If you’re anything like me, there are few dishes that inspire more culinary excitement than a delicious plate of tikka masala.
That rich roasted flavor paired with the complex layers of spiciness—it’s no wonder this traditional Indian dish is beloved around the world.
But while it may be tempting to just stick to plain old basmati rice as a side, I think we can do better!
In this blog post, I’m going to walk you through 12 must-try side dishes for your next Tikka Masala dinner.
From classic vegetables and naan breads to a variety of salads and relishes, these sides will take your meal to new heights!
So let’s get started and explore what yummy accompaniments await us when serving up some Tikka Masala for dinner tonight!
What to Serve with Tikka Masala? 12 Must-try Side Dishes
1. Naan Bread
If you’re looking for the perfect side dish to accompany your tikka masala, look no further than naan bread.
Naan is a delicious, soft, and fluffy Indian flatbread that pairs beautifully with all sorts of curries and sauces.
Plus, it’s super easy to make at home.
When it comes to taste and texture, naan bread is very similar to pita bread.
However, what sets naan apart is its leavening agent (yeast or baking powder), which gives the bread a slightly chewy texture.
Naan is also traditionally baked in a tandoor oven, which gives it a smoky flavor that is absolutely delicious.
There are endless ways to elevate your naan bread dish.
One simple way is to brush the bread with some ghee (clarified butter) before serving.
You can also sprinkle on some chopped cilantro or green onions for extra flavor.
For a truly indulgent treat, try dipping your naan in some honey or making a garlic-butter spread to slather on top.
2. Rice Pilaf
Rice pilaf is a dish that is enjoyed by many people all over the world.
It is a simple dish that can be made in many different ways, but the most important thing about it is its taste and texture.
The rice should be cooked in such a way that it is fluffy and light yet still has some bite to it.
The best way to achieve this is to cook the rice in broth instead of water.
This will give it more flavor and make it moister.
You can also add some spices to the rice while it is cooking, such as cumin or turmeric.
Another way to elevate the dish is to add some vegetables to the mix.
This can be anything from peas and carrots to chopped-up tomatoes and onions.
Anything that you think would go well with the flavors of the dish.
Just make sure not to overcook the vegetables so that they are still crisp and fresh.
3. Cucumber Raita
Cucumber raita is a refreshing and cooling side dish that pairs perfectly with tikka masala.
The cucumbers are diced into small pieces and mixed with yogurt, spices, and herbs.
The result is a light and refreshing dish that helps balance out the spiciness of the tikka masala.
Cucumber raita has a refreshingly cool taste and a creamy texture.
The diced cucumbers add a slight crunch to the dish.
The best way to enjoy cucumber raita is to let the flavors meld together for a few minutes before eating.
This allows the spices to fully develop and enhances the overall flavor of the dish.
There are a few things you can do to elevate your cucumber raita.
One is to use fresh, local ingredients whenever possible.
This will ensure that your raita is full of flavor.
Another tip is to experiment with different spice combinations.
Adding a bit of cumin or garam masala can give your raita an extra boost of flavor.
Finally, be sure to adjust the amount of yogurt and spices to suit your taste preferences.
4. Spiced Lentils
Spiced lentils are a delicious, hearty side dish that pairs perfectly with tikka masala.
Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber, and they have a slightly nutty flavor that is enhanced by the spices in this dish.
The texture of the lentils is soft and creamy, making them a perfect contrast to the crispy chicken or lamb in the tikka masala.
There are several ways to elevate this dish and make it even more special.
One way is to use quality spices, such as fresh ginger, cumin, and garam masala.
Another way is to add some fresh herbs, such as cilantro or mint, for extra flavor.
Finally, you could top the spiced lentils with some chopped nuts or seeds for a bit of crunch.
5. Cabbage Stir Fry
Cabbage stir fry is a simple and delicious dish that can be enjoyed as a side or main.
The key to making a great cabbage stir fry is to get the right balance of flavor and texture.
The first thing you’ll want to do is choose your cabbage.
There are many different types of cabbage, so it’s important to pick one that will work well with the other ingredients in your dish.
For a traditional stir fry, you’ll want to use Napa cabbage.
This type of cabbage has a light, delicate flavor that pairs well with other strong flavors.
It also has a softer texture, which makes it easy to cook quickly without turning mushy.
Once you’ve chosen your cabbage, the next step is to prep your other ingredients.
If you’re using meat, make sure it’s cut into small pieces so that it cooks evenly.
You’ll also want to slice your vegetables thinly so they cook through without overcooking the cabbage.
Once everything is prepped, it’s time to start cooking.
Stir-frying is all about quick, high-heat cooking.
You’ll want to use a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
Add oil to the pan, and then add your ingredients in the order that they’ll need to cook.
Start with the hardiest vegetables like carrots and peppers, then add the softer ones like onions and mushrooms.
Finally, add the cabbage and any other greens last.
