10 Indian Minority Communities & Their Food Influences
Image Credit: An Assamese platter that features fish tenga, a popular Bodo dish. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

IN INDIA, food is a medium of expression of our culture and forms a huge part of our separate identities. With such a multitude of cultures nestled in the country, we tend to overlook certain communities and their influences on food in our community. These communities, often overshadowed but brimming with culinary prowess, have honed their unique recipes and techniques, passed down through generations, resulting in a tapestry of mouth-watering dishes that reflect their rich heritage. From the subtle blend of spices in their aromatic curries to the delicate balance of sweet and savoury in their traditional sweets, each bite tells a story of tradition, resilience, and passion. 

As we unravel the culinary treasures hidden within these communities, join us on this flavoursome expedition, where every dish brings us closer to the heart and soul of these lesser-explored food cultures. So, let's savour the exquisite flavours and celebrate the unsung heroes of India's culinary landscape.


The Siddis are an Afro-Indian community that originated from East Africa and settled in India centuries ago. Their cuisine reflects a fusion of African, Indian, and Portuguese influences. They use unique ingredients like sorghum, millet, and seafood. Popular dishes include dhirde (jowar flour dosa), ambado (banana fritters), and fish curry.


The Bishnois are a community known for their strong commitment to environmental conservation and wildlife protection. Their cuisine predominantly consists of vegetarian dishes using locally available ingredients like bajra, pulses, and wild herbs. Bishnois prepare dishes such as ker sangri (a desert bean and berry dish), bajre ki roti (millet flatbread), and papad ki sabzi (papad curry).

Baghdadi Jews

The Baghdadi Jews have a long history in India and settled primarily in Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune. Their cuisine is a blend of Jewish, Middle Eastern, and Indian flavours. Popular dishes include Matzah Ball Soup, Baghdadi Chicken Pulao, and Kofta Curry. They also have unique desserts like teiglach (honey-soaked pastries) and knafeh (cheese pastry soaked in a sweet syrup).


The Parsi community, originally from Persia, migrated to India centuries ago. Parsi cuisine is a delightful fusion of Persian, Gujarati, and British influences. Iconic Parsi dishes include dhansak (a lentil and meat curry), patra ni macchi (fish steamed in banana leaf), and akuri (spicy scrambled eggs). The community is also known for their delicious bakery products like mawa cakes and nankhatai.

Bene Israelis

The Bene Israelis are one of the oldest Jewish communities in India, residing mainly in Maharashtra. Their cuisine showcases a blend of Jewish and Maharashtrian influences. Key dishes include sabudana khichdi (tapioca pearl pilaf), malida (sweetened flattened rice), and chicken in coconut gravy. The Bene Israelis also have a unique dessert called narali bhat (coconut rice).

Shekhawati Marwaris

The Shekhawati Marwaris belong to the Marwari community in Rajasthan, known for their business acumen. Their cuisine is influenced by the arid region and consists of dishes like dal bati churma (lentils, wheat balls, and sweet crushed cereal), gatte ki sabzi (gram flour dumplings in curry), and ker sangri (desert beans and berries). They also specialise in sweets like ghewar and malpua.


The Coorgis, also known as Kodavas, are an ethnic group from the Coorg region in Karnataka. Their cuisine reflects the flavours of South India with a distinct Coorgi touch. Popular dishes include pandi curry (pork curry), kadumbuttu (rice dumplings), and bamboo shoot curry. Coorgis also have a tradition of brewing and enjoying their unique coffee.


The Bohras are a Muslim community with roots in Gujarat. Their cuisine combines Gujarati flavours with Arabic and Yemeni influences. Bohra dishes are often rich in spices and aromatics. Popular Bohra delicacies include daal chawal palidu (rice with lentil curry), dhansak (a lentil and meat curry), and malida (sweetened wheat and ghee mixture).


The Irula community is primarily found in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. They are known for their expertise in snake and rat-catching, as well as agriculture. Irula cuisine incorporates local ingredients and traditional cooking methods. Their dishes often feature forest produce such as tubers, wild greens, and millets. Popular dishes include kattu saadham (mixed millet rice), keerai masiyal (mashed greens), and varagu upma (millet semolina).


The Bodos are an indigenous community residing in the northeastern state of Assam. Their cuisine reflects the flavours of Assam with a Bodo influence. Rice is a staple in their meals, and they use a variety of herbs, vegetables, and meat in their dishes. Some popular Bodo dishes include joha rice (aromatic Assamese rice), fish tenga (sour fish curry), and taro fry. They also have a traditional drink called jowai, made from rice and herbs.

From the aromatic spices of the Afro-Indian fusion to the tantalising Persian-Gujarati flavours, we have experienced a symphony of tastes that reflect the rich cultural tapestry of India. Each dish carries the legacy of generations, a testament to the passion, resilience, and creativity of these communities.

As we celebrate the unsung heroes of India's culinary landscape, we are reminded that true culinary treasures lie beyond the mainstream. The lesser-known minority communities offer a treasure trove of culinary delights, waiting to be discovered and savoured.