Banana leaf - Plate for serving authentic south Indian meal

It is a tradition in south India, to serve authentic lunch on banana leaf. With the fancy ceramic plates, variety of dinnerware becoming popular these days, usage of banana leaf in our daily life is reduced. But even now, during weddings, auspicious days at home, in many hotels people go for luncheon on a Banana Leaf. It is considered humble and respectful to serve on banana leaf.

Actually, mostly Asians practise using banana leaf (a.k.a. plantain leaf) as a plate. It is most popularly used in Malaysia, India, Thailand, Philipines etc. The full leaves are cut, washed properly and used as a plate. It has a long rib in the middle. In many parts of India, it is very common to plant a banana tree in the backyard of the house as all its parts can be used for nutritious cooking. Its leaf, stem, flower, raw plantain, ripe bananas can all be used for cooking. Eating on a banana leaf is a hygienic practice and the meals on a banana leaf adds in a lot of medicinal value. 

It really matters, where to position the food, in the banana leaf as a part of tradition in south Indian meals. Being a South Indian vegetarian, my mom always advices me on this.  The thumb rule is that you always serve driest dish (lemon rice etc) on the left of the eater and serve the more "Liquidy" dishes (paayasam) rightwards. Salt in the left corner, followed by pickel, kosambari, appalam, sweet,  poriyal lined top left. Then comes raitha or avial on the top right. Steaming hot rice is heaped in the center, with ghee dripped in the center. Now you can enjoy the great south Indian meals.

1. Eating on banana leaf is hygenic. It is very important to wash the leaf, to remove the pesticides, dust and other germs on the leaf, before you use it. It is true that it imparts flavor, aroma and color to food.

2. It is big enough to contain variety of food. Usually, during occasions, variety of food are cooked, specially in South Inidan style we have poriyal, kootu, aviyal, rice, rasam, curd, sweet etc; there would be enough space to serve this on a big fresh green banana leaf.

3. This is more eco friendly. When you dispose this used leaf, can be used as a feed for cattle. Or even otherwise, easily degradable by nature. So totally no pollution. 

4. It easily manages heat. When hot food is served on this leaf, it emits vitamins that enriches the food you eat. 

5. Banana leaf is easily available throughout the year. Since the leaves are tender, it will be easy if you eat with your hands without using spoons or fork.

Apart from eating on a banana leaf, using it as a plate there are several other purposes of it.

* It is widely used in culinary specially by southeast Asians on stove tops, like barbecuing
* Banana leaf is used for making several handicrafts.
* Used for Wrapping food.
* When it is dryed, it is used for making umbrella.
* The leaves gives a cooling effect. So when there is severe, burns, the person is made to lay on green banana leaf as it cooks the body. Also, when a person has, chicken pox and other disease due to body heat, laying on a banana leaf gives a cool soothing effect.