24 Indian fermented foods Everyone Should Try Once

Yoga Asans

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fermanted foods in india

Imagine stepping back 5,000 years in India, the birthplace of civilization. Surprise! You’re not sipping chai, but savoring tangy pickles and fluffy fermented idlis – staples that have nourished generations! Yes, India boasts a fermentation legacy older than the pyramids, where everyday ingredients transform into taste sensations with a health punch. Ready to embark on a delicious journey? Hold onto your (probiotic-rich) spoons, as we delve into the best traditional indian fermented foods that define Indian cuisine!

Best Traditional Fermented Foods in India

India, the land of vibrant spices and diverse cultures, also boasts a treasure trove of fermented delights. These culinary gems, bursting with flavour and packed with health benefits, have been a staple in Indian kitchens for centuries. So, buckle up your taste buds as we embark on a delicious journey through 24 top fermented foods that will tantalise your palate and nourish your body:

1. Enduri Pitha: Best Fermanted Food of Odisha

Enduri Pitha

Enduri Pitha is a steamed rice cake, hailing from the vibrant culinary landscape of Odisha. This delightful treat starts with a simple combination of black gram (urad dal) and rice, fermented together for a unique tangy flavor. Jaggery, a natural sweetener, is then added, transforming the batter into a sweet and earthy mixture. Finally, the batter is skillfully steamed, resulting in fluffy, spongy pitha with a slightly caramelized crust.

2. Khorisa: Delicious Assam Food

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Khorisa, a vibrant fermented bamboo shoot dish, is a cornerstone of Assamese cuisine. This fiery delight involves fermenting young bamboo shoots with chilies, spices, and herbs, resulting in a tangy, spicy, and umami-rich explosion. Packed with probiotics and vitamin C, it’s a gut-friendly and flavorful side dish.

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3. Handia: Best Fermanted Food of Madhya Pradesh

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Handia is more than just a rice beer; it’s a cultural emblem deeply woven into the state’s heritage. Traditionally brewed in earthenware pots, this fermented beverage undergoes a natural process using wild yeast and local water. The result? A potent brew with an earthy aroma and a slightly sour flavor, ranging from mild to strong depending on the fermentation duration.

4. Chak Hao Kheer: Delicious Fermanted Food of Manipur

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Chak Hao Kheer, a culinary gem from Manipur, isn’t your average rice pudding. This dish features “chak hao,” or black rice, a forbidden rice variety known for its nutty flavor and deep purple hue. Through fermentation with black lentil and jaggery, it transforms into a creamy, sweet treat with surprising depth.

5. Pitha (Odisha):

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Pitha is an umbrella term encompassing a vast and diverse family of fermented rice cakes from Odisha, each boasting unique textures, flavors, and methods of preparation. These delectable treats are deeply woven into the state’s culinary fabric, enjoyed as both sweet and savory snacks, breakfast staples, and even festive offerings.

Sweet pithas often feature fillings like coconut, jaggery, lentils, or nuts, wrapped in fermented rice dough and steamed or fried. Some popular varieties include the chhena poda, a melt-in-your-mouth cheese sweet, and the enduri pitha, a steamed rice cake infused with the earthy sweetness of black gram and jaggery.

6. Chhena Poda (Odisha):

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Chhena Poda, literally translating to “burnt cheese” in Odia, is anything but burnt. This melt-in-your-mouth cheesecake-like dessert is the pride of Odisha, boasting a unique history and captivating flavor profile. Made with fresh chhena (cottage cheese), sugar, semolina, and a sprinkle of cardamom, it undergoes a slow baking process, caramelizing the sugar and imbuing the chhena with a rich, golden hue.

Traditionally baked on earthen stoves (chulhas), Chhena Poda gets its distinct smoky aroma and uneven texture from the uneven heat distribution. Today, ovens offer a more consistent bake, but the essence remains the same – a symphony of textures from the crumbly exterior to the creamy, caramelized center.

