By, Sangamithra GV

Probiotic rich traditional Indian foods that you should be eating to boost gut health.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are the ‘good bacteria’ among trillion other microorganisms that live in your gut. They help to promote a better digestive & immune health . Good bacteria make these benefits happen because they play a important role in balancing between the helpful & harmful bacteria present in the gut.


These traditional Indian probiotic rich foods can boost microbiome diversity & lead to better gut health outcomes.

  1. IDLI

A fermented rice & lentil steamed cake, idli is a breakfast staple in many parts of south India. A combination of rice & urad dal (lentils) are ground into a batter & left to ferment as a first step. Idli has been found to have beneficial strains of Lactic Acid Bacteria. They help in forming bacterial colonies that produce Vitamin B12, an important co-factor for many important body functions. The probiotic strains isolated from fermented idli batter have also been studied to test their resistance to low pH & acid heavy environment in the digestive system and were found to have a good viability.


A satisfying Indian meal is never complete without curd/dahi/yogurt/thayir. Being a calcium & protein rich source, it is an important part of vegetarian diets. Yogurt cultures contain lactobacillus bulgaricus & streptococcus thermophilus which are most commonly attributed to it’s benefits. Homemade yogurt or curd made at home contain live bacteria that are part of the starter culture, they help to boost digestive health functions & in replenishing good gut bacteria. A study had IBS patients regularly consume yogurt rich in bifidobacteria for six weeks and reported improvements in bloating & bowel movement frequency, two common symtms faced by IBS sufferers.


Kanji is a ready to serve fermented drink made from seasonal red carrots, popular in the northern states of India. It is a nutritionally rich beverage that relies on spontaneous fermentation methods & contain beneficial microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract that inturn boost anti-microbial activity in the gut. Beneficial strains in kanji include, lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, streptococcus & enterococcus.


A popular gujarati snack / breakfast food, dhokla is made from fermenting a mixture of chickpea flour & yogurt and steamed to spongy perfection. Lactic acid bacteria rich Fermented dhoklas have been studied for their anti-oxidant activity and were found to be helpful in reducing oxidative stresses.


Fingermillet, or ragi porridge is a summer staple in south India. The addition of ‘buttermilk’ kick starts the fermentation process and greatly enhances the bio availability of vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin & trace minerals. A calcium rich & low – resistant starch food, ragi porridge is ‘the perfect breakfast food’ for adults & children alike.The dominant microorganisms responsible for the fermentation of finger millet are Leuconostoc  mesenteroides, Lactobacillus fermentum and S. faecalis.


  1. Shreedevi

    How long can we have the fermented idli batter in the fridge and use ? Does time affect the quality of the batter?

    • Sangamithra GV

      Hello, thanks for stopping by. It is better to store un-fermented batter in the fridge and ferment it as needed in portions. Un-fermented batter stays fresh for up to 7 days in refrigeration. Time doesn’t affect quality as long as it is consumed within the maximum seven days window.

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