Friday, May 4, 2012

Didn't your mommy tell you to eat with your hands?

One of the biggest reasons I came to India was because of the food. I would have to say that Indian food is my favorite cuisine. Its so variable and very vegetarian friendly. Even before leaving for my trip I had Indian food regularly, now I have it everyday (lucky me).

With Indian food comes eating traditions. Its much different from western customs. First off, you rarely receive a fork. At best you will receive a spoon. The main utensil you use in Indian dinning is your hands and the bread (naan, roti, dosa, paratha) that you receive with your meal.

Food at a wedding
There are many reasons I have heard for the benefits of eating with your hands. Supposedly chemicals on your skin help improve the taste of the food, others say that eating with your hands helps reduce the amount of food you eat so you don't over eat. Others say that it reduces the amount of cleaning after dinner. Whatever the benefits might be, its tradition in Indian culture.

If eating with a family in India, you will notice that its all about the guest. Unlike western dinning, in which everyone eats at the same time, usually a family will eat at different times, depending on the amount of seating at the table. Usually the cook eats last. Its polite to start eating as soon as the food arrives on your plate. This is so that it does not get cold.

eating on the bed
The third difference is that the food keeps coming. As long as you are sitting at the table you will continue to receive food as its being cooked. To stop the onslaught of food you must get up from the table and wash your hands. This will open up a spot for the next person to begin dining. All food is shared so everyone gets to try all the plates that are being prepared. Its ok, as long as you are close to the family, to toss your uneaten food to someone else. Food almost never goes to waste. Everything is stored, and be sure that you will see last nights dinner dishes along side freshly cooked dishes.

Other than forks you will find many other things missing from the table. Some of these include napkins, knives and drinks. Usually, at least in my experiences, drinks are not supplied at a family meal. I have heard that drinks can take away from the flavor of the food. Its always good to carry around a bottle of water, especially if you need to cool down your mouth after a spicy meal.

Another difference is that you snack often. Usually you snack between every meal, and sometimes snacks can be just as filling. Always make sure to not overstuff during snacking, because your next meal is usually not to far away. I often confused snacks with a meal and over ate, this cause me not to be hunger for the main meal.

The last difference I will talk about is meal times. Breakfast is eaten early in the morning upon waking up. Lunch is around 1-2pm and dinner is very late sometimes as late as 10pm. Snacks fall in-between. Chai tea is served between meals and can be accompanied by biscuits (which is often not considered a snack).

Transporting your dinner
In conclusion, be ready to eat a lot, You find yourself eating 6-7 times a day. Try not to over eat and be open to different traditions. Happy eating.

1 comment:

  1. I agree,indian cuisine is very,tasty,colorful and aromatic. I love the fact that they use lots of veggies and legumes. Hot is nice as long as you can taste the food.