Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The ever useful banana leaf

After 10 days with my newborn grandson, I got a break yesterday, to go for lunch with my friend Noni. My DIL and baby have gone to her mother's house for the post-partum period until end of June when she starts work again. In the meantime, Im trying to catch up on my gardening, blogging and other activities which have been neglected since the birth of my grandson. For a long time, Noni has been pestering me to follow her to eat the Banana Leaf Rice in Bangsar and away we went yesterday!

The place was very crowded with the lunchtime crowd and had to queue up just to get a sit. There was a mix bunch of people from all walks of life and races enjoying the sumptious food there. We were sharing our table with 2 lovely young Chinese ladies.

the laying of the banana leaves on the table...

- the Banana Leaf rice originated from South India, a generous helping of rice served on a banana leaf in place of a plate with curry, veggies, meat or fish of your choice! You can ask for second helping too...more rice, more curry or more veggies!

you can choose your curries - fish, chicken or dhal...all 4 of us had all three!

the generous helping of rice with all 3 spicy curries 'flooding' my banana leaf! The smell of the curries have you salivate and anticipate what else is coming on your leaf!

Walla! Just look at my 'plate' - we have 3 types of veggies - cucumber in coconut milk (salad), gourd in tumeric and crispy deep fried bitter gourds plus a plate of chicken masala and freshly fried ikan tenggiri. A mountain of a rice to savour and enjoy! After eating this, you will definitely fall asleep!

my two banana plants - grown mainly for the useful leaves, to wrap sweet kueh (cakes) like lepat (ripe banana mixed with flour and grated young coconut as filling) or to grill fish or as a lovely background on a serving plate, as the leaf gives the food a subtle aroma and flavour to your food

In Malaysia we have many restaurants serving Banana Leaf Rice and they were favourites among all races. The banana leaf acts as a plate, so you can just throw it away after eating - no need to wash, though we presumed, they are cleaned before being served food on them. Most Malay or Indian household will have at least a banana plant grown in their compound.

the most common use of the banana leaf in Malaysia is as a wrapper for our all-time favourite food - Nasi Lemak! When you open up a wrapped nasi lemak, the aroma of the banana leaf makes the rice not only fragrance but tasteful! Emmmmm.....

photo from viets world kitchen

also widely used when grilling fish

photo from wan's kitchen
kueh kochi - glutinuos rice flour wrapped in banana leaf with sweet young grated coconut filling
in the centre

photo from wan's kitchen
pulut panggang - glutinuos rice wrapped in banana leaf with savoury filling, roasted on hot charcoal

otak-otak, - spicy fish paste wrapped in banana leaf, roasted on hot charcoal, a very famous dish from the Southern state of Johore. Those are some of the uses of the banana leaf in cooking, there are plenty more kueh wrapped in them which are are not shown here.

The banana tree is a very useful plant to grow in your backyard. You can eat the fruits, the flowers (jantung pisang), use the leaves in cooking, and make rope with the hemp from the trunk. Besides being used in cooking, the leaves are also used as a decorating element during weddings and religious ceremonies for the Hindus and Buddhists. They are nicely cut and patterned with strings attached to them, hanged on wedding tents, doors, temples or decorating the altar or on their gifts offering.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blooming Flowers

Flaunting my blooming flowers from the garden and vegetable beds.

our National flower the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Hippeastrum reticulatum sometimes called 'amaryllis' by nurseries or a variety of Dutch Hybrids

a delicate tissue-like flower of a bean plant or something else I planted which I have forgotten to note down the name!

Clerodendrum incisum (Musical Note Plant)

purple impatiens balsamina

Melastoma malabathricum (sendudok) white variety

Tibouchina urvilleana (sendudok) purple variety

Japannese honeysuckle or Lonicera japonica, the seedling was given by my friend Noni, it is a woody vine that has a sweet fragrance

Thevetia peruviana (peach)

Thevetia peruviana (yellow), this plant's white sap is poisonous or toxic, so must warn your small children when handling the flowers

Adenium obesum (desert rose), the first bloom since I cut the whole plant bald end of last year!

Texas sage or Ash plant ( Leucophyllum frutescens)

my okra having a blooming time now

This is linking to Tootsie's Fertiliser Friday/Flaunting Your Flowers

Im going to be very busy with the coming birth of a grandson probably today, going to be a first time Grandma! Yeay!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sinful Wednesday!!!

Went out for an early lunch with son and daughter-in-law after the rain. What's with rain and your tummy making extra growling sound? Anyway, DIL wanted to eat a lot of things before she gave birth because she would be missing all those yummy food during her maternity confinement!


but this very sweet sinful looking dessert is mine! hahaha..

my son's Cantonese noodles

DIL's order - green noodles with chicken?

....and some other dishes to be shared between 3 of us - fried Enokitake mushrooms

kailan with garlic oyster sauce

grilled chicken

my order - fried rice with Enokitake mushrooms

and last but not least....the banana split!

Its fine for DIL to eat all those...but Im slowly gaining whatever weight I have lost for the past one month!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Harvesting roselles and kitchen greens

The first 3 roselles (Hibiscus sabdariffa) I planted have been harvested twice for their fruits. Though still not enough to make roselle jam like Bangchik, they are a source of sweet sourish roselle juice for a hot day. To make the juice, just peel the calyx which are red in colour and boil in water, then strain to get the juice. You can either add a bit of sugar or just drink it like that. The plants are almost the same height as me and still growing. I love their lovely pink blooms with dark red centre.

today's harvest of roselle fruits and okras

roselle blooms (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

the red roselle fruits on the plants

their fruits are as big my big toe

the first 3 roselle plants bought cheap from a nursery which I nursed them to health after a bout of disease and mealy almost reaching my head!

after the first roselle fruits, I got plenty of seeds to are a few of those new seedlings

Greens harvested today

spinach and kangkung (water spinach) with okras from new plants

spinach (bayam)

new okra plants on the new vegetable beds are growing well reaching my height now but the leaves are all perforated by grasshoppers I think...on the right is a belimbing tree I bought at last MAHA 2010

I cant remember what bean I sowed but these are climbing high now competing with the pumpkins next to it

their delicate light pinkish blooms

pak choys growing again after last harvest

one of my two tumeric plants...Im using the leaves to add flavour to rendang

Chinese chives, seedlings given by my friend Noni, to add to stir-fry bean sprouts
with tofu or fried bee hoon (rice noodles)

new addition to the vegetable beds - ulam raja (Cosmos caudatus) the young shoots are eaten as salad by the Malays

very healthy and bushy Thai holes on their leaves! caterpillars and grasshoppers are really avoiding these aromatic herbs...

newly sown beans (not sure what) since the packet of seeds I bought also in MAHA didnt say what type of beans they are...

finally to quench our thirst in this really hot scorching sun.....lets sip on a very cold roselle juice! See how red the juice is from those calyx..