7. Sol Kadhi (Maharashtra):

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Sol Kadhi, meaning “coconut water,” is a light and refreshing summer drink originating from Maharashtra, India. This unique beverage boasts a vibrant white color and a slightly tangy, citrusy flavor thanks to its unique fermentation process. Tender coconut milk is fermented with kokum, a small, purple fruit known for its tartness, and black peppercorns, adding a touch of spice.

This fermentation unlocks hidden nutrients in the coconut milk, making it readily digestible and rich in probiotics that benefit gut health. Sol Kadhi is traditionally enjoyed chilled, offering a welcome respite from the hot Indian summers. Its cooling properties and electrolytes aid in rehydration, making it a popular accompaniment to spicy meals.

8. Shrikhand (Maharashtra):

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Shrikhand, the creamy jewel of Maharashtrian cuisine, isn’t just a dessert; it’s a fermented symphony of taste and health. Made with strained yogurt (hung curd), sugar, and cardamom, it transforms into a thick, luscious treat.

9. Thepla (Gujarat):

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Thepla, a Gujarati flatbread, is a delicious and nutritious journey into the world of fermented foods. Made with whole wheat flour, fenugreek seeds, yogurt, and spices, its dough undergoes a slow fermentation process, enriching its flavor and nutritional profile. The result? Soft, flavorful flatbreads perfect for travel, lunchboxes, or a quick, healthy snack.

10. Pickles:

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From fiery Andhra pickles to tangy Kerala achaar, fermented pickles are a ubiquitous Indian condiment. Each region boasts unique recipes, adding zest and preserving vegetables.

11. Moru Curry (Kerala):

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Moru Curry, Kerala’s sunshine in a bowl, is a light and refreshing yogurt-based curry. This fermented wonder features creamy, tangy yogurt simmered with vegetables like cucumber, pumpkin, or drumsticks, creating a soothing counterpoint to fiery South Indian dishes. Packed with gut-friendly probiotics, Moru Curry aids digestion and cools the palate, making it perfect for hot summer days.

12. Kallappam and Appam (Kerala):

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Kallappam and Appam are iconic fermented breakfast treats from Kerala, each offering a distinct textural and flavor experience. Kallappam, traditionally made with toddy (fermented palm sap), boasts a soft, fluffy texture and slightly savory-sour flavor. Appam, often called palappam when using coconut water, features a crispier lace-like exterior and a tangy, mildly sweet taste.

13. Idli and Dosa (South India):

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South India’s breakfast champions, idli and dosa, are more than just delicious; they’re fermented wonders! Made with soaked rice and lentils, their batter undergoes a microbial dance, unlocking nutrients and creating a fluffy or crispy delight. Idli, steamed rice cakes, offer a soft, savory bite, while dosa, the thin, crispy crepe, comes in endless variations—plain, stuffed, masala-filled—a flavor fiesta for every palate.

14. Kombucha:

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While Kombucha isn’t traditionally Indian, it’s gained popularity in recent years. This bubbly, fermented tea boasts a sweet-tart flavor and is packed with probiotics, good bacteria that benefit gut health. Made by fermenting black tea with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), Kombucha comes in diverse flavors like ginger, berry, and hibiscus.

15. Kanji (North India):

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Kanji, a vibrant orange drink hailing from North India, is a delightful blend of fermentation and fiery spice. Made with carrots, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and water, it undergoes a natural fermentation process, creating a tangy and slightly bubbly beverage. Popular for its digestive benefits and ability to combat summer heat, Kanji packs a punch with its unique flavor profile.

16. Sel Roti (Himachal Pradesh):

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Nestled in the Himalayan slopes of Himachal Pradesh lies Sel Roti, a unique fermented treat. This ring-shaped doughnut packs a flavor punch thanks to its intriguing preparation. Rice is soaked and blended into a batter, then undergoes a natural fermentation process that infuses it with a subtle tang. The batter is transformed into golden brown rings by deep-frying, creating a light yet satisfying texture.

