1. BANANA LEAVES FOR SERVING FOOD:
The first best reason banana leaf is perfect for serving food is because of it’s size, you can serve a large variety of dishes in the leaf from sweet to savory. We serve the small leaves for breakfast & dinner and the largest leaf is reserved for lunch, as usually lunch has a huge variety of dishes. It is very very hygienic, In many hotels in India, they provide a banana leaf on top of the plate exactly cut to the plates size which I really like, because we just have to sprinkle water and wipe, and the leaves are clean in a few seconds. It is eco friendly to dispose a banana leaf, whereas plastic plates worsen the environment and in a small way, if each one of us start using biodegradable natural materials, we will have a much cleaner and safer environment. Banana leaf is full of antioxidants and eating hot, freshly cooked foods on the banana leaf is one good way to get all the antioxidants easily. Lastly, I am a strong believer that eating in banana leaf enhances the taste of the dish 🙂
2. BANANA LEAVES FOR PACKING:
Next time, you go on a trip, try packing food in banana leaf. I remember when I was younger, whenever we went out, the food (usually different varieties of rices) will be packed in a banana leaf. After a long road trip, opening up the banana leaf for eating is an amazing experience. The rice usually tamarind rice (as it stays longer with spoiling) will taste like heaven and is usually had along with pieces of fresh coconut pieces. Nowadays we have replaced banana leaf with aluminum foils and I really miss banana leaf packing. It is easy to pack with banana leaves. To use, cut the required size of the banana leaf and wash it to remove any impurities and dry it completely, else the food will spoil easily. See whether it folds, if it breaks when you fold, take the leaf with a tong and fry it in direct flame for a few minutes, now it will be flexible. Keep the food, fold it and wrap it around and tie it with a thread securely.
3. COOKING WITH BANANA LEAVES:
Banana leaves are also excellent for cooking. We use banana leaves for shaping batter before deep frying and I always prefer banana leaves over plastic sheets. We cut a small square piece of banana leaf and place it near the frying pan. We simply wipe it with water and then take a required amount of batter and place it over the leaf, make small rounds and then deep fry. This method can be used for any deep frying any batter. Banana leaves are also used all over the world for cooking various things from fish, chicken, idlies and even certain dessert use banana leaves. Try to use tender leaves, so it does not tare easily. The dishes cooked by wrapping it banana leaves have an unique flavor. If you have not tried cooking with banana leaves, I strongly suggest you try few recipes with it.
4. BANANA LEAVES FOR POOJA & DECORATION:
All our prayers and rituals require banana leaf and even a simple daily ritual of offering the food to crows is done in banana leaf. But for poojas, we make sure we only use the top end part of the leaf called thalai vazhali ilai and even if we go the markets, we will ask for the thalai vazhlai ilai. We also serve guests only with the thali vazhlai ilai, which shows the guest how much they are appreciated and welcome in the home. Beautiful decorations can be done with banana leaf, once I visited an exhibition where they had showcased the beautiful things done with banana leaf. Each and every thing was so beautiful and very artistic.
5. BANANA LEAF BODY WRAP & BURN WOUNDS:
Many natural treatments include banana leaf body wrap treatments in their program. After a body massage with warm oil and applying body packs the whole body is covered with banana leaf to keep the body warm, this is said to remove the toxins from the body and is said to be very relaxing. We apply banana leaf as a bandage for treating burns, as it helps to heal it faster. This treatment is still carried out today in many villages. Small burns that is caused due to fire, hot vapor & hot water can all be cured very fast, if we tie banana leaf around it.
6. BANANA LEAF FOR HEALTH: CURE FOR SPRAINS
This is the home remedy that my aunt uses with great success for sprains: Take the dried leaves of banana and burn it, now collect the ash and mix it with little slaked lime and palm jaggery (karupatti in Tamil). When you mix, it will form a thick paste, now apply this paste over the affected area, it immediately dries up into a thick coat. My aunt said that usually the person will feel better very soon. The slaked lime that we use is called Sunambu in Tamil, Chuna in Hindi and Pickling lime in English.