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.