Note: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
If you love Indian cuisine, here are a few easy-to-make, popular Indian side dish recipes to get you started. Stop doing takeouts and make your favorite restaurant-style side dish at home.
What does an Indian meal consist of?
The idea of what constitutes a complete Indian meal can vary from one household to the other. Also, what is served during parties or get-togethers is different from an everyday meal.
Let me elaborate.
For example, most everyday Indian lunches/dinners include servings of white rice or rotis (sometimes both) with dal or a curry accompanied by vegetables and/or protein (paneer, egg, fish, chicken, etc.). Some households serve homemade yogurt and/or raitas along with the meal, while some serve it at the end to finish off the meal. Desserts are usually reserved for special occasions such as festivals, birthdays, etc.
Get-togethers or parties are a bit more elaborate.
Dinner parties usually start off with savory appetizers like onion bhaji or Punjabi samosa served with tamarind and green chutneys accompanied by drinks (alcoholic/non-alcoholic). After an hour or so, once the guests have settled in and have had a chance to mingle, the next course is served, the main course.
An Indian main course, especially at parties, includes at least 3-4 dishes. While curries are a must, people often serve biryanis too. They are usually accompanied by side dishes such as plain or mildly-flavored rice, Indian flatbreads (roti, parathas, puris), dals, raitas, salads, and vegetable or protein-based side dishes.
The final course is, of course, desserts which is the perfect way to wrap up a meal.
I hope this helps you understand how an Indian meal can differ depending on whether it is an everyday meal or a social occasion.
Note: For tips on how to plan a perfect Indian party, check out this post – Indian party menu ideas with sample menus, recipes, and tips! You’ll have all the resources you need to make your next get-together a huge hit!
Now that you have a basic understanding of what constitutes an Indian meal let me get back to the original intent of this post – sharing a collection of delicious Indian side dishes that’ll help you plan and make a complete Indian meal, be it for parties or for busy weeknights.
Don’t worry; we have covered most of your Indian restaurant favorites in this list. If you are looking for a particular recipe and can’t find it here, just leave us a comment, and we’ll get that taken care of.
Rice side dish
Of all the Indian sides, rice is probably the most popular. They are easy to make, budget-friendly, and come together very quickly. Here are a few of my go-to Indian rice recipes that are perfect with curries and dals.
Instant Pot Basmati rice
I have used rice cookers in the past and have made rice over the stovetop, too, but making Basmati rice in the Instant Pot is my absolute favorite method – it takes less time than rice cookers and is hands-free, unlike making it on the stovetop.
Instant Pot Jeera rice
After a long day at work, our hungry stomach often demands a satisfying meal that doesn’t take hours to make. That’s when a good recipe for jeera rice will come in handy. This dish goes really well with dal and curries.
Instant Pot Sona Masoori rice
In India, making Basmati rice is often reserved for special occasions. Depending on the region, the choice of everyday rice may differ. At home, we ate a lot of sona masoori rice.
This type of rice is medium-grain (sometimes referred to as short-grain) rice which is widely used and very popular in South Indian cuisine. Most famously, it is an integral ingredient used during the Pongal festival (check out this Instant Pot ven pongal recipe).
It goes really well with curries and dals or to make fragrant coconut rice.
Easy yellow turmeric Rice
Homemade Indian Yellow Turmeric Rice has never been easier than this 20-minute Instant Pot recipe. Made with anti-inflammatory turmeric, this fragrant rice recipe makes the perfect side to curries, seafood, chicken, and more!
Moong dal khichdi
Khichdi is such a versatile dish. It can be served as a complete meal on its own or as a side dish to complement any meal.
Vegetable masala khichdi
Not very different from the simple masala khichdi recipe above, this spiced-up version is just as good and comforting.
Curd rice (thayir sadam)
The delicately flavored curd rice (also known as thayir sadam or yogurt rice) is a perfect way to cool your palate after a spicy meal. Learn how to make this comfort food in under 30 minutes.
From dunking into curries to dipping in pickles and raitas to scooping up a side dish, flatbreads are an integral part of the Indian diet. Here are a few of the popular Indian breads that go well with curries and side dishes.
