Table of Contents
- Why do Indians eat with their hands?
- But, how do you actually eat with your hands?
- Water purification in Ancient India
- Do Indians brush their teeth?
- Are there other cultures where they eat with their hands?
- Why is it common to use utensils?
- Is it customary to eat with hands? Is that hygienic?
- Approach to cleanliness
Why do Indians eat with their hands?
Eating with hands is a common practice in many cultures around the world, including India.
Indian cuisine is incredibly diverse, with a wide array of flavors, textures, and aromas and the foods of India mostly require one to use their hands with some level of dexterity.
Indian food needs it’s own techniques and it’s not even as simple as using yours hands!Some Indian dude probably 🙂
Consider, for example rice: which is a staple food – it is bland by itself. It’s always paired or served with something else to give it the flavor it needs – usually lentils, meats and vegetables (cooked with a rich mix of spices) commonly known as curries (and so many more types) and pickles.
The consistency of these different flavorings or curries require one to gently mix these intense flavors with the rice well enough to get an uniform flavor for each scoop. Forks and spoons are good too but cannot give you an authentic experience.
In some areas different types of flat breads called roti, chapati, paratha and so on and in the south some crepe like foods are part of the meals.
These breads and crepes need to be broken into pieces and used to scoop the accompanying curries or chutneys and they complement each other and complete the flavor profile – which by themselves are either too bland or too spicy.
The food demands personal attention to really get the taste the recipe & cooks intended!
The bonus of course eating with hands is a more intimate and personal experience, as it connects the individual to the food they are consuming.
But, how do you actually eat with your hands?
First, wash your hands. Then use your fingers to tear any chapati’s or Dosa etc and use that piece of (Bread or crepe) to gather a curry or chutney and then eat that whole.
It sounds complicated, but really it’s not. 😛
Here is someone who did a better job of explaining this:
Or, if you would rather watch a video with step by step instructions, check these out:
Or check out this short video:
Cleanliness is an important aspect of Indian culture, and it is customary to wash one’s hands before and after meals. In fact, the concept of hygiene and cleanliness is deeply ingrained in Indian culture and has been practiced for centuries.
The Rig Veda, one of the oldest texts in the world dating back to 1500 BCE, describes several methods of water purification.
Water purification in Ancient India
In ancient India, the knowledge of water purification was already established. The Rig Veda, one of the oldest texts in the world dating back to 1500 BCE, describes several methods of water purification. One such method involved boiling water with herbs and letting it cool to remove impurities.
The ancient Indian text Charaka Samhita, written around the 2nd century BCE, also describes several methods of water purification, including boiling, filtering, and exposing it to sunlight.
Do Indians brush their teeth?
The practice of washing up and brushing teeth is also an important part of Indian culture, with ancient texts like the Vedas (dating back to 1500 BCE) mentioning the use of neem twigs as toothbrushes and herbal pastes for oral hygiene.
Yes, Indians have been brushing their teeth for thousands of years!Indian customs
The Ayurvedic system of medicine, which originated in India thousands of years ago, also emphasizes the importance of oral hygiene and cleanliness for overall health and well-being.
Overall, the practice of eating with hands and the emphasis on cleanliness and hygiene in India are deeply rooted in the country’s culture and traditions, with a history that goes back thousands of years.
Are there other cultures where they eat with their hands?
Yes, of course. Check out this video on how to eat Ethiopian food:
People traditionally eat with their hands in Asia, the middle east, Africa and South America.
Try it, but check out the techniques above for a master level proficiency.
Why is it common to use utensils?
Let us look at how these evolved over time:
- Early humans: The earliest humans ate with their hands, as did most cultures around the world until relatively recently. This was because utensils were not necessary for eating most foods, and because they could be difficult to make and clean.
- Ancient Greece and Rome: The Greeks and Romans were the first cultures to develop a wide variety of utensils, including spoons, forks, and knives. These utensils were made of metal and were often quite ornate. They were used for both eating and for ceremonial purposes.
- Middle Ages: In the Middle Ages, the use of utensils declined in Europe. This was due in part to the fact that metal was scarce, people ate with their hands, or with pieces of bread or other food.
