Traditional Indian fermented foods and health benefits

indian fermented foods and health benefits

As Traditional Indian fermented foods contain probiotics, they are also called Indian probiotics foods. Indian people find these fermented foods delicious and beneficial for health. That’s why Traditional Indian fermented foods are very popular with Indians and travelers that visit India. These foods are rich in probiotics such as Lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. These are also best for their taste and health benefit.

List of Traditional Indian fermented foods:

Traditional Indian Fermented foods fall into several categories. There are 7 types of Indian fermented foods.

  • Cereal-based (with/without pulses) fermented foods,
  • Cereal/pulse and buttermilk-based fermented food,
  • Cereal-based fermented sweets and snacks,
  • Milk-based fermented foods,
  • Vegetable, bamboo shoot (BS) and unripe fruits-based fermented foods,
  • Meat-based fermented foods and
  • Pulse(legume)-based fermented foods.

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Cereal-based (with/without pulses) fermented foods:

Cereal-based fermented foods are the main food in Indian sub-continents.

Most common fermented foods includes idli, dosa, dhokla, koozhu, nan, parotta, ambali, pazhaiya soru.

These foods are made up of cereals mixed with or without a pulse (legume). The cereals include rice, ragi flour, wheat flour, barley flour.

Pulses or legumes include black gram dhal, red gram, and green gram dhals.

These legumes and cereals contain non-digestible carbohydrates that support the growth of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. These bacteria are probiotic bacteria that help in enhancing overall gut health.

These fermented foods contain several lactic acid bacteria such as Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus
aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, V. parahaemolyticus and Aeromonas hydrophila. These bacteria inhibited pathogens by producing bacteriocins.

These legumes and cereals also contain water-soluble fibers that are digested by lactobacilli.

These foods are found in Tamil Nadu, South India, India, North India, Himachal Pradesh, South India, Orissa, East India.



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Cereal/pulses and buttermilk-based fermented foods:


Buttermilk-based fermented foods include mor kuzhambhu, rabdi, kulu, kadi.

These foods are found in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh.

These foods are made from the flour of barley, pearl millet, corn or soybean, vegetables, spices, buttermilk/dahi and, gram flour.

These types of Traditional Indian fermented foods contain probiotic bacteria that prevent foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella typhi and L. monocytogenes.


Cereal-based fermented sweets and snacks:

Cereal-based fermented sweets and snacks include Jilebi , Gulgule , Seera, Chhuchipatra pitha, Podo pitha,  Bhaturu , Kulcha,  Chitou,  Selroti , Manna, Kurdi ,Thuktal, Torani , Chhangpa,  Khatta, Mangjangkori, Tchhoso roti, Tiskori .

The foods are made from wheat, sugar, curd, rice, banana, honey, ghee, and spices.

Most of these foods are found in Himachal Pradesh.

These are Indian probiotics foods that contain many Lactic acid bacteria.

These bacteria includes L. fermentum, L. buchneri, L. plantarum, L. acidophilus, L. mesenteroides, Lactococcus lactis, Streptococcus lactis and E. faecalis.


Milk-based fermented foods:

These fermented foods include Curd (dahi, thayir), Chhurpi or durkha or churapi, Chhur , chirpen, Churkham, Chhu, Philu or Philuk, Shyow, Gheu, Mohi, Somar, Maa , Jhol, Khadi.

These foods are made from cow milk or yak milk. Milk is fermented by lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria convert lactose into lactic acid. These bacteria also prevent the curdling of milk by preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria such as Enterobacter agglomerans, Enterobacter cloacae, and Klebsiella pneumonia.

Lactic acid bacteria include Streptococcus cremoris, S. lactis, S. thermophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, L. helveticus, L. cremoris, L. plantarum, L. curvatus, L. fermentum, L. paracasei subsp. pseudoplantarum, L. alimentarius, L. kefir, L. hilgardii, Enterococcus faecium, L. mesenteroides, L. farciminis, L. brevis, L. lactis subsp. cremoris, L. casei subsp. casei and L. bifermentans.

Most of these foods are founds in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat.



