Unless you’re a cultural enthusiast or are lucky enough to be from Indian heritage, being faced with a menu overflowing with traditional cuisine can be a little intimidating. We would all love to try something new, but where do you start? Do you play it safe with basic dishes? Or be brave and opt for dishes on the whim in the hope it meets your tastebuds? Opening your mind up to new taste sensations can take a considerable amount of courage, so to ease yourself in, why not, instead, opt for some delicious side dishes to accompany your favourite curry to start your journey?
Delicious Side Dishes You Must Try!
Once you have opened up your mind to tasting new flavours, it is almost guaranteed that you will be eager to continue trying more and before you know it, would you have sampled every dish on the menu. If you’re hoping to step out of your comfort zone during your next visit to your favourite Indian restaurant or want to try something new from the comfort of your home through ordering a takeaway, take a look at some of our suggestions for some inspiration!
1. Bombay Potatoes
Bombay potatoes are the perfect partner for a vegetable-based curry. Made from cubed potatoes, firstly boiled and then fried with an assortment of different spices, the dish is a safer option as it is made with simple ingredients and is unlikely to be particularly spicy.
A roti is merely a hot flatbread made from wholemeal flour mixed with water and then kneaded into a dough like consistency. To cook a traditional roti, a tandoor is used which is a type of oven heated using charcoal. Once the roti has been baked in the tandoor, it will have a slight charcoal smoky taste. Not only is roti a popular side dish in India, but it is also common in countries such as Africa and the Carribean.
Samosas are one of the most popular and well-known dishes to compliment Indian cuisine. They are a savoury filled pastry, either baked or fried and usually triangle shaped. There are many different variations of samosas, and they can be filled with almost any ingredient of your choice, however, are traditionally filled with cooked potatoes, onion and green peas seasoned with various spices. When visiting Indian restaurants, it is more than likely that you will be served your samosa dish alongside a tasty mint dip.
4. Naan Bread
Authentic Indian cuisine consists of more than thirty different types of breads to accompany curries, with naan bread holding the title of most popular. There are seven different types of naan bread, all of which are oven baked flatbreads filled with different ingredients. The most loved variations of naan bread are the keema and Peshwari naan. Keema naan is a more savoury bread filled with minced meat, whereas if you have a sweet tooth, you may want to consider a Peshwari which is filled with coconut and commonly almonds.
A chapati is very similar to a roti, which means that the two dishes are often mixed up. Although they are made from mainly the same ingredients, a chapati has a touch of added salt and is cooked on a griddle rather than in the oven. Chapatis are more common that roti and are used to wrap food, mostly vegetable dishes and soups, then eaten.
6. Bharwan Mushrooms
Bharwan mushrooms are technically a stuffed mushroom, however, are coated in breadcrumbs then fried. The dish can be served both hot and cold, cooked with a filling of your choice, most Indian chefs have their own specialist mix used to stuff mushrooms. Here at our Indian restaurant in Milton Keynes, our Bharwan mushrooms are filled with paneer, a fresh cheese, mixed with herbs and dried nuts.
7. Papdi Chaat
Papdi Chaat is a mouth-watering fast food street food dish served in India made with crispy fried wafers made from homemade dough. The wafers are then topped with a mix of potatoes and chickpeas then finally garnished with an assortment of chutneys and fresh yoghurt.
Raita is less of a side dish, but more of a condiment to compliment and add extra taste to traditional pieces of bread and popadoms. Using a thoroughly mixed combination of cucumber and yoghurt with an added touch of mint, raita is deliously refreshing and cooling dip. Raita is garnished with coriander ready to be dunked with naan bread or poppadoms as a starter or side dish to cool you down from the heat of your curry.
Dhal has many different spellings and alternative names including Dal, Daal or Dahl, however, they are all the same dish. When ordering a dhal, you will be served a pulsed dish which can be anything from a soup-like consistency to a thicker texture. The majority of dhal dishes are many from lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas and eaten with rice or roti.
10. Saag Aloo
Saag Aloo is most likely one of the healthiest Indian side dishes you could opt for; it includes no heavily fried or baked ingredients. Boiled potatoes and wilted spinach are the two main ingredients of saag aloo with added greens, and onion often used to complete the dish and add extra flavour. Similarly, to most other dishes mentioned, saag aloo is commonly eaten with variations of naan bread.
Photo credit to Diabetes UK.
11. Onion Bhaji
We thought that we would leave the old favourite until last, you simply cannot experience a real taste of India without a side of onion bhajis. The crispy onion fritters can be eaten as a snack as well as to accompany your main meal. Onion bhajis are created with onions fried in various spices including chilli powder, cumin and turmeric.
What Side Dish Will You Order Next?
We hope that our favourite 11 delicious side dishes have opened you up to a new world of taste and ideas for your next trip to ignite your taste buds. There are many different traditional side dishes you could even try your hand at cooking at home, the majority of the dishes mentioned are straightforward to make and will only involve a few ingredients seasoned with different spices. Alternatively, on your next trip to an Indian restaurant, ask the experts for some advice on what dishes compliment different curries the most, we can guarantee you won’t regret it!