A popular Malaysian experience, banana leaf is probably one of the most eco friendly cuisines on the planet.
1. No plates as all food is served on a banana leaf. Banana leafs are obviously biodegradable and abundant because they grow on the plants that produce our bananas.
2. Traditional banana leaf cuisine is vegetarian. You can top up by adding chicken or mutton or fish but no need as the original offerings are delicious and satisfying. As I always say I could totally be a vegetarian if I were Indian.
3. No utensils needed equals no washing up. Well you will need to wash your hands but spoons and forks are optional (as with most Malaysian cuisine). I generally use a spoon as I find it hard to ball up my rice with my fingers and it does appear to be a skill honed over years of experience.
Banana leaf cuisine, also known as Chettinad or Southern Indian cuisine, is a result of the Indian migration to Malaysia and Singapore. The original offering is vegetarian only and begins with a pile of rice being scooped onto your leaf. They then add some vegetables prepared in different ways. At our favorite establishment, Nirwana in Bangsar, Jalan Telawi 3 (across from Bangsar Village 2) they offer cucumber salad prepared with yogurt, curried dahl, steamed greens or steamed cabbage, fried bitter gourd (this is insanely delicious and worth the trip to Nirwana all on it’s own), and a trio of curry sauces to wet your rice. Our whole family loves it as the boys consume basket upon basket of papadam and their special fried rice (not available on weekends).