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Well not for all of us the process of fermentation would probably not be a pretty sight. What makes me say so is, because to a layman the real beauty of fermentation would look like somewhat like a rotten content. But that the funny side, the real beauty of fermentation is that rotten part of it. Believe it or not but the process of fermentation actually helps to enhance flavours, textures and aromas of many Indian dishes. The simple technique of fermentation helps to create some spectacular and legendary dishes in India. Check out India’s much loved fermented dishes.

The Unique Fermented Preparations Of India

fermented photoPhoto by sk8geek

Indian cuisines have definitely made a huge mark in the world time and again. And the unique fermented preparations from different regions of India, are not only popular in the country but across the globe. I feel this particular technique is something in which the locals have actually mastered over years and years now. Today these legendary dishes have become actually become an integral part of the culinary family.

Indian Cuisines’ Much-Loved Fermented Foods

Fermented Food From East & North East India

bamboo shoots photoPhoto by Scot Nelson


1. Panta Bhaat \ Pakhala \ Poita bhaat

Panta Bhaat was my first introduction to a fermented food, this is a popular dish from Bengal. Basically it is a fermented porridge made with leftover rice which is soaked in water and left to ferment overnight, so that alcoholic flavour is develop into the rice. Before eating this fermented rice is mixed with some chopped onions, green chillies and a dash of mustard oil. For years I was under impression that the Panta Bhaat was unique to the Bengali Cusine, but later I came to know even Oriyas and Assamese prepare the same dish. The names are however different, they call it Pakhala and Poita Bhaat respectively.

2. Bamboo Shoot

Apart from rice, bamboo shoot is the another ingredient which is very commonly fermented. The tender stems of the bamboo shoots are moistened some water and then it is left to ferment for around a week. The fermentation process gives the bamboo shoots a distinctive pungent flavour. When the fermented bamboo shoots are combined with spices they taste heavenly. These fermented bamboo shoots are also used to create a pickle called khorisa.

Fermented Foods From The South

dosa photoPhoto by SanFranAnnie

My journey of exploring the south indian cuisine is still going on. And I just cannot explain how badly I am in love with the dosas, idlis, uttapams and the vadas. When I decided to try my hands on the art of fermentation, I stated out with making the idly batter.

1. Dosa & Idli

Basically the batter for the Dosa and idlis are made in the same process. Rice and Urad Daal are the prime ingredients which are soaked separately and then grinded into a smooth paste. This paste is then mixed together and then left to ferment. The only different between the two batters is the consistency.

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2. Vada

Well I always get so tempted with this one food. Fried, Golden, crisp and Hot Vadas who in the world can sat NO that this fermented food. I always thought it’s a tough thing to make, but it isn’t. All that you need is to get that batter right. The vada batter is also left to ferment overnight until its frothy. The process of fermentation plays an important part in getting those fluffy and light layers so that it just melts in the mouth.

3. Appam

One of the most unique and popular dish from the state , typically appams are served with mutton stew. The silky meaty stew will surely be ignored when you see these crispy beauties beside it.
Appams are basically circular shaped pancakes which are dense at the centre and very light and crisp on the edges. Initially I thought it’s a cousin of the dosas, but later I learnt that the appams batter includes rice, coconut milk and toddy which is fermented together.

4. Pandi Curry

I cannot miss mentioning the Pandi Curry from Coordg. This is one popular meat dish which requires fermentation. Pandi Curry is a pork dis and the devilish black colour to the pork dish and also the tang come from kachampuli. Kachampuli is essentially a vinegar which is made by fermenting the juice of the fruits from the Garcinia gummi gutta tree.

Let’s Move To The West Now

gujarat dish photoPhoto by xenocerebral

1. Dhokla

Dhokla, the first name that clicks our minds instantly when we discuss about the Gujarati cuisine.
Light and fluffy cakes made with Gram Flour are an all-time favourite snack item for most of the Indians. Again the secret beind the deliciousness of this dish too goes to the magical process of fermentation

2. Idla \ White Dhokla

Idla which is also known as the white dhokla is another very popular dish from Gujarat. It is typically made from rice and urad dal and fermented for over seven to eight hours. Post fermented this batter is steamed and tempered with a crackling tempering.

3. Doli ki Roti

The Doli ko roti is a Sindhi speciality. This is a very interesting bread which also needs fermentation. The process of fermentation in this dish is very interesting as it is carried out in small sized earthen pots, which are known as Doli.

4. Mangalore Buns

The immemsely popular Mangalore buns comes from Mangalore. These are prepared by fermenting together a mixture of wheat flour or maida, mashed bananas, buttermilk and left to ferment for eight hours. The Mangalore buns are immensely popular breakfast item typically served with a very spicy coconut chutney.

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5. Kurdai

Kurdai from Mumbai also deserves a mention, this is a very popular local item. Kurdai are noodle-like but very similar to papad. wheat is fermented in water for three long days to make that perfect batter for Kurdai. It is absolutely delicious and a must try when in Mumbai.

The North Indian Delights

jalebi photoPhoto by Soumyadeep Paul

1. Kanji

Well north Indians are just not obsessed with carrots to make their legendary Halwas but they also use carrots to prepare this delicious fermented drink. Jars filled with chopped carrots pieces mixed with water, black salt and mustard seeds are left for the fermentation process in the sun for around 2 – 3 days. Before serving the content is strained.

2. Kanji Vada

Kanji Vada is another popular fermented dish from the north and also the central India. The fermented drink which is made traditionally is added to fried vadas.

3. Siddu

Siddu is a dish from the Himachal, a typical bread with a stuffing which is made by fermenting wheat flour and yeast. This dough is steamed.

4. Jalebi and Imarti

Did you know these sweet treats are made with a fermented batter? Both these batters need to be of the right consistency so that the irresistible flavour and crisp texture can be achieved. Well that is what makes our Jalebi and Imartis so irresistible. The batter of Jalebi is made by mixing together maida, turmeric, corn flour, curd and baking soda and then the mixture is left to ferment overnight in a warm place where it rises to perfection. Once the batter is fermented these are fried until crisp and golden then dipped into the sugar syrup. The batter for imarti is prepared in the same wat but the ingredients differ as its made of rice and urad daal.

You can never imagine how healthy these fermented foods are. They are full of Probiotics which are Good Bacteria, and these good bacteria are very good for your gut. Do try these lip smacking dishes from all the states of India. Trust me they are amazing and you won’t regret. In fact, you will change your thoughts over that rotten part of fermentation and start trying it yourself.

Featured Photo by treehouse1977


Also See: Dosa: The Crispy Savoury Pancakes From South India , Varanasi, Where Food Blends With Culture & Religion, 7 Renowned Kati Chicken Roll Shops In Kolkata

Must Have Fermented Foods From India

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