From flatbreads like naan to rice dishes—essential to soaking up soupy curries or dals—to the country’s wide array of chutneys, raitas, and pickles, these side dishes, condiments, and breads round out any Indian table.
Green, unripe mangos are simmered with cardamom and clove to yield this tangy, spicy condiment. Smita Chandra, who wrote about her mother’s homemade pickles in Preserving Culture, slathers it atop flaky paratha flatbreads. See the recipe for Aamba Khatta (Sweet and Sour Mango Pickle) » James Roper
A salt and spice cure transforms fresh citrus into tart, briny pickles that perk up many Indian meals. Smita Chandra uses them as a condiment to punch up soft naan flatbreads and steamed white rice.
On the Indian table, where utensils are rare, flatbreads sop up soupy dishes and wrap morsels of food. The everyday flatbread is chapati, also known as roti, a pliant round made from whole wheat flour dough that is cooked on a dry skillet and then inflated and browned over an open flame. See the recipe for Chapatis (Whole Wheat Indian Flatbread) » James Roper
This zippy raita gets its punch from green Thai chiles and its sweetness from pineapple. A piquant mixture of black mustard seeds, dried red chiles, and curry leaves lends the sauce an earthy spice.
Get the recipe for Spicy Pineapple Yogurt (Kaitha Chaka Pachadi) »
This Indian chutney uses an array of ingredients, blending yellow split peas with coconut, cilantro, ginger, and chile.
This fragrant sauce is great with dosas, the fermented lentil and rice crêpes common in south India. It’s dead simple to make, using just a few vibrant ingredients to deliver big flavor: Fresh curry leaves form the base, with sweetness from jaggery (an unrefined sugar), spice from ginger, and sourness from tamarind.
This basic raita is a cooling counterpoint to fiery foods, thanks to its foundation of full-fat yogurt, cucumber, and mint. Plum tomatoes add a hint of acid, Thai chiles heat, and cumin a slight earthiness.
When author VK Sreelesh’s in-laws get together in the South Indian state of Kerala, they prepare traditional Keralan dishes such as this beet thoran, which his mother-in-law, Shyamala, and her cousin Jayanti make with tender ruby-red beets that are stir-fried with chiles, turmeric, and coconut oil. Shreelesh and his family devour the dish with rice, watching as the white grains turn a deep crimson red. See the recipe for Beetroot Thoran (South Indian Beet Stir-Fry) » James Roper
Green mango and aromatic mint combine to delicious effect for this tart, refreshing Indian purée. Green Thai chiles lend a spicy note, while cumin and the garlic-like powder asafoetida give an earthy backbone to the condiment.
Unlike some other staple Indian breads, which are unleavened and crafted from durum wheat flour, or atta, fluffy naan is made with all-purpose flour and yeast. Traditionally, the dough is slapped against the chimney wall of a clay tandoor oven and baked over wood fires, but many home cooks make it on the stovetop.
When writer VK Sreelesh visits his in-laws’ house in the south Indian state of Kerala, papaya thoran is almost always on the table. Thoran is usually a dried dish that is mixed and eaten with rice; its ingredients can range from cabbage to beans to carrots to beets. For this papaya version, minced green papaya is first steamed and then mixed with robust coconut and chile paste, and spiced with cumin seeds, garlic, and turmeric. See the recipe for Papaya Thoran (Keralan-Style Fried Green Papaya) » James Oseland
The foundation for this common Indian flatbread is the same dough that is used for
— chapati atta, or durum wheat flour, mixed with water. The key difference, which creates the paratha’s signature layers, is rolling and folding the dough in a triangle. The chewy flatbread is then dry-cooked in a skillet until puffy and golden.
Like chapati, puri is made from a simple durum wheat flour dough. But this flatbread incorporates ajwain seeds, which lend a lightly herbal, floral flavor, and is deep-fried in hot oil. It’s often eaten at breakfast or as a snack.
Get the recipe for Deep-Fried Indian Bread (Puri) »
This five-ingredient Indian condiment from home cook Yamini Joshi is a snap to make, thanks to flavor-packed tamarind paste and the spice blend sambar masala. Serve it with dosas. See the recipe for Red Chutney » Ingalls Photography
This simple but flavorful dish of fried eggplant and onions is served with a vinegar-spiked tomato sauce.
Get the recipe for Eggplant in Tomato Sauce »
These flavorful mashed potatoes are spiced with mustard seeds, fresh curry leaves, turmeric, and ginger, and mixed with peas.
Get the recipe for Aloo Masala (South Indian Potatoes) »
As cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey discovered while traveling through the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, palakoora vepadu, fresh spinach sautéed with aromatics such as cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, and turmeric, is a staple in South Indian messes (mess halls). See the recipe for Palakoora Vepadu (Andhra-Style Sautéed Spinach) » Ingalls Photography
In coastal South India, coconuts are used for a variety of dishes, including this sumptuous ivory-colored and nutty-flavored chutney. This version is made with yellow split peas, grated coconut, and green Thai chiles, and is traditionally served with , South Indian fermented lentil and rice crêpes. dosas See the recipe for Thengai Chutney (Coconut Chutney) » Farideh Sadeghin
Bananas and grapes are sweetened with jaggery—lump cane sugar—and seasoned with black pepper and sulphurous volcanic black salt in this spiced fruit chutney from the north of India. The Gupta family, Marwari Hindus from Mathura who are strict vegetarians, like to make it to go alongside dal, semolina breads, and vegetable masalas. See the recipe for Sonth (Marwari Masala-Spiced Fruit Chutney) » Ariana Lindquist
This brisk salad spiced with chiles and cumin comes to us from the Gupta family, Marwari Hindus from the northern Indian town of Mathura. Followers of Krishna, they observe a strict vegetarian diet; this simple, lively side dish makes a frequent appearance on their table. See the recipe for Marwari Radish and Tomato Salad » Ariana Lindquist
Okra is cooked until crisp for this dish flavored with garam masala. See the recipe for Bhindi Masala (North Indian Okra Stir-Fry) » Ariana Lindquist
This creamy spiced rice is a staple dish of the Pongal harvest festival in Southern India.
Get the recipe for Indian Curd Rice »
Indian Lime Rice
Flavored with sweet plum tomatoes and aromatic spices, this rice dish is perfect alongside roast chicken.
Get the recipe for Indian Tomato Rice »
Porous lotus root sops up spiced yogurt gravy in this Kashmiri specialty.
Often served in South India as thevasam, or memorial, food, this curry is flavored with a simple combination of sesame seeds and black peppercorns, instead of the more lively spice blends used in everyday cooking. See the recipe for Yellu Molaghu Vazhaipazham (Plantain with Sesame Seeds and Peppercorns) » Ingalls Photography
At the Indian table, a variety of yogurt-based raitas mollify the tongue-searing effect of chiles. This version, made fruity and sweet with the addition of coconut and banana, is adapted from
Foods of the World: The Cooking of India (Time Life, 1969). Get the recipe for Yogurt with Banana and Grated Coconut »
This creamy yogurt-based chutney is made with cilantro, lime, and fresh green chiles.
Get the recipe for Cilantro Yogurt Chutney »