In the world with walls, inclines and declines the South Indian way of eating out of a banana leaf offers a degree of equanimity !

For those that aren’t in the know, traditionally food is served on banana leaves, in the South ! With ‘progressive’ generations moving on, steel, plastic and other material have come to occupy the primordial place that the banana leaf used to enjoy, when the average southerner was hungry !

In the modern times, a wedding or an ‘authentic’ restaurant tries to cater to the nostalgic South Indian mind with a leafy serving ! That said, it is easy to see that the banana leaf is perhaps the earliest version of common place ‘use & throw’ system. Natural. Bio-degradable. And green too.

A typical lunch would mean three or four vegetable curries served from a bucket straight onto the leaf. Arranged on a straight line that could resemble a battle tank formation !
The remaining place is strategically kept for loading heaps of rice, where the mainstay of the battle is. (As soon as the rice arrived, i didn’t click any more pictures. Well…). Usually filled with three categories…of well, lets call ‘toppings’ (for want of a better word) !
Some Ghee – Sambhar ‘topping’ for round one.
Some rasam ‘topping’ for round two.
Some curd / butter milk ‘topping’ for round three !
(Topping isn’t accurate at all ! They are not toppings. They are massaged with five fingers into every morsel. Right there on the banana leaf !)
Of course… all the while, accompanied with a smacking of the pappad and a touch of pickle. Finished http://healthsavy.com/product/tramadol/ with a flourish of some delicious payasam !
Bliss. Often times announced with a burp that could well set off an anti-aircraft missile in Pakistan!
If you are used to spoon, forks and plates, well, you are in for trouble. That is to put it mildly. Very mildly. For the banyan leaf has no ‘walls’ nor any ‘height variant’ ! But then a hungry southerner, who is used to having food out of a banana leaf would have let go the burp, by the time you finish reading this post !
(We eat in some hurry. As though, there is a Olympic medal that will do the country proud! That’s for another post though).
What got me started on this post was a lunch that well meaning colleagues took me out for. At a Gujarati restaurant.

This was our table, as we approached it ! The array of containers to hold the different types of accompaniments to the ghee laden stuff was simply mind blowing. Lets not talk about taste here. For whatever was served there, disappeared before the chap could count get started counting 1-2-3 !

I learnt my lessons rather well. And here it is : For a battle hardened veteran the field doesn’t matter ! Be it the plains of the green banana leaf or the shined walls of the Gujarati Thali containers !! Food is a great leveler. Leveler. ( Some word that is).

Of course. Two minutes on the lips. And a lifetime on the hips. And everywhere else too.

So ?

28 thoughts on “Leveler

  1. Insignia says:

    You are amazing in words!! Oh my God!! Attacking food as if it were on the battleground!!

    But yes, the satisfaction of using all your fingers to eat food can never be found with knives, forks and spoons..

    “Two minutes on the lips. And a lifetime on the hips”…..Hahahahahaha

    What a one-liner!!

  2. V. V. IMP as they say. I need to know where this Gujarati thali place is.

  3. Eating on banana leaves is a wonderful experience and believe me without it a South Indian food does not give u that taste…and u’ll find something missing!!

    Nice post Kavi…m hungry now!! lol

  4. Sriram says:

    I like eating from Banana leaf. But keeping the Rasam within the boundaries of the yela can be a challenge for me sometimes. When I was in Ind recently, we went to a restaurant called Rajdhani. The plate set-up was similar to the one you’ve mentioned. Awesome food!

  5. maya nambi says:

    I recently read an article on the Austrlian daily,” The age” that commented on the south indian way of eating as “unabashed gluttony”,which is quite true.I think we should take all the good aspects of our tradition and leave out the bad ways.Like we could reduce the amout of rice we eat for starters.But with the spice content of our food-i think it is extremely good and there is increasing evidence that spices such as turmeric etc are anti cancer agents.I am seeing heaps of colon cancer patients with colostomies in australia,but saw very few patients with colon cancer in india,even with so much of population.But sadly our way of eating makes us prone for diabetes.We should be proud of our tradition,but stop over eating like our ancestors,and be smart and avoid-DIABETES!

  6. Priya says:

    Too bad Kavi. People like me living faraway love this food.. Why r u making more crave for it.

    Nice post.

  7. manuscrypts says:

    ever tried eating on the paper banana leaf? yep, it exists 😀

  8. Wonderful post, Kavi! I can almost taste the food as I read!

  9. A great post to read at 1.45 pm indeed. Especially when you haven’t had lunch and know that it won’t be possible anytime before 3 pm. (Sobs)

    Btw, great post! 😉

  10. Lips to hips- that says it all. One wonderful post Kavi

  11. Lou says:

    Fascinating! I like the natural way of eating, with no dishes to wash. We recently went to a South Korean restaurant and the containers were as you pictured..and more. The table was laid end to end with little bowls!

    Ah, the culture of food;)

  12. Neha says:

    Kavi, you made me nostalgic..I remembered the Kerala trip again..though we did click the banana leaf with rice and toppings 🙂 and Gujarati thali – my mom..she makes awesome food..especially undhiyu…

    gujarati thali used to be amazingly tasty at Samrat a few years ago..but now; it has kinda lost its touch..where did you have it? just curious to know..it looks so inviting 😀

  13. Shaili says:

    there’s no love as sincere as the love for food, Kavi! i love ‘pure authentic’ south indian food… and Gujju food is my fav tooo. i had my mouth watering as i went thru ur post… yummy post! 🙂

  14. Pearl says:

    Oh, Kavi, I should’ve eaten before coming to your blog!

