|Paan usually accompanies post dinner|
Several customs are associated with food consumption. Traditionally, meals were eaten while seated either on the floor or on very low stools or cushions. Food is most often eaten without cutlery, using instead the fingers of the right hand. Often roti (flat bread) is used to scoop the curry without allowing it to touch the hands. Other etiquette includes eating with one hand only, preferably the right hand. Along the coast to the south, where the staple is parboiled rice, rural dwellers raise a hand full of rice to eat while urban folks tend to only use the fingers and thumb. In the wheat growing/consuming north, a piece of roti is gripped with the thumb and middle finger and ripped off while holding holding the roti down with the index finger. Traditional serving styles vary from region to region in India.
One universal aspect of presentation is the thali, a large plate with samplings of different regional dishes accompanied by raita, breads such as naan, puri, or roti, and rice. Most South Indian meals end with plain curd and rice. In South India, cleaned banana leaves, which could be disposed of after the meal, were traditionally used as an alternative to plates. When hot food is served on banana leaves, the leaves add aroma and taste to the food. Leaf plates are still utilized on auspicious and festive occasions but are much less common otherwise.
Traditional ways of dining are being influenced by eating styles from other parts of the world. Among the middle class throughout India, spoons and forks are now commonly used, although knives are not.