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Eating Etiquette In India

Discussion in 'Food & Drinks' started by amelia88, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    I know when I have travelled to other countries before, often there are certain rules about how you should be eating. One that I remember is Japan, because of the use of chopsticks there. You can't just poke your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice, for example - it's seen as rude because it's similar to a funeral ritual they have.

    What about India? I'm wondering if there are any sort of rules or etiquette when it comes to eating. I don't want to be seen as rude or anything when I visit there, so I'd love to know in advance if there is anything I should be prepared for!
  2. mikemaricich

    mikemaricich New Member

    Depends on if your dinning with Muslims or Hindus, with Hindus you can't touch someone else's food at all because it's seen as impure. These i believe is only true with Islamic culture when it comes to women. Never pour your own drink, person sitting next to you should do that. You should be aware of there drink as well as it's your job to fill there's. Also never eat left handed.
  3. Chahal

    Chahal ਜੱਟ ਕੀ ਤੇ ਘੱਟ ਕੀ Staff Member

    You could use chopsticks, spoons, forks or even a shovel to eat if you like.. Or just use your bare hands. No one really cares in India. We got all kinds of people. Lots of people do not use any cutlery atall and a lot of us don't know how to eat without the "tools" of the English men.

    It is very hard to offend Indian people.

    I have a lot of Muslim friends, both males and females but I have never come across such a thing. May be something local at some place.

    Never heard that one before, unless you mean while eating without cutlery.

    I won't care if someone by my side is dying of dehydration (pun intended). I honestly haven't heard that one before and I consider myself well traveled all across India and have friends from different parts of the country from different communities.
  4. pwarbi

    pwarbi Active Member

    I think a lot of certain customs and traditions that maybe used to be in place aren't strictly adhered to these days anyway.

    India is more and more becoming a tourist destination and with that people are more understanding of different cultures and will be more tolerant, if a person was to break a golden rule, so to speak.
  5. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    Loved your response! Thank you. It puts my mind at ease that there's no specific etiquette that I need to be worrying about. Some countries are very, very rigid with rules and regulations when it comes to eating, the implements used, how they're used -- so it's nice to hear that India is super relaxed in that regard and I won't be accidentally offending anyone! :)
  6. pwarbi

    pwarbi Active Member

    I've also fallen foul a couple of times in different countries of not being well up on the specific rules, especially when it comes to table etiquette.

    For example did you know that in some countries in eastern Europe, if a female puts her handbag or purse on the table, it means they can't afford to pay for their meal, and its seen as a lack of respect to the owner of the restaurant?

    Not sure where that comes from but I do know as the waiter came over to us and even though my girlfriend was sat there, said to me, could you please tell your wife to remove her bag from the table as the owner won't take your order and will ask you to leave.

    We stood up and left anyway as we thought it could have been done a little more tactfully.
  7. SirJoe

    SirJoe New Member

    Very well put. For a country with such a big populations and such a diversity in languages and customs you couldn't expect anything less. The most common image you have of Indian eating habits are people using their bare hands. Some of my friends told me that I should try it, as the food tastes better.
  8. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    I never knew that about Eastern Europe! I'm someone that often puts my purse on the table, just so that I can see it! I would have been embarrassed if the shopkeeper would have said that to me -- I think I would have made a beeline for the door too! Like you said, things can be said with more tact - I like being aware of a country's customs but it can be delivered in a way that doesn't make you feel uncomfortable or silly!
  9. Sandy

    Sandy Guest

    I was just about to start a thread on this topic. I'm glad I checked first. Thank you for the insightful information.

    The reason I was going to start a thread is that I was looking through an acquaintance's instagram pictures of holiday travel in Kerala. They posted a street restaurant (I think it was a booth with a canopied table set up outside). The food was served on large real banana leaves and served directly to customers, and it was ok to eat with your hands. It got me thinking, because I know in places like Italy and Provence, there are three types of meal etiquette - street food, lunch / family meals, and then formal dinners/ five course meals. Since the Kerala street food reminded me so much of Italian street food style, I was wondering if there were the same types of distinctive etiquette rules. This thread has definitely taught me a lot, I would have never thought about the important distinctions regarding religion.
  10. lstryhrn

    lstryhrn New Member

    I was always amazed how elegantly Indian diners ate with their hands at banana leaf fast food vegetarian thali restaurants in Singapore. It wasn't gross at all--no mess, no finger licking. It was an art that anybody who didn't grow up doing it would be utterly hopeless at. There were, however, sinks where you could wash your hands on the side of the dining floor.

    I miss that food!1
  11. Annette

    Annette Member

    It hadn't even occurred to me before reading this thread that eating etiquette might be significantly different in India than it is here in America. I'm glad to read that it isn't, though. That puts my mind to rest -- I was starting to panic a bit when I came across the post about pouring someone else's drinks for them and not eating with your left hand!
  12. Rye

    Rye New Member

    That's what I was thinking too Annette. It never occurred to me that you could be breaking eating etiquette by doing the wrong thing. I still have a hard time eating with my fingers, even in America. I'll eat ribs with a knife and fork while others are using their fingers. I hate having sticky stuff on my hands or fingers.
    Annette likes this.
  13. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    I feel the same when it comes to sticky stuff on my hands/fingers - it's one thing if I am at home, I guess, but if I'm out at a restaurant even if I order pizza and everyone else is eating with their hands, I'll request a plate with a knife and fork! It's just easier and less greasy!!
  14. Annette

    Annette Member

    Eating with my hands doesn't bother me, as I guess I still act like a bit of a kid in that regard! I actually love finger foods. I know nothing about formal eating etiquette, though, as we don't really have any formal rules regarding eating here.

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