Tuesday, September 11

Banana Leaf Rice, The Malaysian Kollywood Ultimate Dish

Ever wonder what is banana leaf rice all about? Where actually does the term "banana leaf rice" came and originated from? Checked thru  and below is mentioned :

Coming to simple definition, Banana leaf  (ellai sapaade) rice is originated from South India and is often served with an assortment of vegetables, pickles, curry, meat and appalam (papadam). For dessert, rasam (Indian herbal soup), mooru (sour buttermilk) or paayasam (sweet milk pudding) is served in most restaurants.  Banana leaf rice meaning white rice serving on a banana leaf, and traditionally eaten with hands.

In Tamil Nadu, they call it “Virundhu Saappadu”. It means a feast meal. During the feast meal, the guests sits on a mat and the meal is served on a banana leaf which is spread in front of the guests. The dishes are served in a particular order, and each dish has its own specific spot on the leaf. Everyone starts together and ends the meal together. 

In another interesting term, banana leaf rice are combination of below 6 taste buds :

  • Sweet: Jangiri, payasam.
  • Salty: Salt and pickle 
  • Sour: Tamarind, nellikai [Indian gooseberry].
  • Bitter: Fenugreek, tumeric.
  • Pungent : Black pepper, Garlic, ginger, mustard.
  • Astringent: Lentils, tomato, tumeric, cabbage, coriander leaves.

The Main Course:


  • Rice is an excellent carrying agent as it blends with curries/masala or sambhar (dhal) that is added to it and makes us enjoy the taste more.
  • Ghee, urad dhal and appalam (frilly wafer) have cooling effect in our bodies and that is why it is always served in our meals.

Side Dishes:

  • Vegetables : White pumpkin [vellai poosani], beetroot, bitter gourd, long beans, lady's finger, carrots, brinjals, cucumbers have many of the nutrients that you need: vitamins, minerals, soluble as well as insoluble dietary fiber. 
  • Meat Poultry : Chicken/Fish/Mutton/Egg  either done in many ways (fried, masala, paratal) serves as a fabulous source of high quality protein and contain all the essential amino acids that the body requires.


  • Paayasam (sweet milk pudding) and mooru (sour buttermilk) served as to aid digestion.
  • Kessari (safron pudding), ponggal (sweet rice), etc served as cooling aid and sweet tooth token :)

   How Banana Leaf Rice served supposedly?

The top half of the banana leaf is reserved for accessories, the lower half for the rice. The lower right portion of the leaf may have a scoop of warm sweet milk pudding (payasam) , kesari (saffron pudding), mooru (sour buttermilk) or etc. While the top left includes a pinch of salt, a dash of pickle and a thimbleful of salad, or a smidgen of chutney. In the middle of the leaf there may be an odd number of fried items like small circles of chips either banana or  potato, thin crisp papads or frilly wafers (appalam).

The top right hand corner is reserved for spicy foods including curry, hot, sweet, or sour and the dry items. If it is a vegetarian meal, the vegetables are carefully chosen, between the country ones-gourds, drumsticks, brinjals-and the 'English' ones, which could be carrot, cabbage, and cauliflower. (If it is a non-vegetarian meal, a separate leaf is provided for the fried meats, chicken, fish, crab, and so on.) But again, the variations are presented carefully, one dry one next to a gravied one.

Traditionally, sweets are eaten first. After having worked through the preliminaries, one starts with rice. Sambar is added to rice and eaten with maybe a sprinkling of ghee. This is followed by rice with curries/masala and rice with rasam. A final round of rice with curd or buttermilk signals the end of meals. A banana may be served last.

Why Served on Banana Leaf?

It is customary to serve offerings and prasadham to god/goddess during auspicious days and festivals in Hinduism. As we all know that this has been an age old tradition, so it comes with a reason. This leaf emanates poly-phenols especially when heated through [as in wrapping and steaming food in banana leaf] or when hot food is laid on it.  These poly-phenols are very similar to the ingredients in green tea giving us the essential antioxidants for our body. They also contain Vitamin -C and L-Dopa , an ingredient very essential to fight off Parkinson's disease. So our ancestors had been gaining the benefits of this wonder leaf for ages and it is very eco friendly :)

Next time when you, family and friends planning to eat banana leaf rice, educate them what is all banana leaf rice about. Each items in this world have it is own logic and banana leaf rice has it unique story :)


Anonymous said...

A rather good write-up on BLR especially for a reader who is not from an Indian background. Thanks for the information which appeased my curiosity. Great job :)


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