The biggest challenge with rotis is to make them soft and puffy. Don’t worry; I’ve gotten down all the tips and tricks to nail a perfect roti or chapati.
This is an easy paratha recipe for you to get started with. The step-by-step photos in this post will teach you how to make round, square, and triangular parathas in no time.
Naan (Plain, butter, and garlic)
Though naan is traditionally made in a clay oven (tandoor), you can make it at home without one. This easy-to-follow post will teach you how to make pillowy soft plain, butter, or garlic Indian naan bread at home using your stovetop.
Poori is a deep-fried bread that is often served for brunch or lunch with aloo bhaji (spicy potato side dish) or shrikhand (sweetened hung yogurt). The recipe below will give you all the tips and tricks to make puffed-up pooris.
the best FLATBREAD recipes
30+ Authentic Indian Flatbread Recipes
From naan to parathas to many different types of rotis, this list of 30+ Indian flatbread recipes will not disappoint. They are perfect for brunch, lunch, or dinner with a delicious bowl of Indian curry. You can also enjoy them for breakfast or as a snack with a hot cup of tea.
Vegetarian side dishes
Check out some of the popular vegetarian side dishes that are perfect for everyday meals as well as special occasions. We love eating paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and include it in our diet at least once a week.
Restaurant-style kadhai paneer is made with freshly ground spices, chunks of paneer, and a blend of onions, peppers, and a spicy masala sauce. It’s a filling vegetarian dinner, perfect for busy weeknights.
If you have never had palak or saag paneer before, think of it as a mildly spicy, creamy curry made from spinach and cottage cheese. The silky texture makes it a popular dish to dunk your naans in. Check out this recipe below.
Matar Paneer recipe combines green peas (matar) with cottage cheese cubes (paneer) in a creamy tomato onion-based gravy. This delectable dish with a hint of garam masala pairs really well with warm rotis or naans.
Aloo palak (potato and spinach curry)
This comforting recipe for aloo palak (aloo saag) comes together in under 30 minutes for a delicious vegan side dish. Made in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop, this simple potato and spinach curry pairs perfectly with fresh roti, paratha, or rice.
Masala aloo (spicy Bombay potatoes)
Simple, flavorful, and crispy, this Instant Pot Bombay Aloo recipe comes together in 30 minutes for a side dish your whole family will love. With directions for Instant Pot and stovetop, you can easily make this vegan and gluten-free spiced potato recipe any night of the week.
Aloo Sabzi (easy Indian potatoes)
Learn how to make this classic Indian potato recipe in under 30 minutes using a pressure cooker like Instant Pot. This versatile dish is easy to make, and it is perfect for those who are new to Indian cooking.
Indian cuisine is known for its lavish use of spices and for being time-consuming. When you are beginning to cook Indian food, these facts alone can make it intimidating. Don’t worry; there are enough and more Indian food recipes that can be made in less than 30 minutes and need just a few spices. This jeera aloo recipe is one such example.
Aloo Gobi is the quintessential Indian way of cooking potatoes (aloo) and cauliflower (gobi). It is a classic side dish that is best served hot with warm rotis.
Baingan bharta is a smoky-flavored curry made by mashing fire-roasted eggplants and cooking them in a rich onion-tomato gravy. A popular dish from North India, Baingan bharta pairs well with roti or rice.
Bhindi do pyaaza
If you love okras, this dish is for you. Made with a copious amount of onions and bhindi (okra), of course, this side dish pairs well with rotis.
This air fryer bhindi recipe is an even easier version of my already simple bhindi masala recipe. Not only does the air fryer make this Indian okra dish easy to prepare, but it also cooks okra perfectly and is not the least bit slimy. This makes air fryer okra a popular dish even with kids, especially when served with fresh roti or rice, accompanied by dal.
Beans poriyal is traditionally made over the stovetop, but this Instant-Pot version will blow your mind – because it pressure cooks in zero minutes. Pair it with rice and your favorite curry for a complete meal.
Turai or Tori vegetable (ridge gourd in English) can be made either as a curry or a dry side dish. Get the recipe to make South Indian-style turiya or perey upkari. It is a simple dish made by stir-frying the gourd and finishing it with a coconut garnish.
