Banana Leaf Rice
The tradition of having Banana Leaf Rice comes from Southern India, where it is more common to have rice instead of rotis or naans. As Malaysia and Singapore have a large South Indian ethnic community, Banana Leaf Restaurants are widely available in both countries.
Published on April 13, 2018
If you are familiar with Indian Rice Thali which is served on round metal plates, Banana Leaf Rice has the same concept of having several dishes such as vegetables, pickles, rasam (sour soup), curries and papadam (crispy crackers) along with rice. However, all the dishes are served on a piece of banana leaf instead of metal plates.
Banana leaf is not only an organic choice but it also imparts a mild fragrance which makes the dish much more appetizing. Some restaurants now opt for using ceramic plates that looks like a banana leaf as they are reusable and much more cost-effective.
Eating Banana Leaf Rice with Fingers
Banana Leaf Rice is often enjoyed using your fingers instead of cutleries. This act culturally historical in Indian culture and in fact, eating is treated as a sensual activity. Using your fingers, you will be able to feel and touch your food as you eat it. This brings eating to a whole new level where you are not only enjoying the food with all your senses.
Using left hand to eat is regarded as rude but it is due to sanitary reasons. The left hand is for "unsanitary" actions like removing your shoes or washing your bottom. So, whether you are a left handed or right handed and have decided to enjoy Banana Leaf Rice with your fingers, just ensure that they are all clean. All Banana Leaf Rice Restaurants provide a wash sink with soap. But no one is going to stop you if you choose to eat Banana Leaf Rice with spoon and fork.
Folding Banana Leaf After the Meal
Once you are done with the meal, fold the banana leaf towards you to show appreciation to the cook and host. If the banana leaf is folded outwards, it shows that you are not satisfied with the meal or it also expresses condolences when you are attending a funeral.
Banana leaf rice restaurants are often Malaysians favourite food spot. Just like Mamak, the setup in this eatery is very casual and usually opens till wee hours in the morning. One will also be able to find a wide variety of curries and other dishes to be served on a piece of banana leaf.
As it is a casual eatery and often located in residential areas, feel free to simply walk in to secure a table. Usually, you will be served with a standard selection of dishes and white rice. There are also other dishes which you can choose from for an additional price. For the variety of flavourful dishes and relaxed atmosphere, Banana Leaf Rice is a fantastic place to have a filling meal!
Why Banana Leaf Rice?
Unlimited refills. Yes, you read it well. Once seated, a piece of a banana leaf will be placed in front of you. Rice will then be provided and there will be also 2 to 3 types of vegetables served. Papadam and rasam (sour soup) are the next must-have side dishes. Lastly, you will be given a choice of curry to pick between fish curry, chicken curry and dhal. If you can’t make up your choice, just have them all together! The best way to enjoy Banana Leaf Rice is to flood the rice with the curry of your choice! Pour large spoonfuls of curries directly on the rice to let it soak all the flavours.
All these dishes can be requested to be refilled until you are full. If you need more variety, there are other dishes which you can order for an additional price.
Types of dishes in Banana Leaf Rice
The dishes available in a basic "plate" of Banana Leaf Rice may differ from restaurant to restaurant. Here is an example of dishes which you will definitely get besides rice:
- Papadam - Spiced cracker which is made of either black gram bean flour, rice flour, or lentil flour.
- Cucumber raita - Chopped cucumber in yoghurt sauce
- Deep fried snake gourd/bitter gourd
- Potato curry
- Rasam - Sour soup with a selection of spices and tomatoes
For additional dishes, choose from a larger selection of dishes such as fried fish or chicken, seafood curry, tofu and more.
Did you enjoy this article?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below. If you want to receive new recipe ideas regularly in your inbox, subscribe to our free newsletter!