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Have any of you ordered a roti or plain rice in a restaurant? Has there been a situation, where you visit a nice restaurant, order an idly, and you are served only idly? Would you visit the same restaurant again? Anyone likes to eat a plain rice or a plain chapathi, or even a plain dosa or idly or Upma or noodles without any accompaniment? How boring and unappealing that would be!!! Any dish that we cook or eat needs an accompaniment or what we Indians commonly call, a side dish. Though we call it as a side dish, I personally think it is the main dish, because the rice or chapathi can be relished only when there is an apt side dish to eat it along with. Our taste buds are so much used to the side dishes that in its absence a morsel of rice or a bit of chapathi wouldn't go into our mouth.
So, what is a side dish? Is it tough to make? Will it take a lot of time? These are some questions which will run in a beginners mind. Side dish is any accompaniment dish with which we eat and relish the main dish. It is very easy and quick to make and we can invent umpteen variations using our imagination and creativity. Side dishes are a great way to incorporate vegetables in its best taste into our diet. We can customize our side dishes according to an individual's taste.
The preparation of a side dish largely depends on the main course we eat it along with and the region we belong to. I have listed out some dishes here, some of which are traditionally made by our parents and some are new creative variations. All the recipes listed below has been tried by me, tasted by many friends on several occasions and has also been appreciated by all of them.
Vegetable Fry (Sauteed, Stir-fried and Fried Vegetables)
In Tamil, these are called as the “vadhakkal curry”. Here the vegetables like potato, brinjal, coccina, colocaesia (seppa kezhangu), elephant yam (senai kezhangu), ladies finger, and raw banana are chopped and shallow fried with some spices added. These go very well with variety rice like lemon rice, coconut rice, sambhar sadam or bisibela, carrot rice etc.
Poriyal is nothing but a south Indian style of stir fried vegetables with some tempering and coconut. Vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, carrot, beans, cluster beans or kottharangai, broad beans or avaraikkai are used to make this style of side dish. These go very well with spicy main course dishes like sambhar rice, tamarind rice and even rasam.
Subzis (Bhaji) & Veg. Masalas
These are made using the onion and tomatoes as the basal ingredient with some spices added. These go very well with chappathi or parathas or even ghee rice and jeera rice varieties.
Salads and Pachadis
They are the most nutritive and my favorite of the side dishes. These are made with curd as the basic ingredient. Here no cooking or minimal cooking is done. These go well with both chapathi and rice varieties.
Vegetables with Lentils
As the name suggests, here the lentils are soaked, ground and boiled and added with vegetables with tempering. These can be eaten as a solo meal by diet watchers, as it’s a perfect combination of proteins and fiber.
Restaurant Specials & Party Sides
These are inspired from my restaurant visit and they can be eaten as both starter and side dish.
Other Veg. Side Dishes
They are my innovations and discoveries in my lab. One has to try and taste the same.