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Indian Eating Habits & Table Etiquette

In India, It’s rightly said that the mastery of table etiquette is supposed to reveal important parts of one’s character. Excellent table manners while having a sumptuous meal means you are thinking about the other people you’re with and respecting their presence. In this guide, learn about all the Indian also saving yourself from getting humiliated.

We’ve done the groundwork so you will feel confident when you have to dine at an Indian restaurant or with an Indian family.

Don’t say no without a plausible reason

First thing first, the natives of India firmly believe in an old-saying ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ which means ‘the guest is god’ so the visitors are treated in the most humble and pleasant manner by the hosts.

chinese tea

Therefore, if you’re invited for a meal, refrain from rejecting the invitation for frivolous reasons because it might be an offense to a respectable gesture of the host. And you’ll miss great Indian dining experience.  This may also be the case if you’re on a business trip.

The right way to eat (with bare hands)

Once the host announces that food will be served shortly, you must go wash your hand thoroughly and pat it dry because many Indians prefer to eat food with a bare hand.  It is highly recommended that you eat with your right hand and use the left hand to serve food or to pass dishes around the table.

Why Indians eat with bare hands

Also, this traditional way of eating has an Ayurvedic reference which states that the nerve endings on your fingertips stimulate digestion. Moreover eating with hands is said to evoke emotion because eating is primarily a sensory experience. You are welcome to use the cutlery if you aren’t accustomed to eating with hands.

Offering to God

In many Indian families, there is a long-surviving tradition to offer a cooked meal to the deity as a token of devotion and respect. And for this sole reason, the food is not tasted during the preparation. It is believed that food eaten in this manner is free from bad omen and has a spiritual blessing. After this, the host normally serves food to everyone or you will be instructed to help yourself.

Sharing is caring

It is a custom in India to share food with others but only from the serving dish or bowl. Under no circumstance should you offer anybody food from your plate or help yourself to some from theirs because it is considered highly unhygienic and offensive in most parts of India.

Also, if you are offered more servings by the host avoid refusing unless you’re really full. Saying ‘have one more serving’ is a traditional Indian way of showing affection. The more you eat, happier the host as quantity of the food you eat shows if you’ve enjoyed the meal or not.

Have no leftovers

In Indian households, it is not appreciated if you have leftovers on your plate. Families believe in not wasting food as there are millions of people who die of starvation. There are two ways to avoid wasting food- either you indulge in the dishes that tempt you out of all that is served or you take tiny portions of everything that is on the table. Once you’ve wolfed down the meal, stay seated until everyone is done eating or it conveys bad table etiquette.

Lastly, do not forget to pay a compliment to the host for the delicious meal.


In India, dining etiquette plays an imperative role, much like in other culinary cultures. The convention of eating in India mirrors the nation’s traditions and cultures. Although the table manners may slightly differ in certain regions of India, the basic etiquettes will help you display an immaculate table manner.

Happy eating 🙂

About Author

I'm a passionate writer with degree in Indian Literature. In the past, I've worked for multiple Indian consulates worldwide and today I'm a happy wife and mother of 2 sons.

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