Basic Indian Dining Etiquette
Majority of the restaurants in India are not the formal ones like in Europe or America. Though the basic etiquette for any restaurant is very similar such as leaving a tip for good service, and being courteous to your host. But there are certain things you need to keep in mind while dining out in an ordinary restaurant (not the five starer) when in India.
Do Not Ask for Beef or Pork
In India various restaurants and hotels doesn’t serve beef and port. It is because India is a highly religious nation ( Hindus and Muslims being in Majority). Beef (cow) is a holy animal for Hindus and it’s a sin to even think of eating beef. Hindus worship cow as mother and thus don’t eat beef. Similarly Muslims consider pig as a filthy animal and its a sin to eat pork. These two items are absent from most of the Indian menus, but if you see it in the menu…. it’s okay to ask for.
It is okay to eat with hand instead of fork and knife
Eating with hands in India is an age old tradition. Don’t get surprised when you see a person eating rice and curry using his fingers. If it is not wet or too messy, it is okay to eat with hand. The proper technique to eat Indian bread (naan, roti, chapati) is take a small bit of chapati / naan/ tandoori roti and then dip it in curry or gravy based item and put it in your mouth. The philosophy behind this is that eating is a very sensual thing and one should be able to enjoy eating with as many senses as possible – tasting, smelling, looking and touching.
Alcohol and Alcoholic Drinks
Various restaurants don’t offer alcohol and other alcoholic drinks. But yes, various new restaurants have come up with a separate Restaurant and bar sections so that the non-alcoholics don’t feel offended.
For many Indians, when they invite you to a restaurant, it generally means they are the host and they are going to pay the bill. It however depends on the individual and nature of the invitation. Many Indians feel awkward asking new acquaintances or friends to ask for payment if they invited them. Even if they want to pay you, when offered money, they will say no at least once. So, please be double sure if they want to share. Similarly, when you invite your Indian friend to Indian restaurant they might think you will be paying it. If you want to go dutch, rather than inviting them, just use words as “lets go Xyz” or “lets us both try Xyz”.