Why Indians Love Eating with their Hands?
Updated: Apr 8
Every part of the world has its own unique dining traditions and customs. Americans love a loaded Thanksgiving table, the Chinese can’t do without their chopsticks, the Brits love a proper high noon tea, and the French need their wine.
From London to Dubai, Bangkok to Brunswick, you can find an Indian restaurant just about anywhere these days. Bombay Mahal in Brunswick, Maine has been serving up some of India's most delicious North Indian staples for over 30 years, having opened its doors in 1991.
With an incredibly rich heritage, the history of Indian cuisine makes it one of the oldest in the world. Early inhibiters of the Indus valley in South Asia cooked wild grains, herbs, and plants which today are a staple of a widely vegetarian India.
The Mughal Empire viewed food as an art form and act of pleasure exposing the region to new fragrances such as rose water, and the cooling principles of yogurt, both used heavily across India today.
Modern day Indian dining etiquette is built on traditional practices with religious beliefs, centuries of invasions, and political & social changes helping form how the world views its cuisine.
Eating with your hands is one of the most common practices found across the country, and a uniting factor in shaping the identity of the Indian diner. Some trace eating with your hands to having roots in ancient Ayurveda practices.
Eating is seen as a sensory experience, and when combine with your hands and fingers, it is suppose to evoke emotion and a sense of passion. Vedic wisdom and practices highlight how our hands are the most precious organ of action.
Ayurvedic texts explain how every finger is an extension of the 5 elements. From the thumb comes space, from the fore-finger comes air, the middle finger ignites fire, the ring finer is seen as water and the pinky finger represents planet earth.
Using your hands not only stimulates these 5 elements across all fingers, but also is cited to forth bring digestive juices in the stomach and nerves on the ends of our fingertips.
When you feel your food, you become more aware and conscious of the taste, texture, and aroma of what you are about to partake in, and for Indians eating with your hands is what makes its cuisine hold on to its ancient custom.
Next time you dig into a chicken tikka masala and naan, make sure you put down the fork and knife and try this ancient Indian method of enjoying your favorite curry!