Here’s another one for Things That Don’t Make Sense To Me.

In Indian restaurants, why is the quarter plate kept on the left of the plate? Think about it. We’ve been brought up eating with one hand – the right hand. Assuming the rotis go on the quarter plate shouldn’t they be on the right? Why should the table be set by Western customs?

And while we’re on the subject, should the glass be on the right or the left? My vote is it goes on the left.


  1. rustey says:

    nope, right hand is better, because the water does not drop on the plate when you pick it up.


  2. Geeta says:

    Nope, left, definitely left. You don’t want to pick up the glass with a masala/ghee soaked right hand, do you? I still haven’t come across a person who uses a knife and fork to dig into hot puris.


  3. rustey says:

    Hmmm…that’s a good point too! In this case, waaaaaay to the left of the plate would be good.


  4. Red_Baron says:

    Left for the glass – no one considers the plight of left-handers at all – having to reach across to grab a glass kept on the right side.


  5. Karthik says:

    I have always wondered that and never found a reason for it…


  6. Saumitri says:

    While I am in India, I make it a point to shift the quarter plate to the right and also explain this to all my friends (when they ask)…;-) and i also keep the glass on the left(i dislike grease on the glass).

    Adding to this, I also substitute the fork(in the left hand) with a regular spoon(in my right hand)so that i can have the curries.

    Except when i am in North India (where rice is not eaten with the hand), I do eat rice with my hand – it tastes better…;-)

    Its time we stopped blindly aping western modes of eating.


  7. Ripul Kumar says:

    1. Why should there be a quarter plate at all? I have never seen even a variation of it in any part of India.

    In parts of India where rotis are eaten, small bowls (katoris/vatkis) are used to keep lentils and curries for effective separation of the two. Do we need a quarter plater here?

    People who are rice eaters typically dont need separation of rice and curries or lentils (or variations). All is mixed together. So, a quarter plate does’t make sense.

    Now, for segregating the breads from the lentils and curries, a quarter plate can also be a good idea. But, in effect, it increases the area of eating.

    Anyway if has to be there, it must be on the right as there are few left hand eaters in India or Indians elsewhere–cultural connotations…

    2. Glass on the left: Most food is touched by right hand (we know why) and left hand is “clean” enough to pick up the glass.

    If we use silverware to eat food, the glass can be anywhere — doesn’t make a difference anyway.


  8. Serendipity says:

    The link in the post doesn’t work.

    I understand, you have deleted your typepad account.


  9. Basab says:

    Serendipity, I fixed the link. Thanks.


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