Indian Food Service
The traditional food services commonly followed in India are ‘Thali meals’ and banana leaf service. In India meals are eaten while seated either on the floor or very low stools or mattress. Food is often eaten with the right hand rather than using a cutlery. The left hand is used to serve oneself when the courses are not served by the host. Vegetarian or non-vegetarian meals are common in Tamil Nadu and Northern parts of India.
‘Thali meal’ is an Indian style meal made up of a selection of various dishes which are served on a platter. ‘Thali’ offers six different flavours of sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on one single plate. It is commonly followed in Northern India. Dishes served in a Thali vary from region to region. Dishes are usually served in small bowls called ‘Katori’. These katories are placed at the edge of the round tray or a steel tray with multiple compartments. Typical dishes include rice, dhal, vegetables, roti, papad, dahi(yoghurt), small amounts of chutney or pickle and a sweet dish. Sometimes a round cut banana leaf is placed on the plate for serving.
b. Banana leaf service
Banana leaf service is a traditional method of serving rich dishes in south Indian cuisine. Cleaned banana leaves are used for serving food. When food is served on banana leaves, the leaves add distinctive aromas and add taste to the food. In banana leaf meals, white rice is served on a banana leaf with an assortment of vegetables, pickles, papad and other regional condiments. Traditionally there will be two servings of rice with the first being served with gravy or sambar, than pulikuzhambu, rasam and finally with the second serve of rice with curd or butter milk. In Chettinad cuisine boiled eggs, curried or fried meat or seafood are served as well. Banana leaf meals are eaten by hand. After finishing the meal the guest must always fold the banana leaf inward to show the sign of gratitude. Even this etiquette is followed in a restaurant.
Depending on the nature of establishment and the requirement of particular occasions, food may be served in many ways. It is for the catering manager to adapt the methods to progressive minds of the changing society. Success of a food service depends on customer’s changing interest and to make the meal pleasant for them.