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Plantain Leaves for Steam Cooking and Natural Taste

The author hails from South Indian village, situated in the South-West coastal region. He is into farm science and agriculture.

We all know that the ill-effects of the plastic vials causing health hazards. There is plenty of discussion going on everywhere regarding single-use plastics, multi-use plastics, reusable plastics, recycled plastics, plastic ban, plastic.. plastic.. everywhere. The general public is totally confused regarding the plastic use concept. In such a situation, it is wise to use natural, healthy and traditional plantain or banana plant leaves for food serving and cooking.

People are put on much apprehension because everyone is using it but do not know what is the alternative. Why using the plastic the people are feeling guilty of its use.

One thing is pretty sure that plastic is freely available in the market. If it is banned in a particular market, it gets smuggled or brought from the other market. Though more people are conscious about the four R's - reuse, reduce, recycle, restrict, practically, this is not taking place effectively.

The plastics from the deep petroleum mines are coming out and gets garbaged on the top of the earth. Pollution due to non-biodegradable waste is really a problem for mankind. We can stay away from plastics by using natural products more and more.

Plantain - Musa sp. cv Giant Governor

Plantain - Musa sp. cv Giant Governor

Plantain leaves as plates

Plantain leaves were used as a plate for eating food from time immemorial. Eating on a leaf plate is much more pleasing than eating on a plastic or paper plate. These leaves are green or yellowish-green in colour and the food served on it has an attractive appearance. Imitation leaves are now available in the market made from paper or plastic, but not accepted well as the natural plantain leaves. Artificial plates do not provide taste or satisfaction as it is obtained from the natural leaves. Freshness, natural tastes are adding up to the quality of the feast served on these leaves.

These are, especially the choice of the health-conscious and eco-friendly people.

Hundreds of varieties of banana are available for cultivation around the globe.
Musa Paradisiaca and similar species of plantains with comparatively thinner and flexible leaves are very useful. Thick leaves and highly phenolic containing leaves are not suitable for the purpose of edible food dispensing. These impart some odd taste and flavour.

Tradition and ecology

There are many people in India even now eating every day on a plantain leaf. Some of the people even today are taking every meal in plantain leaves and make use of it for composting. Most of the people will not feed the post-eating discards to the cows. Otherwise, these are eaten by the cows also.

Some traders are dependent on plantain leaves collection and sales. These traders collect leaves from the banana farms, make it in bundles of 25 numbers each and sell to the catering people in bulk. Many of the temples serve prasadam meals in plantain leaves. During the rituals also, offerings are presented in plantain leaves to the gods or deity. This it is understood that culture and tradition have recognized serving in leaf as pure and sanctified. On festivals of Hindus, Jains these are predominantly used, Christmas and New year feasts also can use of plantain leaves, which can help in lowering the non-biodegradable wastes.

Compostable material

Biodegradable materials are gaining more importance in the events taking place in these days, worldwide. These are easy on one hand and water savings is achieved on the other, due to no need of washing after service. When it is single-time use material, there is no fear of germs passing on due to contamination. If disinfecting is required, the leaves can be held over a flame or boiling water can be poured on the leaves before serving. After using these are discarded in an ecologically sustainable manner.

Baking vials and containers

Some of these plant products are wonderful to use. These can be used innovatively in the future for this purpose. That some of the methods given below will inspire the eco-friendly nature-loving people to make use of these.

Here are some traditional recipes made using plantain leaves as containers.

Steam cooking vessel by lining inner side with banana leaf

Steam cooking vessel by lining inner side with banana leaf

Rice and lentil cake for festivals (non-sweet item)

Rice and lentil cake for festivals (non-sweet item)

Banana leaf tube lentil cake

It is a breakfast recipe, its type is quite similar to the Indian idli recipe. However, due its unique method of making, it is considered as traditional, rather than a common breakfast item.

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  • 500 grams parboiled rice, soaked
  • 200 grams lentils, soaked
  • 10 grams salt
  • 4 to 5 numbers banana leaf, made into tubes

Preparation method

  • Soak rice for 6 hours,
  • Soak the lentils for four hours,
  • Wash the lentils and grind nicely by adding about 250 ml water,
  • Wash the rice and grind batter of course consistency with about 300 ml water,
  • Mix both batters by adding salt,
  • Then keep for fermentation for 8 hours,
  • Keep the banana tubes ready,
  • To make banana leaf tubes, first cut the banana leaf from the plantain,
  • Then remove the midrib, wipe clean,
  • Wilt the leaf over a flame or by dipping in boiled water,
  • Roll the leaf as shown in the video width-wise,
  • Using a midrib fibre or a thread tie one open end of the tube,
  • Fill half of the tube with the above-mentioned batter and tie the second open end,
  • Keep the steam cooker on a heater and when the steam starts coming, keep all the tubes inside and cook for one hour,
  • If you find it difficult to make that, you do not have enough time, you can follow this alternate method.
  • Spread the entire plantain leaf inside the steam cooker and pour this batter and cook for one hour. Baking is ready it will solidify and become of the consistency of a cake. Proper baking can be confirmed by piercing with a knife. Plantain leaves give very good taste and flavour for your cake.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

14 hours

1 hour

15 hours

Serves six to eight people

Go Green!

Banana leaf for eating is loved by many. It is hygienic and fresh. Freshly cut leaves are made to wilt over a flame or by pouring boiled water is used for lunch, because of which the leaves won't tear-off quickly. It is very useful when there is a large number of people are to be served and the items are many.

Economic and healthy banana leaves or plantain leaves of Musa paradisiaca are useful for steam cooked food preparation also. It gives fresh aroma and traditional feelings. This new year or Christmas or during Ugadi or Bihu (Vioshu) use plantain leaves and go green.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Halemane Muralikrishna


Halemane Muralikrishna (author) from South India on January 03, 2020:

Welcome comments and appreciations are showing your environmental consciousness Ms Suchismita, Thank you.

Suchismita Pradhan from India on January 03, 2020:

"Go green",that is slogan of new era but how many us really take steps to reach the goals.This article has the potential to encourage the readers to go green in a cheaper and healthier way.Thanks for sharing.

Halemane Muralikrishna (author) from South India on November 07, 2019:

Thanks, Ms Prantika and Mr Swapnil.

Swapnil Ghosh from Kolkata on November 07, 2019:

Your articles are like a source of awareness for me since every one of them brings out something new. Thanks a lot for sharing this information about plantain leaves and its uses.

Prantika Samanta from Kolkata, India on November 05, 2019:

I am surely going to Banana leaf tube lentil cake, the recipe is interesting. I love eating on the banana leaf. We use banana leaves in many occasions. It is an ideal alternative to plastic plates. Thank you for sharing the importance of banana leaves.

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