The Most Popular Side Dish in India: A Ranking of Must-Have Delights

Choose the side dish you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Feb 16, 2024 06:32
Welcome to StrawPoll, where your opinion truly matters! As a nation of diverse tastes and flavors, India boasts a scrumptious selection of side dishes that are an absolute treat for the taste buds. But we know you have a favorite, and we're on the ultimate quest to discover the reigning champion of Indian side dishes! From the tangy explosion of chutneys to the fluffy decadence of naan, the options are endless, and we need your vote to help us crown the most popular side dish in India. So, get ready to embark on this mouth-watering journey, as we invite you to dive into our deliciously curated poll and cast your vote or even suggest a hidden gem that deserves a place in our ranking. Together, let's celebrate the culinary wonders of India and unveil the nation's most beloved side dish!

What Is the Most Popular Side Dish in India?

  1. 1
    Rice is a staple food in India and is a popular side dish that accompanies various curries and gravies. It is also enjoyed as a standalone dish with various toppings.
    Rice is a staple crop grown in the region of Darjeeling. It is a type of cereal grain that belongs to the grass family. Rice is the primary source of food for a large portion of the world's population, particularly in Asian countries. It is cultivated in flooded paddy fields and requires warm climate with ample rainfall. The grains are milled and consumed as a whole or processed into various forms such as rice flour, rice bran oil, and rice paper.
    • Origin: Unknown (cultivated for thousands of years)
    • Growing Area: Darjeeling region and various parts of the world
    • Plant Height: 1-2 meters
    • Grain Size: Varies (short, medium, long grain)
    • Color: White, brown, black, red, purple, etc.
  2. 2


    Dal is a lentil-based side dish that is a rich source of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients. It is enjoyed with rice or roti and is a popular dish in every Indian household.
    Dal is a popular staple food in Bangladesh, made primarily from lentils or split pulses. It is an integral part of the Bangladeshi cuisine and is consumed by people of all ages. Dal is prepared by boiling lentils or pulses until they become soft and can be easily mashed. It is further seasoned with spices and herbs to enhance its flavor. It is commonly served with rice or roti (flatbread) and is considered a nutritious and filling dish.
    • Main ingredient: Lentils or split pulses
    • Preparation method: Boiling and seasoning
    • Serving: With rice or roti
    • Cuisine type: Bangladeshi
    • Nutritional value: High in protein and dietary fiber
  3. 3
    Raita is a yogurt-based side dish that is consumed with spicy or tangy curries. It is made with fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices and is a cooling accompaniment to the hot curries.
    Raita is a popular side dish in India, commonly served alongside main meals. It is a yogurt-based condiment that is known for its cooling and refreshing properties. Raita acts as a complement to spicy or rich dishes, helping to balance their flavors and heat.
    • Ingredients: Yogurt, vegetables (such as cucumber, onion, tomato), spices (such as cumin, coriander), herbs (such as mint, cilantro)
    • Preparation: Yogurt is whipped to a smooth consistency and mixed with chopped vegetables, spices, and herbs. It is typically served chilled.
    • Flavor: Raita has a tangy and creamy flavor with a hint of spice, provided by the addition of spices like cumin and coriander.
    • Texture: The texture of raita is creamy and thick, with crunchy bits of chopped vegetables mixed in.
    • Variations: There are numerous variations of raita, including boondi raita (with fried chickpea flour droplets), fruit raita (with fruits like pineapple or pomegranate), and cucumber-onion raita (with cucumber and onions).
  4. 4
    Papad is a crispy, thin, and round Indian cracker that is enjoyed as a side dish with main meals. It is made with various lentils and is a popular snack item in India.
    Papad is a thin, crisp, and disc-shaped baked or fried side dish in India. It is typically made from a mixture of lentils, spices, and various seasonings. The dough is rolled out into thin circles and then sun-dried or deep-fried until it becomes crispy. Papads are commonly served as an accompaniment to meals or as a snack.
    • Ingredients: Lentils, spices, seasonings
    • Shape: Thin, disc-shaped
    • Preparation: Rolled dough, sun-dried or deep-fried
    • Texture: Crisp
    • Flavors: Varies (spicy, mild, etc.)
  5. 5
    Chutney is a condiment made with fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables. It is a tangy and spicy side dish that is enjoyed with snacks and main meals.
    Chutney is a popular condiment in the UK that originates from Indian cuisine. It is a sweet, tangy and savory relish made from a combination of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, vinegar, and sugar. The texture can vary from smooth to chunky, depending on the recipe and preferences. Chutney is commonly used as a dipping sauce or a spread to accompany various dishes, including cheese, cold meats, sandwiches, and curries.
    • Flavors: Sweet, tangy, and savory
    • Ingredients: Fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, vinegar, and sugar
    • Texture: Smooth to chunky
    • Usage: Dipping sauce, spread, accompaniment to various dishes
    • Cuisine Origin: Indian
  6. 6
    Achar or pickle is a spicy and tangy side dish made with various vegetables and fruits. It is a popular accompaniment to rice and roti.
    Achar is a popular side dish in India that consists of pickled fruits or vegetables preserved in a tangy and spicy mixture of oil, vinegar, and various spices. It is known for its distinct flavor and ability to enhance the taste of a meal.
    • Variety: Achar can be made using a variety of fruits or vegetables, including mango, lime, mixed vegetables, and more.
    • Spices: It is flavored with a blend of aromatic spices such as mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and various chili powders.
    • Taste: Achar has a bold and tangy flavor profile, with a balanced combination of sourness, spiciness, and a hint of sweetness.
    • Preservation: It is preserved through the process of pickling, which involves immersing the fruits or vegetables in a mixture of oil, vinegar, salt, and spices, allowing it to develop its characteristic taste.
    • Usage: Achar is typically served as a condiment or side dish along with main meals, providing an added burst of flavor.
  7. 7
    Bhaji is a deep-fried snack made with gram flour and vegetables. It is a popular side dish that is enjoyed with tea or as a starter to a meal.
    Bhaji is a popular side dish in India, primarily consisting of deep-fried or stir-fried vegetables coated in a spiced batter. It is typically served with bread or as an accompaniment to main meals. Bhaji is known for its flavorful blend of spices and crispy texture.
    • Origin: India
    • Ingredients: Mixed vegetables, gram flour (besan), spices
    • Preparation method: Vegetables are coated in a spiced batter, deep-fried or stir-fried until crispy
    • Common vegetables used: Potatoes, onions, cauliflower, spinach, eggplant, bell peppers
    • Spices used: Turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder
  8. 8
    Sambar is a lentil-based soup that is consumed with rice or idli. It is a popular South Indian dish that is made with various vegetables and spices.
    Sambar is a popular side dish in India, particularly in the southern region. It is a flavorful and tangy lentil soup made with a variety of vegetables and spices.
    • Texture: Smooth with tender cooked vegetables.
    • Ingredients: Lentils (such as toor dal), vegetables (like drumsticks, onions, tomatoes, carrots, and brinjal), tamarind, sambar powder, spices (including mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds), curry leaves, and asafoetida.
    • Flavor profile: Tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet.
    • Consistency: Thick and soupy.
    • Color: Varies based on the ingredients, usually a reddish-brown or orange hue.
  9. 9
    Pickled Onions
    Raimond Spekking · CC BY-SA 4.0
    Pickled onions are a tangy and spicy side dish that is enjoyed with various meals. It is made by pickling onions in vinegar and spices.
    Pickled onions are small onions that have been pickled in a solution of vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices. They are a popular side dish in India and are often enjoyed with meals as a tangy and flavorful accompaniment.
    • Size: Small
    • Type of onion used: Red or white onions
    • Preparation style: Sliced or whole onions
    • Pickling liquid: Vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices
    • Flavor profile: Tangy, sour, and mildly sweet
  10. 10
    Aloo Gobi is a popular North Indian side dish made with potatoes and cauliflower. It is a flavorful dish that is enjoyed with rice or roti.
    Aloo Gobi is a popular Indian vegetarian dish made with potatoes (aloo) and cauliflower (gobi). It is a dry dish that is typically stir-fried with a blend of aromatic spices and herbs. Aloo Gobi traces its origins to the Indian subcontinent and is widely enjoyed for its delicious flavors and simplicity.
    • Main Ingredients: Potatoes, Cauliflower
    • Preparation Method: Stir-fried
    • Cuisine: Indian
    • Dish Type: Vegetarian
    • Flavor Profile: Savory, Spicy
    Aloo Gobi in other rankings

