Banana Leaf Rice

Banana leaf rice is a traditional method of serving rice dishes on a banana leaf in South Indian cuisine. Due to the migration of ethnic South Indian diaspora to Malaysia, banana leaf rice can also be found as Malaysia.

In banana leaf meals, white rice is served on a banana leaf with an assortment of dishes such as vegetables, pickles, ‘rasam’, curries and ‘papadam’. The banana leaf acts as a disposable plate and not to be consumed. It is not only organic and environmental friendly but it also emits a mild fragrance that makes the meal more appetizing.

Originally, banana leaf meal is meant to be a traditional vegetarian dish.However, nowadays the meal is sometimes served with various dishes cooked with meat or seafood and boiled eggs.

When eating Banana leaf meals, there are certain etiquettes that one has to follow. First the meal has to be eaten by hand. In Indian culture, eating is considered as a sensual activity. When people eat the meal, they will look of  the meal with their sense of sight, enjoying the aroma with their sense of smell, enjoying the taste with their sense of taste and feel the texture with their sense of touch. It is a completely wholesome experience.

At the end of the meal, the guest must always fold the banana leaf inwards. The way banana leaf is folded carries significant meanings. If the leaf is folded inwards, it means showing appreciation to the cook and host. If it folded outwards, it shows that the meal is not satisfactory.

Image by: Sham Hardy

Hear From Others

Banana leaf rice originally comes from South India, and now a Malaysian version sits with equal prowess beside its original counterpart. Set on fresh banana leaf you will be presented with a mix of fresh vegetables, lentils, rice, a papadum or small deep fried baji along with a hot curry.


I often find comfort in banana leaf rice – the mixture of robust curries with steamed rice, and vegetable side dishes to complement the meal.

Sue Lynn

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.

Hana Azha