Customs & Cuisine of India | Asia Initiatives

Customs and Cuisine of Inida

The Siddharthnagar district of India, located in northern India bordering Nepal, celebrates festivals throughout the year, including Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, and Holi, the beautiful festival of colors held in the spring. The rich beauty of these celebrations is reflected in the region’s food as well. The cuisine is characterized by strong aromas and bold tastes, with an important focus on spices. Spices determine the flavor, appearance and taste of every meal. American diners might recognize some Siddharthnagar favorites, including Aloo Tikki (made from boiled potatoes), Korma (meat and/or vegetables cooked in yogurt), and Matar Paneer (a spiced dish with peas and cheese).

Dining Etiquette:

Dining etiquette in India is quite different than Western countries. It is considered proper Indian etiquette to eat with your hands. It is tradition and part of the Indian culture. Indian etiquette and good manners do vary from region to region, as does the type of cuisine. For instance, in North India it is impolite to dirty more than the first two segments of your fingers. In the South, where rice and wet curries are more common, it is permitted to use your whole hand. If you are not sure what to do, just observe or ask.

Part of the traditional Indian etiquette and culture is to share food, whether on long train journeys or dining in a restaurant. While sharing is an important part of Indian etiquette, it is considered impolite to share a fork or spoon or drinking glass, to bite from someone else’s food or to double dip.

The left hand is not used for eating, even if you are left-handed. To do so is considered unclean. Wait to be served before eating, since you will be eating with your right hand and would otherwise get food on the serving spoon. Never offer food from your thali, even if it has not been touched. The same basic rules of Western etiquette still apply, such as washing your hands before and after a meal.


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