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20 Indian Side Dishes for Your Next Meal

What is an Indian Side Dish?

“Side dish” is a term in Indian food, but when it comes down to it, different people have different ideas about what a side dish is. My definition of an Indian side dish is any small dish that isn’t meat, flatbread, appetizer, or sweet.

In Western Cuisine, a meal is made up of an entree that is usually heavy and probably contains meat. In addition to that are usually one or two side dishes that are lighter and vegetable based. And there may also be some bread. 

But most Indian dishes are already vegetables. A typical Indian meal is usually a wet shaak (vegetable curry), a dry shaak, a dal, rice, flatbread, and yogurt.

Depending on the definition you go by, all of these may be considered side dishes. Instead of having a single, featured entree, they work together in consort to form a complete meal.

Here are some great side dishes you can serve at your next Indian meal. These are all 100% vegetarian side dishes:


Moong Dal

Moong Dal

An easy, traditional dal made from split mung beans

Gujarati Dal recipe by Indiaphile.info

Grandma’s Gujarati Dal

A delicate balance of spicy, sweet and sour, made with tuver

Dal Tadka

Dal Tadka is a rich, creamy dal made with a mix of lentils.

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani is a creamy vegetarian dish made with whole urad lentils.

Yogurt (Dahi)

Pineapple raita

Pineapple Raita

Pineapple raita is tangy, salty, spicy, and creamy.

A plate of cucumber raita

Cucumber Raita

Cucumber raita is the best cooling accompaniment to balance any spicy meal.

Beet Raita

Beet Raita

A cooling raita with the flavors of beet and an optional vaghar.

A bowl of homemade yogurt


A simple dollop of yogurt goes well with many foods. Sometimes I’ll sprinkle a little cumin or chili powder on top.

Chutney and Pickles


Tomato Chutney

Tomato chutney hits all of the tastebuds with sweet, sour, umami, spices and salt. Amazing with any bread.

Chili Pickle

Lal Marcha nu Athanu

A pungent chili pickle that belongs on the side of every Indian meal.

Turmeric Pickle

Turmeric Pickle

A pickle that adds a balance of all flavors. It goes great with just about anything, adding a pleasant crunch.

Tamarind chutney

Tamarind Chutney

A sweet and sour chutney that goes great on many street foods and chaat.

Rice Side Dishes

Pulao - Indian Rice Pilaf

Pulao (Indian Rice Pilaf)

A rich pilaf made with Indian spices, cashews, and garlic.

A plate of jeera rice

Jeera Rice (Cumin Rice)

Fragrant rice featuring cumin.

Lemon Rice

Chitrana (Lemon Rice)

A South Indian style of rice, made with lemon and peanuts.

Bowl of Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice

Make the perfect bowl of basmati rice.

Categorized as Food

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