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.

28 comments:

~Holly~ said...

In Hawaii, we use the banana leaf a lot also. I love how versitile it is and how it adds flavor when cooked with foods wrapped inside.

One said...

I see... Now I know what you have been up to. Enjoying banana leaf meals. :)

Ali said...

Oh my comment didn't show! It's out there! I was saying how lovely the curries looked - yum!

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Dekat sini ada jual frozen banana leaves. Wah terliur semua tu lama dah tak makan...

rainfield61 said...

Welcome back.

With a serve of banana leaf rice.

p3chandan said...

Holly, they are indeed very versatile and useful in our daily lives, thats why I have them grown in my garden!

One, it has been a long long time since I have the banana leaf rice and got to eat it again 2 days ago, was heaven! Though cant have it often because of the calories I will be putting on!

Ali, the curries made the rice so delicious and finger licking good!

Diana, I used to buy the leaf just for grilling fish, which I love but now that Ive them in my garden, its grilled fish as often as I want it! Memang sedap bila dah lama tak makan, tapi tak boleh nak makan selalu, menggemok kan!

Thanks Rainfield, good to be back!

Stephanie said...

I like my char koay teow to have a piece of banana leaf - more tasty this way ;-)

p3chandan said...

Yes Steph, some shops they do serve them with banana leaf on the plate, adding some flavour to the food.

Val said...

I have never heard of this! Looks good though. Congrats on your Grand! I haven't got to visit blogs lately due to health issues but am getting better. Thanks for visiting me and leaving a comment.

perennialgardener said...

Wonderful exotic dishes, I've never heard of any of them. Thanks for sharing. :)

p3chandan said...

Racquel, yes they are kind of exotic with lots of spices and new tastes.

p3chandan said...

Sorry to hear you are not well Val, though Im glad you are getting much better now. Those South Indian dishes are very spicy indeed, if your like them, you will enjoy them!

cikmanggis said...

alamak ter mis blog ni.Selalu Cm masuk blog yg satu lagi.Tahniah dah dapat cucu..tentu seronok:)..Cm tunggu hari je ni...cucu pompuan katanya:)

Alamak tak tipu....berair mulut kita teringin nak makan nasi curry dalam daun pisang..haishh kena ajak geng ni sebab suami tak boleh makan kari camtu...sape nak temankan kita ni:)

kitchen flavours said...

Congratulations on your new grandson!
Wah, the banana leaf rice looks delicious! It has been a long while since I had banana leaf rice, now that my kids are older, I should bring them out to experience it! When I was young, my mom used to take the banana leaves from our yard to wrap the homecooked nasi lemak, mmm..really make a difference when compared serving it on a plate!
Nice post!

Alistair said...

Great looking food p3, you have made me hungry, Myra is the dinner ready? Enjoy your grandson, in moderation if you know what's good for you.

Malar said...

So many dishes using banana leaves! Look so yummy!
It's so useful to have banana tree at home but not in my garden! hahahhaa....

Lrong said...

Banana Leaf Rice in Bangsar... have to visit the place next time...

PlantPostings said...

A wonderful, versatile plant! Thanks for all the great information and suggestions about the banana leaves. Wish we had them growing here!

milka said...

Love banana leaf rice, hungry...

p3chandan said...

Tima kasih cikmanggis, memang seronok dpt cucu ni, tambah lg dah lama tak pegang baby. Teringin nak cucu pompuan, pasal anak saya semuanye lelaki, tp bersyukur jugak la dpt cucu yg alhamdulillah sehat! Sesekali mkn nasi daun pisang ni takpe, tak boleh selalu, gemok! Kalau rumah kita dekat, boleh le dating2 selalu kan...

p3chandan said...

Thank you Joyce.Yes it is indeed a lovely and delicious experience when eating Banana Leaf Rice!

I bet your Myra is a good cook! Thank you for your advice Alistair regarding grandchildren...will remember that!

Very useful indeed Malar, Im happy I have 2 in my garden!

p3chandan said...

Yes Mr Lrong, I never thought I can find Banana Leaf Rice in Bangsar, the IN place to lepak with all the modern cafes and restaurants!Its in front of the new Bangsar Village shopping complex.

You are welcome Beth, though I think maybe there you can find frozen banana leaf in some supermart.

Hi Milka, long time no see, busy too? Welcome back! Anyway since I was younger and working, once a week, went for banana leaf rice at Jalan Lebuh Ampang, our Little India in KL near my office!

carolynsshadegardens.com said...

We have a banana tree in our garden, which we take in to the garage every winter. Are there different kinds and are they all good for wrapping food to cook? I want to try grilling fish in ours--any suggested recipes? Carolyn

Autumn Belle said...

I always think that it is the banana leaf that makes the food more tasty. I like the aroma from the leaf. Anytime better than plastic.

Martin Neill said...

Oh wow that looks delicious. I have just eaten but I could make space for some of that curry! Yum!

Plant Chaser said...

You've made me hungry. I think I will order Nasi Lemak for lunch today.

p3chandan said...

Carolyn, there are so many different types of banana plants so not sure if yours is like our common ones grown here. Well you could try see if their leaf give out such lovely aroma. The most basic grilling coating is season the fish with salt, pepper and tumeric powder and grill them wrapped in the leaf.

Yes Autumn Belle, the leaf gives such lovely aroma and taste to the food wrapped in them. Its a lot safer than plastic too.

Martin, those curries certaily were yummy!

Bom, Nasi Lemak really tastes so delicious wrapped in the banana leaf!

milka said...

On holi ka? Lama tak jumpa... Hope you're doing well.