Studies of diet and disease risk in India and among other Asian-Indian populations are hindered by the need for a comprehensive dietary assessment tool to capture data on the wide variety of food and nutrient intakes across different regions and ethnic groups. The nutritional component of the India Health Study, a multicentre pilot cohort study, included 3908 men and women, aged 35–69 years, residing in three regions of India (New Delhi in the north, Mumbai in the west and Trivandrum in the south). We developed a computer-based, interviewer-administered dietary assessment software known as the ‘NINA-DISH (New Interactive Nutrition Assistant – Diet in India Study of Health)’, which consisted of four sections: (1) a diet history questionnaire with defined questions on frequency and portion size; (2) an open-ended section for each mealtime; (3) a food-preparer questionnaire; (4) a 24 h dietary recall. Using the preferred meal-based approach, frequency of intake and portion size were recorded and linked to a nutrient database that we developed and modified from a set of existing international databases containing data on Indian foods and recipes. The NINA-DISH software was designed to be easily adaptable and was well accepted by the interviewers and participants in the field. A predominant three-meal eating pattern emerged; however, patterns in the number of foods reported and the primary contributors to macro- and micronutrient intakes differed by region and demographic factors. The newly developed NINA-DISH software provides a much-needed tool for measuring diet and nutrient profiles across the diverse populations of India with the potential for application in other South Asian populations living throughout the world.