There are several types of places to eat depending on where you are; in a village, town, or large city. Almost everywhere you go, the smells of food wafts through the air into your nostrils and causes excitement to the palate and makes your mouth water. I personally have enjoyed sampling from a variety of different ways of eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
For the morning you can choose from a couple different options. We went to a local bakery bought bread, jam and tea. This allowed us to eat leisurely in our own room and then get going for the day. The other option is to eat in your hotel. Depending on the scale of the hotel, you will either pay extra (about $4.00 Canadian for 2 people) or it will be part of the tariff (cost) of the room. Usually, there is an English breakfast (a large population of British and French travel here in the winter) or an Indian traditional meal to choose from. We decided after the first day that white bread, butter, jam, and tea was not the type of good morning my belly was aching for first thing. So we then bit the bullet and tried an Indian Breakfast. However, at first, the thought of curry first thing made me cringe a bit inside, but what did we have to lose, except a pound or two in the toilet (sorry, but that can be a fact jack). Well, let me tell you, we were over-joyed with the yumminess of all the complimentary dishes. There is a sweet small donut (like a mini donut at K-days or the Calgary Stampede, except not disgusting) called a vada, then a dosa which is cooked with rice (looks like a small fluffy pancake), a Dahl dish (soupy mixture made with lentils and mild sweet curry flavours), chai tea, veggies (steamed), and 2 types of chutneys (think sauces to dip wings into... give me a break, it's the only reference I can think of!). Mmmmmm.... those mild but bright flavours allows the mouth to sing first thing.
For dinner and lunch, there is something to consider: do you want to eat where the average blue collar worker eats? Or do you want an A/C hotel type meal in a restaurant, where a different group of Indians would frequent? We have gone to both. I would have to say that for the average person in India even $4 is expensive, because they can eat the same dishes on the street corner for less than $1. For us however, the difference is not really in price, but the experience that goes along with it. The nice restaurants we have eaten at have been superb. The total cost for the two of us to dine and be belly aching full is under $10, and you get air conditioning, which when it's 30 above, is quite nice. The street food, or local shops, are very cool however. The people are ridiculously friendly and really want for us (foreigners) to enjoy their food as much as they do.
Where ever you go, I would recommend trying the "veg. meal," which consists of eating on a banana leaf and getting a variety of small dishes (the size of a 1/4 cup that include: Dahl, chutneys', buttermilk, sweet rice soupy stuff, raita (like a cucumber yogurt dish), and basmati rice. This "meal" is prepared in large quantities and so when you order, the servers go from table to table putting what you want on your leaf (think chaotic dim sum). You can add more or less of something that you like. It is unlimited. The cost for that is under $2.00/person at a nice restaurant and under a buck at the local diner.
All in all there are some traditions that die hard in India. One is eating with your right hand. There are "hand washes" in all places (a wash basin with soap and water, or no soap depending...) that you use before and after you eat. No utensils are used unless they can see that you are struggling and then they will give you what you need (usually a spoon or fork). Because the main cuisine is vegetarian it is easy to scoop the food up with rice and a roti (flat bread) and shove it in your mouth. Eating here is not pretty. You're hands are gonna get dirty and learning to rip the stretchy bread with just one hand has been a trick that took a few meals for both of us to master. Greg seems to have been born for it, as he dove right in, and is having a lot of fun with it! Curious why all the eating is done with the right hand? Well, traditionally the left was used for other duties, of which do not need to be discussed here (think no toilet paper and wiping... enough said!)
All in all, my advice to people traveling to a foreign country, is to forget what the "guide" books tell you (they have been wrong on several accounts here) and observe. Times change very quickly in some areas of life and other things never will, so keep aware of your surroundings and just go with the flow!