Top 6 Unique Fermented Indian Superfoods

Alpa Momaya

June 1, 2023

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of gut health and its impact on overall well-being. One fascinating aspect of gut health lies in the world of fermented foods, which have been consumed for centuries in various cultures. Among the diverse array of fermented foods, Indian cuisine boasts a treasure trove of superfoods that are not only delicious but also offer exceptional health benefits.

Fermentation is a traditional preservation method that involves the breakdown of carbohydrates and other nutrients by beneficial bacteria or yeast. This transformative process not only enhances the flavour and texture of foods but also unlocks a myriad of nutritional advantages. Fermented Indian superfoods are known for their rich probiotic content, essential vitamins and minerals, increased digestibility, and unique flavours.

Fermented Indian superfoods offer a range of options to tantalize your taste buds while nourishing your gut. These foods not only provide essential nutrients but also promote a healthy gut microbiome, support digestion, boost immunity, and may even aid in weight management.

Fermented Foods and Their Types

Largely there are 7 types of fermented foods:

  1. Made from cereals and/or pulses – Idli, dosa, Ambala, nan, pazhaya, etc. 
  2. Buttermilk based including cereal/pulses – Kadi, Kulu, Mor Kuzhambu, etc. 
  3. Fermented sweets and snacks – Tiskari, jalebi, Bhatura, Torani, Changpa, Thuktal, etc. 
  4. Made from milk – Curd, Philuk, Somar, Chhu, Chirpin, etc. 
  5. Made from unripe fruits, bamboo shoots, vegetables – sauerkraut, Iromba, Meshu, Goyang, Gundruk, Sinki, Khorisa-Tenga, etc. 
  6. Made from meat products – Yak Satchu, Hentak, Lona Ilish, Uttonggari, etc. 
  7. Made from pulses – Bedwin roti, dhokla, khaman, Madrah, wadi, Bekanthu, Hawaijar, etc. 

6 Indian Fermented Superfoods

 1. Enduri Pitha

This is a food item native to the state of Odisha. It is prepared at the time of the prathamastami festival from black gram and parboiled rice. The two ingredients are ground together to make a batter which is then fermented. The batter is then spread over a turmeric leaf and steamed. The food is easy to digest and can be eaten by people of any age group. 

Nutritional Quotient

100 grams of Enduri Pitha contains:

  • Carbs – 47.35 gms
  • Proteins – 7.13 gms
  • Fat – 4.04 gms 
  • Fibre – 2.95 gms 

Consumed during the winter season it is protein-rich, gives energy and strengthens the body’s immune system. 

 2. Hawaijar

Made from soybean, Hawaijar is a rich source of protein. This food item is typically consumed in the state of Manipur. It has a peculiar flavour and is quite sticky. One of the microorganisms responsible for the fermentation is Bacillus spp, which helps in regulating inflammation in the body. The dish is prepared by fermenting cooked soya beans in banana or fig leaves which are kept in a closed bamboo basket for 3-5 days. Due to its high protein content, the food is recommended for adults and children over the age of 10. 

Nutritional Quotient

100 grams of Hawaijar contains:

  • Carbs – 9.4 gms
  • Proteins – 43.8 gms
  • Fat – 1.75 gms 
  • Fiber – 5.56 gms

 3. Gundruk

Though traditionally from Nepal, this dish is very commonly consumed in the North-Eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and Meghalaya. Gundruk is made from fermenting leafy veggies such as mustard leaves, cauliflower, greens, and radish leaves and is used as a side dish. Farmers allow the green leaves to wilt for a day or two and then pound them with a little water, squeeze them and finally pack them away in tight-lidded jars for a few days to ferment. When it is suitably fermented the leaves are taken out and dried in the sun and used. This process makes the leaves rich in microorganisms as well as potassium, calcium, and sodium.

Nutritional Quotient:

1 gram of Gundruk contains:

  • Carbs – 48%
  • Proteins – 49% 
  • Fat – 3%

 4. Dahi (Indian Yoghurt)

Common to almost all Indian households, Dahi is prepared by naturally fermenting cow or buffalo’s milk. It is a rich source of folic acid, riboflavin, vitamin B-complex, and lactic acid bacteria. Used in the daily diet, it is rich in probiotics or good bacteria thereby improving gut health. It further impedes the growth of E. coli and other bad bacteria in the gut.