    Indian food is some of my favorite. We have a restaurant not far from my neighborhood called “Nalapak”. I crave it on a regular basis!


  15. radha says:

    Very true. I had a Gujarati Thali at Thackers when I was in Mumbai. And I know what you mean!!

  16. Kavitha says:

    Well, I stumbled upon your blog from the Interview @ Blog adda…!

    Nice stop, here…!

    It took some minutes for me to grasp the underlying current in these sentences….

    “Two minutes on the lips. And a lifetime on the hips. And everywhere else too.” – Quoted!

    I got carried by the photo’s, being a South Indian in most of the ways…I was just thinking about my next lunch that can happen on a Banyan Leaf…!

    As already acclaimed by many, Good Post!

  17. PNA says:

    AH! Kavi… me craving for some food on the banana leaf.. seriously south indian food without the leaf is a dampner… and balancing all those rasams and sambars and payasams on the leaf…God! It’s an art the south indians have… Where do u get such a prep in Bby… u have so made me hungry for something on the leaf Kavi!


  18. Swatantra says:

    Very Nice Post Kavi!!

    The last few lines are so true!!

  19. ♥ Braja says:

    I love banana leaves, and when we have guests I serve meals on banana leaves; they love it, I love it, everyone loves it. Did you know in Ayurveda, the most beneficial and high class things to eat from are:

    1. Banana leaf or lotus leaf
    2. Gold
    3. Silver

    There you go 🙂

  20. Kavi says:

    Insignia : Ah the fingers ! ofcourse, finger licking good ! 🙂

    ugich Konitari : Its a place called Aaraam. In Bandra East !

    NR : It is one heck of an experience ! Yes. Strangely it has a taste altering experience ! 🙂

    Sriram : Keeping that within the boundaries of the leaf is indeed an art form of sorts ! Yes, yes..the Rajdhani is here as well ! And awesome food indeed !!

    Maya Nambi : You make a brilliant point here Maya. I was quite oblivious to this. Except ofcourse, knowing fully well, that our rice attack was a rather overloaded action !

    Our anscestors ate ! but then, they also walked, ran, and did a whole lot of things. We just stop with the eating. Thats our problem !

    Priya : Perhaps this is an invitation back home !! Come home ! Come home ! Banana leaf food guaranteed !

    Manu : Oh yes. I have seen it too. the best of both worlds. banana leaf design on a paper plate. can it get any more crazy !!?! Perhaps it could !

    Manju : Thank you !!!

    Destiny’s child : Hope you had a brilliant lunch ! Even though it was delayed !

    The Holy Lama : Thank you ! 🙂

    Lou : I must investigate the Korean connection to gujarat ! :)The culture of food is indeed one heck of a culture that defines our being !

    Neha : I had this at a place called ‘Aaraam’ in Bandra East. Super duper food ! Must check out this Undhiyu !

    Shaili : ‘Pure Authentic’ !! 🙂 Oh yes ! Oh yes ! Who doesnt love that food ?

    Pearl : The fact that India has arrived on the scene is best felt through the food ! 🙂

    Radha : Oh yes ! Oh yes ! I have heard of them too ! Delicious stuff !

    Kavitha : Welcome here ! I am intrigued by ‘South Indian in most of the ways…” ! Wonder what that means !

    Thanks for your generous comment and hope to see you often !

    PNA : yes, thats a big dampner indeed ! I travel to Matunga for this food. Manis lunch home is the place !

    it is not just any art form ! It is an evolved art form !

    Swatantra ; Thank you ! 🙂

    Braja : Oh you serve on leaves ! Thats nice to read ! It is nice to see the leaf occupy prime position ! The rate at which our environment is sinking, i guess that will hold very true !

  21. I liked to eat on banana leaves with hands but ocassionally. The second pic is cute. 🙂 I enjoyed the last lines most. 😀

  22. Eureka ! To all who are seeking guidance 🙂

    Click here for directions…

  23. amreekandesi says:

    yummy! me too want a nice south indian meal…on a banana leaf, no less.

    Happy holi btw!

  24. Jeevan says:

    Lately we’re using the banana leaves for lunch often and having anything on it feels like back to tradition and nature. The modern buffet system at many events and marriage receptions are set back to this traditional having.

    In childhood days whenever we go to the temple, I used to pick the badam leaves dropped at the complex and have that’s day breakfast on it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Delightful blog that I stumbled onto from blog adda..
    These are just the kind of blogs I love…simple,unpretentious,nostalgic and random..

    As for this post,though I have very rarely eaten on banana leaves..It does bring back memories of the last banana leaf meal I had.

    The place? Rama Nayak’s udipi joint opp. Matunga stn.

    Thanks for making my day,Kavi !

  26. Aleta says:

    A long time ago, I had a penpal from India. He wrote to me about the leaf and no utensils. I couldn’t visualize it. Thank you for the pictures! I like it, though, I think I’d be at a loss without the fork or spoon 🙂

  27. Suma says:

    my 7 yrold loves eating on the banana leaf, using his fingers!

    the last 2 paras made me smile 🙂

  28. this banana leaf is something of a rarity where we live..

    that photo made my mouth start watering!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.