Stir everything frequently so that nothing burns or sticks to the pan.
Once everything is cooked through, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
6. Mango Chutney
Mango chutney is a sweet and tangy condiment made from mangoes, vinegar, sugar, and spices.
It is traditionally served with Indian foods such as curries and samosas, but can also be used as a sandwich spread or dips for appetizers.
Mango chutney is typically made from unripe mangoes that are peeled and chopped, then cooked down with vinegar, sugar, and spices until thickened.
The resulting chutney is sweet and tangy with a thick consistency.
It can be made mild or spicy, depending on your preferences.
To elevate this dish, try serving it with grilled chicken or fish.
The sweetness of the mango chutney will complement the smokiness of the grill perfectly.
You can also use it as a condiment for wraps or sandwiches.
If you want a spicier version, add some diced jalapeños or crushed red pepper flakes to the recipe.
7. Bombay Potatoes
Bombay potatoes are a classic side dish that is often served with tikka masala.
These potatoes are usually boiled or roasted and then seasoned with spices like cumin, turmeric, chili powder, and garam masala.
Bombay potatoes have a slightly sweet and sour taste and a soft, mushy texture.
There are many ways to elevate this dish and make it more interesting.
One way is to add fresh herbs like cilantro or mint.
Another way is to add some chopped onions or tomatoes.
You could also try roasting the potatoes instead of boiling them for a more intense flavor.
If you want to make this dish spicier, you could add more chili powder or use a hotter variety of chili pepper.
8. Green Beans with Almonds
Green beans are a classic side dish that can be served with just about anything.
But when you’re looking to elevate your meal, why not serve them with almonds? This simple addition will give your green beans a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture that is sure to please everyone at the table.
Almonds are a great way to add some extra protein and healthy fats to your diet.
They are also a good source of fiber, which can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied after a meal.
When shopping for almonds, be sure to look for ones that are raw or roasted.
Raw almonds will have a more delicate flavor, while roasted almonds will be more intense.
To prepare your green beans with almonds, simply blanch the green beans in boiling water for two minutes.
Then, drain them and place them in a bowl with the roasted almonds.
Toss the ingredients together until the green beans are evenly coated.
Serve immediately and enjoy.
9. Eggplant Bharta
Eggplant bharta is a delicious and hearty dish that is perfect for a winter meal.
The eggplant is cooked until it is soft and then mashed with spices to create a flavorful and rich dish.
Serve eggplant bharta with naan bread or rice for a complete meal.
Eggplant bharta has a rich and creamy texture that is perfect for a winter meal.
The eggplant is cooked until it is soft and then mashed with spices to create a flavorful and rich dish.
Tips on elevating the dish include adding more spices, using fresh herbs, or adding some chopped tomatoes for sweetness and acidity.
10. Spinach Saag
Spinach saag is a delicious and healthy side dish that can be enjoyed with tikka masala.
This dish is packed with nutrients and has a flavorful, slightly sweet taste.
The texture of spinach saag is smooth and creamy, making it a perfect complement to the spiciness of tikka masala.
To elevate this dish, try adding some chopped onion, garlic, and ginger to the spinach before cooking.
You can also add a pinch of garam masala or turmeric for extra flavor.
If you want a bit of heat, try adding a small amount of cayenne pepper.
Serve spinach saag with basmati rice, and enjoy.
11. Steamed Basmati Rice
Basmati rice is a long grain, aromatic rice that originates from India.
It has a nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture.
Basmati rice is typically used in Indian and Pakistani cuisine and can be used in a variety of dishes, including curries, biryani, and rice pudding.
Basmati rice is best cooked using the absorption method.
This means adding the rice to a pot of boiling water and then covering the pot so that the water can be absorbed by the grains.
Once the water is absorbed, fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
To elevate your dish, try cooking the basmati rice in chicken or beef broth instead of water.
You can also add some aromatics to the pot, such as garlic, ginger, or cumin.
12. Lamb Korma
Lamb korma is a delicious, rich dish that is perfect for a special occasion.
The key to making a great lamb korma is to cook the meat until it is melt-in-your-mouth tender.
This dish is also traditionally served with a side of rice or naan bread.
There are a few things you can do to elevate your lamb korma dish.
First, try using fresh ginger and garlic instead of powdered ginger and garlic.
This will give the dish a more authentic flavor.
You can also try adding some chopped-up onion and tomatoes to the dish for an extra pop of color and flavor.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices.
Some good options include cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom.
In conclusion, there are many delicious side dishes that go well with tikka masala.
Naan bread, rice pilaf, cucumber raita, spiced lentils, cabbage stir fry, mango chutney, Bombay potatoes, green beans with almonds, eggplant bharta, spinach saag, steamed basmati rice, and lamb korma are all great choices.
With so many delicious options, it’s hard to go wrong.
So, next time you’re making tikka masala, be sure to try one (or all) of these fantastic side dishes.