The people in Dawki belong to one of the three major ethnic groups: Khasis, Jaintia, and Gharo. The Khasis have Mon-Khmer ancestry that traces their origins from South East Asia. Many modern Khasis are Christians. The Jantias are considered a sub-tribe of the Khasis, but they have a distinct culture and traditions and follow a religion called Niamtre, believing that their faith is a direct decree from God. People from the Gharo tribe have Tibetan-Burmese roots and makeup about a third of the population in Dawki.
Khasi food, rich in meat, fish, local vegetables, fermented soybeans, spices, and red rice, is easily available. Cooking is remarkably simple, sometimes without any oil, and the food is prepared fresh. A special fermented rice beer mostly served during festivals is Kiad. It is brown and golden and flavoured with local fruits. Besides rice and pork, the people eat kwai all the time. It is a variety of betel nut, and if you are offered one, it is a gesture of friendship. On noticeably quiet days, like Sundays, vegetarian tourists may find it difficult to get non-meat-based foods. However, there are fruits available in plenty, especially the famous sweet oranges