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Indian EtiquetteEtiquette in Indian Restaurant

The basic etiquette for any restaurant is very similar such as leaving a nice tip for good service, and being courteous to your host. Many Indian restaurants are not very formal. Yes even those considered best (Indian restaurant are usually very similar). The etiquette for Indian (or any ethnic South Asian) restaurants might be little different from other restaurants. Below I have provided some basic rules.

Do Not Ask for Beef or Pork:
Many Indians are either Hindus or Muslims. In Hinduism, the cow is considered a sacred animal so it cannot be eaten. Similarly, Muslims consider the pig to be a very filthy animal so it cannot be eaten. Most Indian restaurants do not serve any beef or pork products. Many restaurateurs might get offended if you ask for beef or pork, when you do not see it on the menu. If you see it on the menu, it is okay to ask. However, both of those meats are not really an Indian specialty, so the safest bet for meat is chicken meat followed by lamb meat. Please also note that some Indian restaurants are purely vegetarian and do not serve any meat. Vegetarian restaurants are usually marked vegetarian from outside. Please do not offend a vegetarian owner by asking for meat.

If it is not wet or messy, it is okay to eat with hand:
Many Indian food such as naan (flat bread) can be enjoyed by eating with hand. The proper technique would be to break the bread, dip or take small piece of condiments such as chutney, or vegetable curry and eat it. So, it is perfectly fine to use your hands while eating. The basic rule of thumb is if you do not make a mess by eating something with your hands (such as liquid, grains of rice) it can be enjoyed with your hands if you wish. 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.

Concept of ‘Jutha’:
’Jutha’ means something that came in contact with your mouth, your saliva or your plate (while eating). It is basically something that directly or indirectly came in contact with your saliva. It is considered very rude and unhygienic to offer someone else your ‘Jutha’ unless you are very close family, couple or close friend. So, avoid doing this if you are not sure how your other Indian diners feel about it.

Alcoholic Drinks:
Many Indian restaurants would not serve alcoholic drink. Even they serve alcohol, few restaurants have any range to choose from. Indians do not have any wine and dine culture, so best would be to go dry and try something like mango lassi for a refreshing alternative.

Paying Bill
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”
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