Pair Indian Dishes like a Pro

An assortment of Indian dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian served in a thali.

Pair Indian Dishes like a Pro

 Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission.

Hey there, foodies! If you’re a fan of Indian cuisine, and you’ve just started cooking it at home, knowing how to pair Indian dishes can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. But fear not! In this blog post, I will share some insider tips to help you become a pro at pairing Indian dishes while considering various dietary considerations. From non-onion, non-garlic options to gluten-free and vegan alternatives, I’ve got you covered.

So let’s dive into the world of spices and flavors, accommodating everyone’s preferences and dietary needs, and take your Indian culinary adventures to new heights!

1. Consider the Heat Level

If you like your food spicy, balance is the name of the game! When pairing dishes, take into account the heat level and consider options for those who might prefer milder flavors.

If you’ve made a spicy chicken curry, choose a milder dish like shrimp with coconut curry and a creamy dal like Kaali Dal, or a light summery dal like Aam Dal. A refreshing raita will also go well. You want to offer fluffy, long Basmati rice to go with this as well as some gluten-free and vegan options that are also non-onion and non-garlic. For instance, a cabbage curry, Adraki Gobi, and a crisp salad. This not only balances the heat but also caters to those who prefer gluten-free, vegan, low FODMAP and non-onion, non-garlic options.

Sample Menu

A shorter version of the same menu would be white rice, Kaali Daal, Butter Chicken (mild), Cabbage curry, green salad and Kheer. If you know you have a guest with low FODMAP and they usually are sensitive to onions and garlic you could opt for Chana Dal.

2. Think about Flavors and Textures

A bunch of mouthwatering Indian curries and an Indian barbecue served with naan.

Creating an interesting and thoughtful Indian food menu goes beyond dietary considerations and heat levels. Consider the flavors and textures of Indian dishes when pairing dishes to create well-rounded meals that can be enjoyed by everyone.

For instance, if you’re serving a rich and creamy butter chicken, offer a vegan alternative like saag paneer (or saag tofu). Pair it with a light and refreshing cucumber salad or vegan raita to add a burst of freshness. This combination ensures that both non-vegetarians and vegans can savor delicious Indian cuisine, each with their respective preferences and keeps the moth feel experience varied.

3. Pair with Rice or Gluten-Free Options

Fluffy, white gluten free Basmati rice in a yellow bowl on a marble background with a blue napkin in the foreground.

People like naan and often pair this with various Indian dishes. It’s essential though to provide alternatives for those following gluten-free diets. By offering suitable substitutes, you can ensure that everyone can enjoy a wholesome Indian meal.

Pair your dishes with fragrant basmati rice as a gluten-free option or Peas Pulao or Peas and Carrots pulao.

4. Consider Your Appetizers carefully

A tangy, flavorful delicious gluten free appetizer made with potato patties, spiced yogurt sauce and green and tamarind chutneys.

I like to serve appetizers that don’t stuff my guests so much so that they spoil their appetite for dinner. It’s also important to keep in mind that people are usually hungry when they arrive so it’s important to offer something a bit substantial and filling. I like offering samosas paired with tamarind chutney, or some kind of zesty, spicy street food like ALoo Tikki Chaat or Jhaal Muri, or plain Aloo Tikki. Keep in mind that if you are new to putting an entire Indian menu together it’s perfectly fine to supplement cooked items with catered items. I often cater samosas and naan and perhaps some tandoori chicken from a local Indian restaurant to keep my labor and overwhelm down. You can do the same.

Also offer one substantial appetizer with a drink. It can be mango lassi or chai or just a glass of your favorite wine.

5. Easy Indian Drinks to Offer Your Guests

Most people like mango lassi as well as the kids and it can easily be made vegan. I usually have a regular option and a vegan option available. Or you can make Chai if it’s for a smaller group. In the summer you can make Aam Panna or Indian lemonade (Nimbu Pani).

5. My Favorite 3- course Indian Menu for 6

Every year, I offer a three-course dinner for 6 as an auction item for two of my favorite non-profits for their fundraising galas, and below is the menu I usually offer:

Drink and Appetizer

Mango Lassi (both regular and vegan)


Tamarind Chutney

Main Course

Peas and Carrots Pulao

Kaali Dal

Chicken curry or Butter Chicken Masala

Adraki Gobi

Cucumber and Tomato Salad


Rice Kheer with saffron, and almonds

There you have it! With these detailed tips and considerations, you’re well-equipped to pair Indian dishes like a pro while respecting specific dietary needs. Whether your guests follow a non-onion, non-garlic diet, require gluten-free alternatives, or prefer vegan options, there’s something for everyone in the world of Indian cuisine.

So hop into your kitchen, unleash the flavors of Indian spices, and create unforgettable culinary experiences that cater to diverse dietary preferences. Remember to adapt the pairings according to individual tastes and specific dietary restrictions.

Happy cooking, foodies, and enjoy exploring the world of Indian cuisine!

Written by:

HI! IM MISH. nice to meet you! My mission is to lower barriers and show you that cooking delicious Indian food is much simpler than you think. Let's get started on this culinary adventure together, and bring the joy of Indian flavors to your home!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.