Vegetable, bamboo shoot (BS) and unripe fruits-based fermented foods:

Vegetable, bamboo shoot (BS) and unripe fruits-based fermented foods include Gundruk, Sinki, Sauerkraut or Sauerkohi ,Anishi, Soibum or soijim, Soidon, Kardi or handua, Bamboo, tenga, Hikhu, Hiring, Ekung, Eup, Khorisa-tenga, ushoi, amil, Iromba, Lungseij, Mesu, Khalpi, Rai, (brassica juncea) seeds, Goyang, Inziangsang, Kanji.

These foods are made from Leaves of mustard/ radish/cauliflower, radish root, cabbage, yam, BSs, Cucumber mustard seeds, mustard leaves, carrot or beetroot, rice, mustard.

These foods contain several Lactic acid bacteria such as  Lactobacillus plantarum, L. brevi, L. corniformis, L. delbrueckii, Leuconostoc fallax, L. lactis, L. mesenteroides, Enterococcus durans, S. lactis, L. casei, Tetragenococcus halophilus and L. fermentum.

In India, bamboo shoots are cultivated every year in Sikkim, Meghalaya, and Mizoram. Bamboo shoots are rich in potassium, carbohydrates, dietary fibers, vitamins, and amino acids and antioxidants (flavones, phenols, and steroids. But they contain a little amount of fat and cholesterol.

These foods are found in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Orissa, North-east India, Meghalaya, Darjeeling hills and Sikkim.


Meat-based fermented foods:

Microorganisms can easily spoil foods. To preserve meat, meat is fermented, dried and smoked.

Meat-based fermented foods include Ngari, Hentak, Tungtap. Fermented fish, Lona ilish. Crab, Utonggari, Lang kargyong, Yak kargyong, Faak kargyong, Kheuri, Lang satchu, Yak satchu, Suka Ko Masu, Chilu, Chartayshya, Geema, Arjia.


These foods are made of puntias sophore (Trash fish), Hilsa, Crabs, Local fish (named ‘phobou’), Beef, Meat of yak, Pork, Red meat of yak, Red meat of buffalo, red meat of goat.

These foods are found in, Manipur, North-eastern India, Assam, Eastern Himalayas, Western Himalayas, Darjeeling hills and Sikkim

Indian probiotics  foods of these category contain several lactic acid bacteria that prevent pathogenic bacteria. These lactic acid bacteria include L. lactis subsp. cremoris, Lactococcus plantarum, E. faecium, Lactobacillus fructosus, L. amylophilus and L. corneformis.


Pulse-based fermented foods:

Pulse-based fermented foods include Kinema, Tungrymbai, Axone, Bekang , Bari, Peruyyan , Wadi, Papad, Wari, Masyaura, Bedvin roti, Amriti, Channa dal dhokla, Khaman, Ballae, Borhe, Sepubari, Teliye mah, Aakhuni, Bekanthu, Madrah.

These foods are made from Soybeans, Black gram, Black gram, Bengal gram dhal, lentil, red gram, green gram, Black bean, Colocasia tuber, Opium seeds, Channa dal, Yoghurt, sugar.

Indian fermented foods of this category are found in Darjeeling, Sikkim, Meghalaya, North-eastern India, Mizoram, Sikkim, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, South India, North India, Manipur, Nagaland.

Pulse-based fermented foods contain several lactic acid bacteria E. faecium, L. mesenteroides, L. fermentum, L. bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, P. pentosaceous and P. acidilactici.


For more learning:



People in India consume these fermented foods not only as a diet but also as medicine.

The fermented foods improve the gut ability to absorb vital minerals and thus reduce mineral deficiencies.

Fermentation helps the foods increase thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin in its contents.

Fermented milk Dahi helps in treating intestinal infections such as diarrhea.

Breast-feeding mothers consume gundruk to improve milk production. Some old age people also use it as a tonic. It is also used to treat diarrhea and stomach pain.

Some fermented food such as gundruk, iromba, sinki and iniziangsang are used as an appetizer.

Fermented rai treat stomach pain and gas trouble. It also improves digestion.

However, most of these fermented foods help in improving digestion and overall gut health. Because these fermented foods are rich in lactic acid bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria are very helpful for gut health due to having probiotic properties.

These bacteria help in treating stomach pain, chronic diarrhea, gas trouble, constipation, and inflammation.

More read: Germ Theory of Fermentation Technology


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