Dinner hour in India is not the normal 6:00 pm that I grew up with in the US. India definitely enjoys a late dinner — something that could be found beneficial to us early eaters when it came time to finding a table at a restaurant.
The typical Indian eats dinner anywhere from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. With my church volunteer work I had the opportunity to teach youth — both American and Indian — a class two nights a week where we studied the scriptures. It would start at 6:30 and end at 8:00 pm. The American youth would arrive having had dinner before coming, the Indian students were heading home to eat their dinner afterwards. It still fascinates me today the difference in our meal times. We have asked them how they wait that late to eat dinner and their response is, “Don’t you get hungry before you go to bed if you eat that early?”
Another interesting fact for us Americans, if you are invited to dinner at someone’s home, you chat and have social time before dinner. Dinner is the last part of the invitation and once you have eaten, it’s time to end the party. We have attended some various events and parties– the Indians know and love how to throw a party — where Tyler and I were coming on midnight still wondering what time dinner was really going to be served. Not until the end of the event. There is no lingering after the meal.
A common knowledge about Indian food is that it is all about the spices and whenever we would be invited, they were often conscientious about not making it too spicy for us. When you order a Domino’s Pizza here in India, there are no packets of parmesan cheese that accompany that pizza — it’s packets of black pepper and chili flakes. Also, when sitting at a restaurant table and you observe the salt and pepper shakers, the pepper shaker will always have the larger number of holes in the top — the opposite of an American restaurant.
One of the biggest benefits for those of us that like to eat an early dinner — no wait at the restaurant if you get there by 7:00 pm. By 9:00 the restaurants are packed. Many nice restaurants do not even open until 7:00 pm and they will not take reservations past 8:00 pm as it becomes “first come first served” due to the volume they have coming after that hour. Lunch at a restaurant also gets busy around 1:30-2:00 pm which makes someone having lunch at noon the first ones in the restaurant.
We had the opportunity to dine with several different Indian families here and I LOVED their hospitality, their desire to have you in their homes and their generosity. Even if it wasn’t a meal time and you dropped by a home they were always wanting to offer food and drink regardless of their economic circumstance. I hope to carry that generosity and enthusiasm forward as I leave this beautiful country.