The best side dishes to serve with a curry
Made a delicious curry but stuck for something to serve it with? Read our definitive list of accompaniments and never be short on sides again.
Whatever the time of year, we can guarantee that bbcgoodfood.com users absolutely love a curry. When we indulge in a warming, well-spiced dish, we like to load our plates up with lots of side dishes to complement the inevitably oversized mound of curry, and we’re not just talking about that old jar of mango chutney that’s loitering at the back of the cupboard.
Read how to create authentic accompaniments to your favourite Indian recipes, whether you want something takeaway-esque or super swish and slow-cooked.
Our favourite side dishes for curry
If you love to mop up curry sauce with a pillowy naan, we have recipes that’ll tickle your brinjal pickle. If you’ve never made your own bread before, Indian flatbreads are a good place to start. Our quick mango chutney naan recipe couldn’t be simpler – the dough only needs to sit for fifteen minutes, then balls of dough are roughly flattened ready to be grilled for mere minutes.
Anjum Anand’s grilled flaky naans will need a few hours for the dough to rest, but the naans are packed with a heady mix of spices, including ajwain seeds, which are a little like an extra-pungent thyme. Alternatively, our easy naan recipe is made in a frying pan.
If you’re nervous about working with dough, we have ideas for sprucing up shop-bought naans too. These cheese and chilli naans make Indian pizzas out of supermarket breads, while Roopa Gulati gave us three more ways of jazzing up naans – with rosemary, garlic and mint or harissa.
Thepla bread is another popular Indian flatbread. Our version with courgettes & coriander is made in a frying pan. Versions of unleavened, pancake-like roti or chapati bread are also ideal accompaniments to spiced sauces.
Some people prefer to serve curry with unadorned rice, so as not to distract from the main event.
Watch our video guide on how to cook the perfect, fluffy rice:
For those who want a little extra kick, there are more ways of flavouring rice than you could shake a bag of basmati at...
Some of our favourites include this easy Turmeric pilau with golden onions, while our tomato & spinach kitchari – a restorative mix of lentils and rice – is good enough to be served as a main course. This lightly spiced pistachio pilau uses fried onions as its base, while this 20-minute rice with frozen peas could be knocked up as you wait for a takeaway main to arrive, and we guarantee it’ll go with every curry type you can imagine.
There’s something uniquely nourishing about a dhal (or dal, or indeed daal), and we can't think of many other ways of elevating a humble pulse to such dizzying flavour heights. However, achieving true dhal success means it’s not as simple is picking up the first bag of pulses you see. Some dhal recipes require split lentils, and others need them whole. Then there are different colours to chose from, with red (masoor), black (urad) and green lentils holding different flavour and texture qualities. Try our super satisfying creamy black dhal with crispy onions for a warming feast of flavours.
On the other hand, chana dhal is actually made from chickpeas, while toor dal is made from yellow-coloured split pigeon peas. If this all sounds a bit complicated, you can’t go wrong with a makhani dhal made from black lentils, tonnes of spice, indulgent double cream and some kidney beans for added pulse power, although as you’re cooking with dried pulses, pre-soaking and slow-cooking is key. If you’re eating curry in a hurry, we do have a cheat’s version – our 20-minute lime & coconut dhal is made from canned lentils.
Spuds carry plenty of flavour, are abundant and fill you up quick-time, so it’s no wonder they’re popular in Indian cooking. There’s no definitive recipe for spicy bombay potatoes, although we have a few tasty variations. Our simple spicy potatoes has peas woven through for added veg credentials. ‘Sag aloo’ means spinach and potato (infact, wherever you see aloo on a menu, you know you’re talking tatty), and this classic side dish will contain a blend of spices, garlic and ginger, fried in a pan with potatoes until soft. If you’re a fusion fan, try our Indian oven chips – these wedges are flavoured with turmeric, fennel seed, garlic and ginger, and they’re the optimum shape for scooping up sauces.
Our Gujurati cabbage recipe has a deep spice profile and contains asafoetida, a pungent root that should be used sparingly but is a gateway spice into truly authentic Indian cuisine. Our spiced broccoli with paneer makes for a heartier side and is spiced with garam masala. It's neutral in flavour, so good for spices like mustard seeds, mace and curry leaves, although if you want to ditch the dairy, our Indian spiced greens can be made with any leaves you can lay your hands on.
We adore anything covered in pastry, so it stands to reason we’re a fan of samosas. Traditional samosas might be made with ghee and refined maida flour, but our recipes use cheat’s filo pastry. Our spinach samosas are even baked, so you forego the indulgent bath in bubbling oil. When it comes to filling, samosas will generally contain vegetables or mince, or a combination of both, mildly spiced with garam masala or other spice blends. Our lamb samosas can be made ahead and frozen, ready to pop in the oven for your next curry night. If you're a slave to the deep fry, you're bound to love crumbly bhajis and nibble-worthy pakoras, too.
Indian cuisine excels in many fields, but when it comes to pickles and chutneys, it seriously knocks the ball out of the park. Shop-bought products are often super saccharine, so try our easy mango chutney for a stunning homemade version. Specialist supermarkets are a great place to source condiments like tamarind-rich chutneys and super-potent mango and lime pickle. For those nights when you reach for the chutney only to discover you’re running low, we have instant recipes for you to replicate that tangy, sweet flavour. Our fresh tomato chutney is a little like salsa, while our pea green herb chutney is made from coriander, mint, roasted pistachios and green chilli.
With all the myriad flavours having a spicy jig on your tongue, what’s ultimately needed to mellow out a curry spread is something yogurt-based and neutral. Our raita is a classic creamy accompaniment, although we also have less authentic but equally as delicious versions with beetroot, orange and fig. Check out our raita recipe collection for more inspiration.
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What do you like to serve with your curry? Have we missed anything off? Let us know...