Abstract : Aim: This paper aims to understand the dietary diversity in the selected tribal population, identify and document the available non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and locally available food resources (LAFRs) in the selected tribal area, review the functional and nutritional properties of the food resources, and promote them as functional foods in achieving food and nutrition security. Subjects and methods: The selected Irula tribes were located at the base of the Western Ghats region of Southern India. Background information was collected using a pre-tested questionnaire and a direct interview schedule. A dietary survey was carried out using the 24-h recall method and a food frequency questionnaire for individuals in the 18–65 year age group (n = 400) in consultation with senior women in the families. A scientific review process was adopted to identify the functional properties and nutritional values of the NTFPs and LAFRs. Results: The review process of the NTFPs and LAFRs revealed the presence of active compounds, including enzymes, pigments, and polyphenols, and anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, immune-boosting, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, gastroprotective, anti-anaemia, and anti-diarrheal functional properties. For the past few decades, a simultaneous reduction in tribal dietary diversity has been observed, with acute shortcomings in macro and micronutrients in the most vulnerable age groups. Conclusion: Efforts to document and promote the best utilization of NTFPs and LAFRs with functional food and nutritional value will help to achieve food and nutrition security in the selected population. Promotion of NTFPs and LAFRs through education and dietary interventions would be a possible solution. © 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.