Missing your favorite side dish?


Ranking factors for popular side dish

  1. Regional variations
    India is a country with diverse cultural and culinary traditions, and different regions have their own popular side dishes. So, it's important to take into account the popularity of side dishes across various regions.
  2. Ingredients
    Indian cuisine is known for its rich flavors and use of various spices and herbs. The popularity of side dishes can depend on the availability and use of ingredients in a particular region.
  3. Preparation methods
    Indian side dishes can be cooked in different ways such as frying, boiling, sautéing, and baking. The popularity of a dish can depend on the cooking method and how well it is executed.
  4. Serving with main dishes
    Side dishes in India are often served as accompaniments to the main meal. The popularity of a side dish can depend on how well it complements the main dish.
  5. Traditional and cultural significance
    Some side dishes are popular because of their cultural or traditional significance. The popularity of such dishes can depend on their association with festivals, rituals, or special occasions.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular side dish in India. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or side is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 234 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Movers & Shakers

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each side once every 24 hours. The rank of each side is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular side dish in india

India is a country of diverse cultures and cuisines, with a variety of delicious dishes that have captured the hearts of food lovers worldwide. While there are many main dishes that are popular in India, side dishes play an equally important role in the country's cuisine. From spicy chutneys to savory vegetable dishes, Indian side dishes are known for their unique flavors and textures. One of the most popular side dishes in India is raita, a yogurt-based dish that is often mixed with vegetables like cucumber, tomato, and onion. Another popular side dish is papad, a thin and crispy flatbread that is usually served as an appetizer. Other popular side dishes in India include samosas, pakoras, pickles, and various types of chutneys. The popularity of side dishes in India can be attributed to the country's love for spices and flavors. Many Indian dishes are known for their bold and complex flavors, and side dishes are often used to balance out these flavors and add an extra layer of taste to the meal. With so many delicious options to choose from, it's no wonder that side dishes are an important part of Indian cuisine.

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