If you love curry, but aren’t a big fan of rice, we’ve got some great news for you!
There are tons of other foods that pair perfectly with curry—and, in many cases, are even better than rice.
The thing is… Sometimes, you don’t want rice.
Whether it’s because you’re trying to eat more whole grains, or you need to stay away from gluten and rice has gluten in it, or because you just want to try something new and fun, sometimes the best thing is to give your body what it needs—and sometimes that means taking a break from rice.
So here’s a list of 15 foods that go great with curry instead of rice!
What to Serve with Curry Instead of Rice
If you’re looking for ways to spice up your curry game, here’s a quick list of alternatives to the typical rice accompaniment:
Cauliflower rice is a great substitute for regular rice in your curry dish because it’s mild enough to absorb all the flavors of the curry without overpowering them.
It also has a consistency similar to regular rice when cooked right.
If you’ve never made cauliflower rice before, don’t worry!
It’s really simple.
You just have to pulse raw cauliflower florets in a food processor until they’re broken down into tiny pieces and then sauté them in a pan until they’re soft enough to eat—usually about five minutes on medium heat.
This is a good option if you’re trying to reduce your carb-intake, if you’ve got vegetarians in the room, or if you just feel like something else!
Roasting veggies beforehand is the way to go here—you’ll get a nice crunch and some flavor contrast that will give your curry a bit of complexity.
- Try cutting up some carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, and potatoes into bite-sized pieces.
- Toss them in oil and salt, then roast at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.
- Once they’re ready, just toss them into your curry dish before serving.
If you like spice, don’t be afraid to add an extra kick of cayenne pepper to your roasted vegetables before roasting to really bring out their flavor!
When you’re looking for a way to serve curry that doesn’t use rice, quinoa is an excellent option. You can prepare it in the same way as you would prepare rice, and it’s easy to swap out one for the other in any recipe.
Just cook your quinoa like you would normally cook your rice, then follow the directions on whatever curry dish you’re making.
For best results, try using white quinoa instead of red—it has the same taste without the red-speckled look.
When you’re tired of your usual curry sides, couscous is a great option!
Many people don’t think about couscous as the main ingredient in a meal, but it works wonderfully in curry.
The taste and texture hold up well to the sauce, and it’s so simple to prepare it’s practically foolproof.
Before you get started, consider these tips for making the most out of your couscous:
- Once you’ve prepared your couscous, add a few handfuls of spinach or kale for an extra protein and vitamin boost.
- For best results, use a whole wheat or whole grain variety of couscous.
Next up: zucchini noodles! These are so versatile and perfect for anyone trying to cut down on their carbs intake. You can also use them as a replacement for pasta if you’re looking for a healthier alternative.
They’re super easy to make and add a fresh, crisp taste to your curry dish.
Here’s how to do it:
- Grab a spiralizer or vegetable peeler. If you don’t have one of these tools, you can also use a vegetable peeler (with a blade that creates long, thin strips) or even just a knife to cut thin slices lengthwise, which will also create noodles.
- Cut the ends off each zucchini, then attach the zucchini to the spiralizer according to the instructions provided with your tool. The spiralizer will create long strands of spiraled zucchini “noodles.”
- Heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1 clove minced garlic (optional). Add the zucchini noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes until slightly wilted but still crunchy.
- Once cooked, remove from heat and serve immediately as a healthy side dish for your curry dish!
Another great option is cabbage rolls, which can be a great fit in a meal if you’re craving something different.
To prepare them, cook your cabbage in a pot of boiling water until the leaves are soft and able to be rolled up. Then, remove the leaves from the heat, fill them with your choice of filling (there are tons of recipes online), and roll them up. After they’re all wrapped up, place them back into the hot water and let them cook for 10-15 minutes.
If you’re looking for a way to spice things up (literally), you can add some spice to your cabbage rolls by adding cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes!
Whether you’re trying to cut down on your rice consumption or just want to try a new side dish, sweet potato chips can be a great alternative to serving rice with your curry.
To make this work in a meal, you’ll need the right equipment.
You’ll need the following:
- A mandolin slicer or similar cutting tool
- An air fryer.
- A bowl for mixing and another bowl for cooling.
- Your favorite spice mix.
- When you’re ready, mix your spices and cut your sweet potatoes into thin slices using the mandolin slicer or similar tool.
- Toss them in the first bowl and coat them completely with spices.
- While they’re soaking up those flavors, put your air fryer on 350 degrees so it can heat up.
- When it’s ready, transfer the sweet potatoes to the fryer basket and cook for about 20 minutes until they are crispy and golden brown.
- Let them cool for ten minutes before eating—they’re going to be hot!
Potatoes Au Gratin is a great way to enjoy curry without rice.
If you’re looking to reduce your starch intake but still want to enjoy a curry meal, then this is a great option.
Simply replace the rice with the potatoes and you have the perfect curry dish!
You can also add cheese or bacon bits for extra flavor if you prefer.
Tip: Use leftovers from previous meals as well! Just keep in mind that not all types of food will go well with potatoes au gratin—which means it might be best to stick with one type of potato per serving.
