What To Serve With Chicken Tikka Masala? 6 Classic Side Dishes You Can Even Make At Home

Chicken Tikka Masala is a super classic Indian curry recipe, and arguably one of the most popular out there. People love the combination of the textural chicken with the creamy sauce.

If you aren’t super comfortable with spice this is a dish worth considering as it is more of a medium or even lightly spiced dish.

What To Serve With Chicken Tikka Masala 5 Classic Side Dishes You Can Even Make At Home

Ironically, Tikka Masala is not really a classic Indian recipe. While you can get it in Indian restaurants due to its popularity, it isn’t commonly eaten in Indian home cooking.

It was actually created in Glasgow, Scotland, by a Bengali immigrant working in an Indian restaurant in the UK. He basically added some more Western ingredients to make the dish more appealing to the UK audience, and it worked.

Now it’s a popular dish in nearly every Indian restaurant around the world where it is very commonly served alongside a huge array of side dishes, as per Indian eating culture.

We will cover some of the best side dishes out there to pair with Chicken Tikka Masala, wherever you are. 

Keep reading to learn more about Indian eating culture, as well as Tikka Masala.

Why Serve Side Dishes With Curry?

In Indian homes, as well as in Indian restaurants, the idea of a curry is pretty simple and only really describes the sauced meat and or vegetables.

Put another way, rice is not actually part of curry really, in India, and many other countries in the East, rice comes with pretty much everything and is a huge staple in their culture.

So, serving side dishes with a curry is very common and rice is often one of them, although many of those who traditionally eat curry may also not even have rice but one of these other side dishes.

In a practical sense, you want something else, ideally a carbohydrate, to help soak up the sauce and mop it up as well as provide textural contrast – like biscuits and gravy, it just makes sense.

The Classic and Best Side Dishes For Chicken Tikka Masala

1. Rice

As we mentioned, while, as Westerners, we see curry and rice as one thing, curry is often served on its own, with rice as a potential side dish.

There are so many varieties of rice that you can have with curry, each with their own qualities. 

  • Basmati Rice is a scented, white, long-gain that has a particularly unique smell and fragrance thanks to its manufacture. It’s arguably the most common rice you might get in an Indian restaurant and is good if you don’t want any strong added flavor.
  • Pilau Rice is basically the same as Basmati Rice but is a more fragrant and purposefully seasoned rice. It is most associated with cardamom in terms of flavoring, which is quite perfumy, but is also flavored with other spices like cumin, and most notably turmeric which provides its yellow color.

These are arguably the two most common and best rice to pair with TIkka Masala, an Indian dish.

2. Naan

Naan is a type of flat leavened bread, often traditionally cooked in a tandoor. It is very commonly served in Indian restaurants, and available widely in stores, and is arguably the best carb to soak up all the curry sauce.

People love naan bread because of its ability to mop up sauce, but also for its variety. In most Indian restaurants you can get an array of naan with different flavorings

  • Peshwari Naan is a sweeter version of the original bread, which is traditionally plain, that is filled with a layer of sugar and other sweet elements like raisins or even coconut. It brings a sweet, although not overpowering, element to a Tikka Masala which is already pretty creamy and sweet.
  • Garlic Naan is a very popular naan that is essentially Indian garlic bread. It’s effectively your classic naan recipe but simply with garlic butter melted on top, what more is there to say – it’s a winner with most people and most Indian curries.
  • Keema Naan is another popular bread to serve with curry that has minced a layer of minced lamb inside. Ideal if you want to add a moreish element, but can often be enjoyed best on its own or with dips and chutneys.

3. Samosas

A samosa is a fried Indian pastry, quite similar to hand pie in the US or an Empanada in Latin countries. The pastry dough is quite brittle and crispy like filo pastry but with more flavor.

The filling is commonly potatoes, herbs, peas, spices, and onions. They are really satisfying, like a small, individual pie, and are a great accompaniment to the flavorings of curry, ideal even as a starter, or just to bulk the meal up a bit.

Like naan bread, due to their popularity in restaurants, you can get lots of different types of samosa filling with different meat, cheese, or vegetable fillings.

4. Bhaji

A Bhaji, commonly an onion bhaji, although they come in many varieties, is essentially a kind of Indian fritter. Rather than dough that encases vegetables, like a samosa, a bhaji is instead a ball of vegetables that is then deep fried like a fritter.

It’s worth noting that ‘pakora’ is a term that can be used interchangeably here, the choice of which term you use will depend on the geographical region you are in.

They go great with a curry and provide a crunchy but bite-worthy textural contrast that is really satisfying and provides a richer element to the curry’s flavors.

The most common bhaji is an onion bhaji, although they could theoretically have a whole host of fillings in them.

5. Poppadom (Pappadum)

The poppadom, as it has most often been referred to in the West, although is commonly pronounced and spelt differently in its traditional region, is another common accompaniment to a curry.

They are basically a large potato chip. If you imagine a single potato chip, a poppadom is about triple or quadruple the size, served as one large disc.

Rather than being made from potato, though, they are made from a type of flour derived from various pulses such as lentils.

They are commonly served at the start of a meal in the West, along with chutneys, but in their traditional setting and in home cooking most people use the poppadom as another sauce gathering vessel.

The crispy, lip smacking saltiness, is perfect with the rich sweet Tikka Masala flavors.

6. Saag Aloo

Saag Aloo is theoretically a Punjabi curry in its own right, however it is very commonly served as a side dish in Western recreations of Indian cooking. It’s often served in a small portion as a side dish so people can try a variety of Indian cuisine.

Put simply, Saag Aloo is very commonly a combination of potatoes and spinach, with various spices.

As most South Asian cooking is vegetarian, usually as a result of being based in Hindu culture rather than Islam, they don’t eat a lot of meat, with it also being an expensive commodity in India. 

As a lot of their curries are vegetarian, albeit not the Tikka Masala we are talking about, they often bulk their dishes up with these additions of potato, as well as spinach for protein.

Saag is actually a type of curry in itself, the latter Punjab term refers to a curry where the main ingredient is stewed alongside a variety of leafy greens although commonly spinach, Saag Paneer is another popular side dish where a hard cheese is similarly combined with spinach and greens.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are some classic go-to side dishes to have when eating curry, Tikka Masala, or any other variety.

Many Americans won’t know what to eat alongside curry beyond rice, being Western influenced, many Americans won’t have heard of these recipes, while Indian culture is much more prevalent in Europe. 

Not only are they easy to make at home, and can show us a world of new cooking techniques and flavor combinations, these side dishes are classics for a reason as they each present their own unique textural or flavor companion to the spicy and sweet Tikka Masala curry.

Try these side dishes today, in your local restaurant, from your local store, or at home!

What To Serve With Chicken Tikka Masala? 6 Classic Side Dishes You Can Even Make At Home

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Sides


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