- Renaissance: The Renaissance saw a revival in the use of utensils in Europe. This was due in part to the rediscovery of classical Greek and Roman culture, and in part to the fact that metal became more plentiful. Utensils were now seen as a sign of wealth and status, and they became increasingly popular among the upper classes.
Is it customary to eat with hands? Is that hygienic?
The tradition of eating with hands in India is not necessarily connected to the idea of being cleaner, but rather a way of being more in touch with the food and the act of eating.
And yes, it IS hygienic.
In ancient India, the knowledge of disease transmission and the importance of cleanliness was well-documented in texts like Ayurveda. Ayurveda, a traditional system of medicine, emphasized the significance of hygiene in maintaining good health. This system recognized that disease could be caused by germs and pathogens, and it advocated for measures to prevent their spread.
One of the fundamental practices Ayurveda prescribed was the regular washing of hands and maintaining overall cleanliness. People were encouraged to wash their hands with water and, in some cases, special herbal concoctions to minimize the risk of infection. Additionally, rituals of purification before meals helped ensure that individuals were free from potential contaminants while handling food.
On the other hand, in other civilizations, the understanding of disease transmission was comparatively limited in ancient times. The concept of germs and their role in spreading illnesses was not widely known until the pioneering work of scientists like Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch in the 19th century. Before that, the prevailing theories often revolved around supernatural causes or imbalances in bodily humors.
With this limited understanding of disease transmission, the importance of hygiene, including handwashing, wasn’t as prominent in other cultures during ancient and medieval times. As a result, the practice of eating with hands, which could potentially transfer germs from hand to mouth, might have had different implications in these societies compared to the hygienic practices in ancient India.
Hygiene and cleanliness is deeply ingrained in Indian culture and has been practiced for centuries.Indian customs
Approach to cleanliness
- Brushing teeth: The earliest evidence of brushing in Western civilizations dates back to ancient Egypt, where people used twigs to clean their teeth. However, brushing teeth did not become widespread until the 18th century, when the first mass-produced toothbrushes were introduced.
- Bathing frequently: Bathing was not a common practice in Western civilizations until the 19th century. This was due in part to the fact that bathing was seen as a luxury, and in part to the fact that bathing was not considered to be essential for good hygiene. However, as people became more aware of the importance of hygiene, bathing became more common.
- Keeping houses and kitchens clean: Keeping houses and kitchens clean was not a priority in Western civilizations until the 19th century. This was due in part to the fact that people did not know as much about germs as they do today. However, as people became more aware of the importance of hygiene, keeping houses and kitchens clean became more common.
- Brushing teeth: The earliest evidence of brushing teeth in Eastern civilizations dates back to ancient India, where people used twigs to clean their teeth. Brushing was also practiced in China and Japan, and it was seen as an important part of maintaining good health.
- Bathing frequently: Bathing was a common practice in Eastern civilizations, and it was seen as an important part of maintaining good health. People bathed in rivers, lakes, and streams, and they also used baths in their homes.
- Keeping houses and kitchens clean: Keeping houses and kitchens clean was also a priority in Eastern civilizations, and it was seen as an important part of maintaining good health. People swept their houses regularly, and they also cleaned their kitchens before after cooking.
Eating with hands or utensils
The practice of eating with hands or utensils varied depending on the culture. In some cultures, eating with hands was seen as more hygienic, while in other cultures, eating with utensils was seen as more hygienic.
In Western civilizations, eating with utensils became the norm in the 19th century. This was due in part to the fact that people became more aware of the importance of hygiene, and in part to the fact that utensils were seen as a sign of wealth and status – and convenient for the cuisines.
In Eastern civilizations, eating with hands remained the norm, even though people were aware of the importance of hygiene. This was because people ensured that their hands were cleaned, and eating with hands is also more convenient, natural and intuitive.
Today, there is no one right way to eat. Some people prefer to eat with their hands, while others prefer to eat with utensils. The best way to eat is the way that you feel most comfortable and hygienic.