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Eating an Indian chapatti is an art in itself. The round, oval and in some cases square shaped chapatti is served with majority of Indian curries and gravies. As a non-local you may be interested to learn the basic tips and tricks to eat the staple food of India which is part of an Indian lunch, dinner and breakfast.
Let us briefly review some basic eating etiquettes of a chapatti.
Eat the chapatti with your right hand by breaking it in small manageable pieces. Typically a curry, gravy or even dry meat is served with spices and sauce. The chapatti itself is soft while served hot and can be easily torn into pieces with a little practice.
Scoop the curry with the broken pieces of chapatti by using the fingertips only. It is considered bad manners to use the whole hand or dirty palms while eating roti in all parts of India. However, unlike northern parts of India the eating etiquette for chapatti is not as strict in East India. Considering your background and nationality, majority of Indians in Kolkata, Bihar and Bengal will give you space enough to learn how to break, scoop and eat a chapatti skillfully.
Keep your left hand free of stains, food and oil by refraining to tear your chapatti from it. Eating from left hand is not acceptable and considered unhygienic in all parts of India. Use left hand to drink water, hold a serving dish or use a tissue.
Anglo-Indian dinning lifestyle is getting westernised and many Indians have started using dining tables and cutlery for eating. Still there will be occasions and ceremonies where traditional Indian food is served on banana leaves and eaten while sitting cross legged on the floor. As an expatriate you will be expected to follow the serving platform, eating style and cultural norms of eating with hands and following the right hand eating rule. Also, like other parts of India, having “jutha”, “entho” or touched food from each other’s plate is unacceptable and should be avoided at all costs. Restrain sharing your chapatti with a partner, child or even an Indian friend in front of others in India as it is considered bad manners to touch each other’s food.