Indian table manners – one in particular

Many of us drink like this – heads up, glug down, no contact with bottle!

Don’t ever ask me to try your scoop of ice-cream after you’ve had a couple of spoons, because I will not. I will politely turn you down, not because I don’t want to try your scoop, but because of ‘engili’. A word of warning, this blog is not going to make you salivate, it’s a bit gross.

I really can’t explain engili, so will leave you to Wikipedia’s clumsy title that summarises the concept (?)(practice?) – can’t blame the author much, since I am not even attempting to explain it.

‘Contamination with saliva

The concept of ‘uchchishtam’ (in Sanskrit), ‘entho’ (in Bengal), ‘aitha’ (in Orissa), ‘jutha’ (in North India), ‘ushta’ (in Western India), ‘echal’ (in Tamil Nadu), ‘echil’ (in Kerala), ‘enjalu’ (in Karnataka), or ‘engili’ (in Andhra Pradesh) is a common belief in India. It can refer to the food item or the utensils or serving dishes, that has come in contact with someone’s mouth, or saliva or the plate while eating – something that directly or indirectly came in contact with your saliva. It can also refer to leftover food. It is considered rude and unhygienic to offer someone food contaminated with saliva. It is, however, not uncommon in India for spouses, or extremely close friends or family, to offer each other such contaminated food and is not considered disrespectful under such circumstances. In certain cases, as in the first lunch by the newly-weds, sharing food from each other’s plates may be thought of as an indication of intimacy.’

I am hoping, if there is any other vegetarian team in the cook-off, that they too don’t engili-chesify [contaminate with saliva] Aaahhh, it’s that feeling… It’s creeping up on me….. That feeling I get when I have to open self-stick envelopes, or open out exam papers whose ends have been stuck down with saliva, or a plastic bag which has been separated open using a flick of the thumb to the tongue.


So what are you thinking? Intolerant culture? Super privacy conscious? OCD? – no, none of that. Talk to us and we will tell you. Better still visit India, and observe.

Here’s another interesting website –

‘Lost in translation

A word is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy. A page filled with idioms, words, and other sayings that have no English translation of the word.’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s