Nutritional Quotient

100 grams of curd contains:

  • Carbs – 4.7 gms
  • Proteins – 3.5 gms  
  • Fat – 3.3 gms 
  • Water – 88% 

Several studies have indicated that probiotic bacteria help in improving the immune system and lower cholesterol levels. 

 5. Dhokla

A traditional fermented food, Dhokla is a staple food item of Gujarat. It is prepared using Bengal gram and/or rice. Rice and pulse flour is fermented with curd and then steamed to form a spongy cake-like food. The process of fermentation increases the antioxidant property of making it easily digestible and suitable for diabetics as well. It helps in combating age-related diseases and diabetes. 

Nutritional Quotient

100 grams of dhokla contains:

  • Carbs – 16 gms
  • Proteins – 6.8 gms  
  • Fat – 7 gms 
  • Fiber -2-8 gms

6. Sel roti

It is a ring-shaped fermented food eaten in Sikkim and Darjeeling prepared from locally grown rice which is soaked overnight in cold water. The soaked rice is then pounded and mixed with sugar, wheat flour, butter, and condiments such as cardamom, nutmeg, and clove. The mixture is then kneaded into a dough and left for fermentation. Sel Roti is similar in nutritional quotient to idli and is a good source of digestible proteins.

Nutritional Quotient

1 Sel Roti contains:

  • Carbs – 30.9 gms
  • Proteins – 3.2 gms  
  • Fat – 3.6 gms 
  • Fibre – 1.1 gms 

HealthifyMe Suggestion 

I love the process of fermentation quite a lot. It not only helps to improve the texture of food but also enhances the nutrient value. In India also you can find a lot of fermented food which are easy to digest too for example idli and dosa. But if you wish to explore more you should surely try some other Asian cuisines like Korean and Japanese which they have side dishes like sauerkraut and miso paste. Both of these have a very peculiar taste which you may not find in most foods but also may help you to improve your good gut bacteria count. 

So, why keep your taste palette limited? Try flavours that can help you boost your metabolism and are in general good for your health. Try fermented foods.


Traditional Indian cuisine is inundated with a variety of fermented food items made from varied raw ingredients. These food items are packed with nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals. It helps in boosting your body’s immune system and fighting common diseases such as colds, indigestion, obesity, and many other ailments. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and include these unique fermented food items in your diet and reap the many benefits. 

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information please contact our certified nutritionists Here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Does fermentation increase the nutritional quotient of the food item?

A. Yes, fermentation does increase the nutritional quotient of certain food items. It also improves the availability of vitamins and minerals for absorption in the body.

Q. Are fermented food items easy to digest?

A. Yes, as most complex carbs and sugars get broken down during the fermentation process, it makes the food easily digestible.

Q. What is the effect of fermented food items on the immune system?

A. The immune response of the body draws a lot from your gut’s health. Consuming fermented food items rich in probiotic bacteria makes your gut strong, which in turn reflects in the immune response of the body.

Q. Is there any effect of fermented food items on the mood and behaviour of a person?

A. The gut is filled with neurons that can have a direct influence on a person’s emotions and feelings. Thus, a healthy gut means a better and happier mood.

About the Author

As the holder of a Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics from the University of Mumbai, Alpa Momaya has always understood the value of good nutrition in an individual's life. She is a Registered Nutritional Practitioner (Canada) with over 15 years of experience in the field. Specializing in Clinical Nutrition, Pre & Post Natal Diets, and Weight Management, Alpa found her calling as a Sr. Nutritionist with HealthifyMe. Alpa's love for cooking and good nutrition has seen her contribute several recipes to the HealthifyMe database over the years. Additionally, she takes a keen interest in reading and painting.

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3 responses to “Top 6 Unique Fermented Indian Superfoods”

  1. Thanks, Very useful info. You may like to consider including dried Turkey berries(in Tamil it is called Sundakkai). They are soaked in buttermilk for about 3-5 days and then sun dried and stored for use as food. it is usually fried and eaten just like that with curd rice or made into a gravy(Kozhambu in Tamil). it is yummy and very high on nutrition especially iron content.

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