In India, people eat differently than we do in the western world; In Indian restaurants you usually sit at tables and chairs and get at least a spoon. In smaller facilities, south Indian restaurants or at people’s home, it can also happen that you eat on the floor in the crossed legged seat and you eat with your hands! (Of course you can always ask for a spoon)
If you eat with your hands, please do so only with your right hand. You pick up the food with your upper fingertips and then push it into your mouth with your thumb. Admittedly: Indian food tastes better from the hand than from the cold metal spoon and practise makes the master!!
If you have not only rice on your plate, but also the thin flatbreads, so-called chapati or naan, then you pluck a little bit of the flatbread and pick up the vegetables or meat with the bread.
Here, too, people eat differently from region to region: in Rajasthan everything is nicely mashed together and often more people share one plate. In southern India, too, the entire right hand is used, whereas in northern India it is really just the fingertips and in more affluent families in the north and almost all restaurants a spoon is used. Even the Indians will look at it awkwardly, if you don’t eat the rice with a spoon in a good North Indian restaurant!
If you eat with an Indian family, you have to be careful not to be fed till death. Indian’s are one of the most hospitable people and it can happen, that you will have food non stop on your plate. If you are honestly full and can’t eat anymore, make it clear with a strong NO.
In many parts of India, the dessert is also the first dish to be eaten. According to Ayurveda that is the best order anyway. Often paan (betel nut) is eaten after the meal or so-called “mouth fresheners”, which are usually a mixture of fennel seeds, sugar and other spices.
Tea is drunk either after the meal, but definitely early in the morning and in the afternoon. Be careful with the sugar. If you don’t like it too sweet, it’s best to emphasize that.
Alcohol is generally not taken along the meeal, but before it. In many regions, only men (especially in the countryside) drink and then mostly with the aim to get drunk. In the late afternoon, drinking begins, with snacks, sliced vegetables or meat.
Only in the upper middle class people might have a beer or a glass of wine along the meal and then even women will join in. In a restaurant you can of course order your beer along the meal. Of course that depends, whether the restaurant has a license or not. If not you might get your beer served in a tea pot :).
Read more about the Theme: Food in India