoes and cauliflower, which have been infused with spices. Generally, it is a yellow color due to the addition of turmeric. This is a simple, but comforting dish that is super easy to prepare.

You can customize your Aloo Gobi by making it in one of several ways. For example, you can adjust the number of ingredients that you use, though you should expect this to be reflected in a slightly different flavor. We would recommend that you serve this dish with rice, bread, chutney or a salad.

Creamy Papri Chaat

Papri Chaat is a very popular street food that is commonly consumed in North India. The creamy flavor is going to complement the rich flavors of your favorite curry very well. To create this side dish you will need to fry some crackers or wafers. The selection of ingredients that are used to top these crackers can vary depending on your taste, however, the most common choices are chickpeas and potatoes that have been mixed with chutney and yogurt.

Before serving, use some spices to season to enhance the flavor.

Plain Or Seasoned Naan Bread

Naan is a type of flatbread that is particularly popular in India, though it is consumed throughout Asia. It is thick but fluffy and is usually made from a combination of wheat flour, yeast, egg, and yogurt.

If you’re craving something with a slightly more prominent taste why not add some garlic. You can also stuff your naan with some potatoes if you want something a little more substantial. Naan bread is a delicious side dish that can be served with your favorite curry or paneer.

Fried Okra

If you are looking for a healthy option, fried okra could be the perfect side dish for your meal. Although it is fried, it is rich in fiber. This is a valuable vegetable that is sourced for its green seed pods.

Cover in cornmeal and buttermilk, before frying in a pan of oil. Allow it to cook until the coating appears golden and crispy. Orka is a particularly versatile vegetable regarding how it can be cooked. If frying it doesn’t appeal to you, then you can roast or stew it instead.

Spiced Vegetables

Those who don’t have the time to spend making a challenging dish will appreciate this next option. Not only are these spiced vegetables super easy to rustle up but they also provide you with the perfect opportunity to use up any vegetables that you have sitting idle in your refrigerator.

Chop up a selection of vegetables such as corn, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, potatoes, asparagus, and then season before serving. The flavor of these vegetables is going to complement the taste of your Indian meal very well.

Basmati Rice

Rice is a staple side dish in Indian cuisine. Basmati rice in particular, is a type of white rice that has a spicy, nutty, and slightly floral taste that will go well with the strong flavors of your Indian dish. It is often eaten plain but you can add a few additional ingredients if you would like. Doing so will make the flavor and spiciness a little more prominent.

Basmati rice is easy to cook and can be made in a matter of minutes. Add to a saucepan and bring to boil. Let it cook until it is soft and fluffy.

Deep Fried Puri 

This deep-fat fried bread is made with wheat flour and salt. It can be eaten as a snack or served alongside a savory curry. When cooked it will appear crispy, golden, and irresistible. Whilst it tastes great when served with savory dishes, it can also be enjoyed with sweet treats.

There are a few different varieties available, some which are spicy and others which can be stuffed with ingredients such as potatoes.

Pulao Rice

Pulao rice is a dish that consists of spices, fried onions, vegetables, and meat. Although it is usually made from rice, couscous works just as well. The rice is cooked in a broth or stock and seasoned with spices and herbs. You can also add meat to this dish to make it a little more substantial.

Often, Pulao rice is eaten as a main dish and topped with yogurt, but it can also be served with curry as a side dish.

Seasoned Pakora

A popular street food, Pakora is a fried fritter that is made from an array of vegetables which are coated in a batter and then fried. They are very similar to onion bhajis, however, they include a greater variety of ingredients.

Whilst pakora can be eaten alone as a snack it can also be served with chutney. As a super moreish dish, it is likely to become a favorite amongst your dinner guests.

Creamy Palak Paneer

Our next recommendation is suitable for vegetarians. Palak Paneer is made from pureed spinach which is mixed with chunks of cottage cheese. It is creamy with a slightly bitter taste which is created by the spinach.

Traditionally, it is served with onions on the side. Enjoy it with some rice, paranthas, naan, or roti for a great tasting meal.

Cucumber Raita 

Cucumber Raita is a well-known side dish in Indian cuisine. It can either be consumed as a dip or eaten as a side salad. To make cucumber raita you will need to chop up some green chilies, cucumber, and dahi. Optionally, you can add onions and tomatoes. Flavor with some fresh mint and coriander before serving.

The refreshing taste makes this the perfect summer side dish.

Umpa Porridge

Umpa is a thick porridge that is made from coarse rice flour or dry semolina. Because the flavors of this dish aren’t overly intense they will balance out the spiciness of a curry very well.

Common ingredients that are added to umpa include onion, chili pepper, cumin, coriander, tomato, and carrot. You can also top with some nuts and corn if desired. If you would like to make this dish creamier, you can even pour in a dash of milk.

Rasgulla Dumplings

Often we associate side dishes with those that have a savory taste, but why not serve some sweet dishes with your Indian meal. Although they are consumed throughout South Asia, they are commonly eaten in India.

These round dumplings are made from semolina or Chena dough and cooked in a sugary syrup. They are fairly easy to make although there are a few steps involved in the process. You must allow the dumplings to cook until the sugar permeates the dough.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, 21 side dishes that you can serve with Indian food. As you can see, there is so much variety when it comes to these sides. Many are great for those who prefer something with a slightly bland taste that is going to balance out the spiciness and richness of their main meal.

The majority of the dishes that we have listed above are super easy to make and prepare, often calling for a straightforward list of ingredients that you may already be stocked up on.

To conclude our list, we have also provided you with a side that is of the sweet variety. Whilst it may not appeal to everyone, it is perfect for those looking for something a little more adventurous.

20+ Indian Side Dishes (+Fried Okra)

These recipes are sure to please. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 2 votes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 3
Calories 290 kcal


  • 12 ounces okra sliced and dry
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. ghee
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 minced serrano pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. each minced ginger sea salt, and turmeric
  • 2 minced garlic cloves


  • Heat cumin seeds, onions, and pepper in ghee in a skillet.
  • Stir-fry the okra until crispy.


Select your favorite recipe.
Organize all the required ingredients.
Enjoy the food.


Calories: 290kcal
Keyword Fried Okra, Indian Side Dishes
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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