9. Egg noodles
Once you’ve tried serving curry over egg noodles, you’ll never go back to rice.
It’s the perfect way to add some extra protein to the meal without upping the carbs.
Plus, it makes the dish even more filling, which is great if you’re feeding a hungry family or are looking for a stick-to-your-ribs lunch option.
To make it work with your favorite curry dish:
- Cook the noodles as instructed on the package.
- Assemble your curry ingredients in a pan, following whatever recipe you like.
- Right before serving, mix in the cooked noodles and stir until they’re evenly coated with sauce.
- Serve and enjoy!
10. Naan bread
Naan bread is the perfect alternative to rice when you’re serving curry.
Because it’s a flatbread, naan can stand up to a really flavorful sauce like a curry that might get lost in plain white rice or jasmine rice.
Naan has some texture of its own with the occasional piece of cornmeal and can also hold onto sauces, so you’ll get double the flavor punch from your dish.
- To make this work in your meal, start by toasting your naan bread. This will add even more flavor and crunch to your meal!
- Then just cut into triangles and serve it off to the side of your curry dish.
- You can keep things veggie-focused by adding in some grilled vegetables like onions, green bell peppers, and mushrooms, or go big with meat by slicing up some lamb into strips.
If you’re looking for a final touch: add some cilantro to garnish this dish!
11. Rice noodles
Instead of going for the default (rice), why not try rice noodles?
They’re the same texture as rice, but they absorb flavorful sauces, much like pasta. In short, they’re the perfect partner for curry.
But how do you make it work in a meal?
It’s pretty simple:
- Just cook your curry as usual.
- While it’s simmering, boil some water and cook your rice noodles for about five minutes.
- Then, drain and toss your cooked noodles in with all of your curry ingredients.
- Stir to coat, and you’re good to go!
One tip we have is using chicken broth instead of water when cooking your rice noodles—it adds extra flavor!
12. Bulgur wheat and barley rice
If you’re looking for something different to serve with curry, consider bulgur wheat and barley rice.
This is a great option if you want a side dish that’s lower in carbs than regular rice.
Bulgur wheat and barley rice are both whole grains but they have less starch than white or brown rice.
This makes them slightly lower on the glycemic index, which means they won’t spike your blood sugar as much as white or brown rice will.
How to do this:
- To serve this with your curry dish, simply boil 1 cup of water for each cup of dry bulgur wheat or barley rice.
- When the water comes to a boil, stir in the grain and reduce the heat to low.
- Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed (a bit longer than it usually takes to cook white or brown rice).
One tip: try topping your dish with raisins before serving. The flavors go really well together!
Lentils are a great alternative to rice when it comes to curry.
They’re filling, simple to make, and are a great base for the spices and flavors in your curry dish.
In fact, they might be better than rice!
Lentils are relatively easy to cook (they don’t require soaking), they’re high in protein, and they don’t contain many calories compared to rice or other grain-based side dishes.
They have similar carbs as rice, but are gluten-free and easier to digest than rice when paired with curry.
You can use lentils as a side dish or add them into your curry for added texture and flavor.
If you’re using them as a side dish, start by sautéing onions and garlic in olive oil for about three minutes.
Add the lentils with two cups of water and salt, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender (about 20 minutes).
For extra flavor, you can add spices like cumin or turmeric at the beginning of the cooking process.
If you’re adding lentils into your curry dish, there’s really no right way to do it!
14. Chickpeas and other legumes
If you’re looking for something a little different, try using chickpeas or other legumes instead of rice.
First, I want you to picture a bowl of rice.
Now imagine that same amount of curry sauce over a bed of chickpeas or black beans.
Because curries are usually quite rich, they need something substantial to balance them out and keep you full without feeling overly heavy.
Chickpeas, black beans, or lentils are all great options that still let the flavor of the curry shine through.
Just make sure you cook the legumes well enough that they’re easy to eat, and add them to your curry at the last minute so they don’t get mushy from sitting in the sauce too long!
15. Baked pita chips or regular pita chips
When you’re looking for a crunchy, savory side to curry and your rice supply is running low, there’s no need to look any further than the aisle where they keep the pita bread.
Pita chips are a good way to make sure you don’t miss out on the texture of rice, but they also help bring out different flavor notes in the curry.
And if you like things a little spicy, pita chips are a great choice because they can stand up to stronger flavors.
If you don’t have time to bake your own pita chips, look for ones that are made with extra virgin olive oil instead of canola oil.
Or, if you’re making pita sandwiches or wraps, tear off the ends and bake those in the oven—they’ll be just as good!
What to Serve with Curry Instead of Rice (15 Options)
- Cauliflower Rice
- Roasted Vegetables
- Zucchini Noodles
- Cabbage Rolls
- Sweet Potato Chips
- Potatoes Au Gratin
- Egg noodles
- Naan bread
- Rice noodles
- Bulgur wheat and barley rice
- Chickpeas and other legumes
- Baked pita chips or regular pita chips
- Pick any of these rice alternatives to use with your curry dish.
- Prepare the rest of your meal.
- Be ready to munch in no time!