Non-vegetarian side dish
Some of these non-vegetarian side dishes also double up as appetizers or starters. Check out these amazing chicken, seafood, and egg-based side dishes.
This salmon tikka cooks on the pan or in a pressure cooker using Mealthy CrispLid to achieve that fresh out-of-tandoor flavor.
While Tandoori chicken is often served as a starter/appetizer, it makes a great side dish with naan too.
Tandoori chicken tikka
This delicious, tender Tandoori chicken tikka recipe takes only 30 minutes! Try making it on your stovetop or an air fryer!
Chicken ghee roast
Chicken Ghee Roast is made by stir-frying (or roasting as they call it in India) chicken in fairly copious amounts of ghee (clarified butter) and a medley of spices. This recipe is truly one of a kind – I highly recommend you try it!
Masala egg roast
For days when you don’t want to make an elaborate meal, make this easy masala egg roast recipe that goes well with a side of curd rice.
If you grew up in an Indian household as I did, there is a high probability that you had dal (lentil soup) for at least one of your meals. Here are a few of my favorite dal recipes that I constantly make at home.
Dal palak (spinach dal)
Mildly spiced and oh-so-creamy, this spinach dal (dal palak) recipe comes together in under 30 minutes for a protein-packed meal everyone will enjoy. This hearty, vegetarian spinach dahl cooks up in one pot for a comforting meal you can easily pair with fresh rice or roti.
This recipe for dal fry comes from my mom’s kitchen and is fabulous if you ask me. I know I am biased, but I would love for you to try it and share your opinion.
With toor dal as its key ingredient, this tadka dal is easy to make, needs only a few ingredients, and makes for a nutritious accompaniment to roti or rice.
If you have never had Dal Makhani before, think of it as a creamy, lightly-spiced curry made from whole urad dal and red kidney beans (rajma). You could easily overpower the dish with spices but don’t. The stars of this dish are the lentils – let them shine.
If you are looking for a comforting, healthy, and easy weeknight meal, you’ll love this flavorful recipe for moong dal (yellow lentil soup). Also known as mung dhal soup, it’s a vegan-friendly lentil dish that pairs perfectly with rice, rotis, and many other popular Indian dishes. Make it in your Instant Pot or over the stovetop.
Raitas are a perfect way to cool your palate. Here are a few raita recipes that are a keeper!
Cucumber tomato raita
This cooling yogurt-based accompaniment is perfect for balancing the spice and heat in Biryanis and Pulaos. Learn how to make it in under 10 minutes.
Boondi raita is probably the easiest raita recipe out there. All you need is 5 minutes to get this yogurt dish together!
Cucumber raitas are an integral part of an Indian meal. Cucumbers and yogurt both have a cooling effect and will help settle your stomach after spicy food. Try this easy recipe today.
THE VERY BEST RAITA RECIPES
10+ Raita Recipes
Bookmark this collection of 30+ easy Instant Pot Rice Recipes – they’ll come in handy when you are in the mood to switch up your rice routine. From Indian Instant Pot recipes like chicken biryani to global recipes such as Mexican rice, you’ll find a variety of options to choose from.
Other collection of Indian recipes to check out
- Rice side dishes – Check out this round-up of 25+ best rice side dish recipes you can pair with curries or meat such as chicken, pork, etc
- 30+ Authentic Indian curry recipes – Learn all you need to know about Indian curries and get some easy and authentic recipes that’ll get you cooking in no time.
- 10+ Indian chutney recipes – These authentic and tantalizing Indian chutney recipes are just what you need to elevate your meals. Check out this collection of 10+ popular chutney recipes that are perfect with Indian breakfast, snacks, and main courses too.
- 45+ Indian sweets and dessert recipes – Check out this extensive list of easy dessert recipes that are perfect for dinner parties, festivals, or for days when you are just craving something sweet.
- 35+ Best Indian breakfast recipes – Running out of ideas on what to make for breakfast? Here’s a list of easy Indian breakfast recipes for your inspiration so that you are never bored eating the same things over and over.