15 Rocking Sides to Serve with Tandoori Chicken
Just the words tandoori chicken evoke the smell of a multitude of spices wafting in a gentle, smoky breeze. The combination of the cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic, cardamom, lemon juice, and paprika is enough to bring a joyful tear to the eye.
Traditionally this stunning Indian chicken dish was made in a cylindrical tandoor. But, because that’s not something we typically have in the kitchen or backyard (although, who wouldn’t want one?), now you see tandoori chicken made on a grill or in a screaming hot oven.
But, as you’re planning your next barbecue, you may wonder, “what to serve with tandoori chicken?” Well, there’s a multitude of sides that pair mouthwateringly well with this beautifully charred chicken, so let’s give them some loving attention too.
Whether its bright-as-sunshine turmeric rice, lemony dilly tzatziki, flavorful flatbread, or puffy, puffy, popovers – we’ve got your sides recipes covered for the next barbecue!
1. Aloo Samosas
When cooked potatoes are tossed with green peas and spices, you get some magic in a pan.
When the potato mixture is enveloped in dough and deep fried, you get some magic on a plate.
When the fried samosas are sharing a plate with tandoori chicken – you have something to write home about!
2. Tandoori Chicken Salad
You may wonder, “what goes well with tandoori chicken?” And my response is, “tandoori chicken!”
Why not transform your main dish into its own accompaniment by roughly chopping your tandoori chicken and serving it on greens and veggies.
When you top the salad with a cucumber-based yogurt dressing with dill, mint, or cilantro, you have the lunch of champions.
3. Turmeric Rice (Pilau Rice)
Earthy and mildly bitter turmeric provides the delectable flavor for this bright and bold side dish. And cooking the rice in chicken broth – rather than water – doubles down on the savory notes of the rice.
Do you know who loves turmeric rice? Chicken tandoori, that’s who.
Once you get your hands on a bowl of tzatziki, you’ll be hard pressed to let it go.
“It’s mine! You get your spoon out of there!”
Tzatziki can turn the most gentle and sharing of souls, into a greedy curmudgeon.
But, that’s okay. Because, tzatziki.
The combination of thick Greek yogurt, lemon, grated cucumber, and dill is the perfect dipping sauce for tandoori chicken.
Don’t take our word for it, whip up a couple of batches.
One batch for you, the other batch for someone you love.
Flavorful, charred, and irresistible.
Note: All three of those words apply to both tandoori chicken and naan. (Well, except naan also gets the adjective “fluffy” thrown in for good measure.)
The bread is made with yogurt, which is why the pieces are so soft and pliable.
Fun fact: These flatbreads are pure heaven hot from the skillet.
6. Lentil Dal
You love lentil dal, I love lentil dal, so – of course – tandoori chicken will love lentil dal.
The explosion of earthy and bright flavors combine with a bit of heat, making it just the right thing to round out the meal.
Fun fact: You don’t just have to enjoy the dal the night you make it. It freezes like a dream for all of your future tandoori endeavors.
Raita is tzatziki’s equally charismatic and beautiful cousin. They both use yogurt, although raita uses regular yogurt, not the thick and full-bodied Greek yogurt which makes it thinner.
Also, raita gets its flavor from mint or cilantro – not dill.
So, when thinking about sides for your tandoori chicken, you may want to pull together a quick batch of raita.
And Sylvia over at Feasting From Home has a fabulous recipe for the tangy dip. We guarantee you’ll love it.
8. Roasted Rainbow carrots
When you see a plate of tandoori chicken enveloped by stunning and sweet rainbow carrots – well – you know you’re sitting at the right table for maximum eye-popping color, and melt-in-your mouth flavor.
The garlic, lemon, and ginger in the chicken pair perfectly with the bright carrots, so dig in and enjoy!
If flatbreads are a delicious accompaniment to tandoori chicken, wouldn’t the opposite hold true too?
I mean, c’mon. Big, fluffy, and crunchy on the outside, but pillowy on the inside – popovers are where it’s at!
So, pull those eggs out of the fridge, and get that butter melting. Tandoori chicken has a luvah, and it’s this top-heavy bread product.
10. Quick-Pickled Vegetables
Crunchy quick-pickled vegetables (AKA “quickles”) are the brazenly colorful embodiment of the “stand up and take notice” flavor combo for tandoori chicken.
Because they’re not processed in the brine, they maintain their punchy flavors and textures.
Cucumber and onions are the norm for quickles, but search your produce drawer for something a little different. Baby carrots, jalapenos, scallions, or radishes would be pretty rocking with tandoori chicken too.
11. Curry Lemon Rice (Pullao)
When you combine lemon, curry leaves, and basmati rice – you get sheer perfection. And the perfect plate-mate for tandoori chicken.
The ginger in the chicken cozies up to the curry in the rice.
The cumin in the chicken says, “How do you do?” to the lemon in the rice.
And all of them do-si-do round and round the plate in total harmony.
12. Chimichurri Sauce
If raita plays amazingly well with tandoori chicken, wouldn’t a big and bold mint and parsley chimichurri also have a prized spot on the plate?
The slightly briny and sweet interplay between the red wine vinegar and the spices in the tandoori makes the tongue tingle in joy.
And of course, the mint and parsley bring a brightness to the sauce, that makes it spoon-licking good.
13. Bombay Potatoes
When it comes to tandoori sides, who can resist the sunny hue of Bombay potatoes? They’re quickly boiled in turmeric water, and can be fried or roasted with mustard seeds to make them a textural delight.
Fluffy on the inside, and doubly crunchy on the outside. Oh, yes. These guys are pretty much the definition of “textural delight.”
And you really want these in your weeknight repertoire!
Linda over at The Wanderlust Kitchen has a great recipe to get you started.
14. Roasted Butternut Squash
You may be thinking, “roasted butternut squash? Isn’t that a little banal?”
To which I say, au contraire mon frère!
The sweetness of roasted squash has a cheerful interplay with the ginger in the tandoori chicken. They love each other. They intuit what the other needs.
Also, the combination of the colors on the plate is an out-of-this-world visual delight.
15. Creamy Cilantro Sauce
When yogurt and cilantro come to town, they come in with colors and flavors a-blazin’!
Creamy yogurt brought together with fresh and citrusy cilantro make the base of this sauce. It’s lovingly rounded out with garlic and a kiss of olive oil.
And all those flavors nestle next to tandoori chicken for a fresh combination of loveliness.
If you like serving chicken tandoori, you might also like our list of chicken marsala side dish recipes. Can chicken get any better with these two meals?