There’s something unique about food when its incorporated in tradition where we experience more than just a session to eat but the opportunity to talk about its history. The legend behind banana leaf rice dating us back thousands of years ago, to the time of Rama and Hanuman and while some those stories may have ben lost to us, the tradition of the meal has not.
What is banana leaf rice?
It’s a traditional method of serving rice dishes on banana leaves instead of plates that was brought over to Malaysia during the migration of South Indians. A unique dining experience, it will tickle your taste buds with all kinds of flavours, while filling your tummy with contentment.
Drop in at any number of banana leaf rice restaurants across the country and you’ll see a colourful range of Malaysians delighting in this equally colourful meal. Enjoyed amongst Indians, this traditional meal became a tradition that is shared with all Malaysians before it was turned into an economical drive.
Picking a restaurant
Of course it starts with the restaurant itself but picking a good one may be handy. For starters, give a try on “trial & error” which we highly recommend. And if you think you can’t find a decent restaurant, ask your Indian friends of the restaurants they patronise most. But here’s our picks to help you out:
Trust your senses
Let your eyes, nose and taste buds choose what to eat after picking a restaurant. Offering with a variety of food and flavours, it’s easy to get overwhelmed but with every visit take the opportunity to either get in touch with your base desires or try something new. Also, feel free to learn the different cooking styles – masala, varuval and pirattal amongst others and figure out what you like.
Etiquette is important in banana leaf rice meal. From serving the way the leaf is placed and where the food is placed on the leaf to eating with your hands – this is a must btw because its tradition and using utensils can damage or tear the banana leaf making a mess of the meal. Of course there are always reason’s not to eat with your hands but once in your life you should at least try it.
The folding aspect of the banana leaf plays a role as well. Some of you may not know but the right way to do is fold towards you if you’re satisfied and fold away if you’re not.
This topic may be the most controversial part of a banana leaf rice meal since most outlets have skyrocketed their prices in recent times. However, note that “reasonable” doesn’t mean cheap. Usually cheap will get you two veggies, some papadum and rasam while “reasonable” gets you the full on variety. The price ranges between RM10 and RM15 for an average portion including meat and a couple of veggies.
Know of any other must-try banana leaf places that is worth trying? Let us know in the comments section below.