Just in case this unimportant idea, turns out, in some strange way, to be pertinent in some other context - I thought I’d share…
Listening recently to a recording of Ajahn @Brahmali, I found his discussion about the different ways of translating khādaniya and bhojaniya interesting, mainly from the point of view of someone who grew up eating with her fingers.
I have verified what follows with someone who lived most of her life in Sri Lanka, but this is certainly my memory of eating etiquette also.
Before a small portion of food is put into the mouth, it is already turned into a mushy mixture that has ‘come together’; that is, it is one lump without grains of rice or other bits of food flying about the place. In this condition it is easy to neatly (and politely?) deposit in one’s mouth.
In order for this to happen, there has to be at least one dish that can help turn everything else into a well combined mush. For instance, well cooked root vegetables, yoghurt, softer rices like well cooked jasmine, boiled eggs etc. And perhaps even sauces and gravies would be considered soft foods in this sense though this kind of more liquid addition would be secondary and only useful if something like a potato or a rather well cooked rice is available.
I am guessing that the eating culture of the Buddha’s time was also one where clean fingers were the main utensil.
So is it possible that bhojaniya is referring to the kind of soft food that helps with the mixing process? (My SL consultant here says that before the food goes into one’s mouth, it’s already partly ‘digested’!) Perhaps then khādaniya refers to food that is not helpful in this task - such as harder rices like basmati, meat, fish, leafy greens, nuts, mushrooms, etc.
It’s possible that some food items might fit into both catergories - depending on how they are prepared. For instance, an unripe mango can be pickled, or eaten with salt and chilli and would be a hard food - unsuitable for helping to mix other foods. An unripe mango can also be well cooked, mushy and be sitting in a shallow gravy - it might be helpful in the mixing process.
Well, that’s it. Just in case it’s vaguely helpful.
EDIT: To quote myself
… Thank you for your input everyone, it’s been fun and interesting learning from you all.
Apologies for any monumental delays or for not responding at all - this has been an enjoyable but probably rare outing!