17. Dhokla (Gujarat):

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Dhokla, a light and fluffy steamed savory cake, is the pride of Gujarati cuisine. Made with a fermented batter of rice and lentils, it boasts a unique spongy texture and a mild, savory flavor. Traditionally seasoned with mustard seeds, green chilies, and curry leaves, dhokla offers a delightful interplay of textures and tastes.

18. Dahi (Pan India):

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Yogurt, a staple across India, is a versatile fermented dairy product. From savory raitas to creamy desserts, its probiotic benefits and tangy flavor add depth to countless dishes.

19. Gundruk (Nepal):

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Gundruk, a Nepali staple, isn’t your average salad. This fermented leafy green dish, primarily made with mustard greens, radish leaves, or cauliflower leaves, packs a punch of flavor and health benefits. Traditionally sun-dried and fermented for weeks, it develops a unique savory-sour taste and aroma. Beyond being delicious, gundruk is a vital source of nutrients, especially during off-seasons when fresh vegetables are scarce.

20. Hawaijar (Kashmir):

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Hawaijar, the crown jewel of Kashmiri spice blends, isn’t just a condiment; it’s an aromatic story waiting to be unfolded. This unique blend features fermented asafoetida as its heart, its pungent aroma mellowed by warming spices like ginger, cloves, and cardamom. Cardamom’s cooling citrus notes dance with the earthy depth of Kashmiri chilies, while long pepper and black cumin add layers of peppery warmth. Used sparingly, Hawaijar transforms meat dishes with its complex umami punch, elevating them from ordinary to extraordinary.

21. Khambir:

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Khambir is a traditional leavened wheat-based bread that is popular in the Ladakh region of India. It is made from a dough of whole wheat flour, water, and yeast, which is then fermented for several hours. The dough is then shaped into round loaves and baked in a tandoor, or clay oven. Khambir has a slightly sour flavor and a dense, chewy texture. It is often eaten with butter tea or other savory dishes.

22. Pakhal:

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Pakhal, a fermented lentil dish hailing from Manipur, Northeast India, is a symphony of tang, spice, and umami. Packed with black gram dal, fermented with red rice and local spices like chilies, ginger, and garlic, it unlocks hidden nutrients and boasts a potent probiotic punch.

23. Sinkiang:

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Sinkiang is a unique fermented dish hailing from Kashmir, starring bamboo shoots as the protagonist. These shoots undergo a magical transformation through meticulous pickling with chilies, mustard seeds, fenugreek, and other aromatic spices. This flavorful concoction simmers over low heat, coaxing out earthy aromas and transforming the shoots into tangy, tender morsels.

24. Toddy:

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Toddy, not to be confused with palm wine, is a vibrant, naturally fermented, low-alcohol beverage popular in parts of India, particularly Kerala. Made from the fresh sap of coconut trees, it offers a milky, effervescent texture and a mildly sweet, slightly sour taste. Traditionally, toddy tappers climb the trees to collect the sap, which naturally ferments with wild yeasts due to its high sugar content. While consumed fresh for its refreshing qualities and electrolytes, toddy can also be used in cooking, like leavening batter or adding a distinct flavor to dishes.


This whirlwind tour through 24 fermented wonders only scratches the surface of India’s rich tapestry of fermented foods. From tangy pickles to fluffy idlis, fiery pickles to creamy shrikhand, each region adds its own unique chapter to this culinary story. These treasures are not just bursts of flavor and cultural heritage; they also pack a powerful punch of health benefits.

Dive into the fiery spices of Khorisa, savor the sweet-sour symphony of Chak Hao Kheer, or indulge in the fluffy goodness of idlis. Each bite is a delicious journey through India’s vibrant culinary heritage and a step towards a healthier you. Remember, the world of fermented delights is vast and waiting to be explored. Happy fermenting!

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