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Thursday
Nov042010

Banana Leaf Rice

In light (excuse the pun) of Deepavali tomorrow, and also the fact that I just had banana leaf rice this afternoon, I wish to talk about it further.

In my humble opinion, I think Sri Paandi has the best banana leaf spread in town. But then again, perhaps I have not eaten that many and therefore, am in no position to rate.

I went to a newly opened banana leaf outlet this afternoon. They reputed themselves to be 'Brickfields'Famous Banana Leaf'. If they are, then people in Brickfields must have very low expectations of their banana leaf meal. But then again, Brickfields is the central hub of Indian food and that should not be the case. In fact, I think I am going to make it my mission to canvass Brickfields to find this 'Famous Banana Leaf', test it and form my own opinion.

Ok, to be fair, it was edible. The selection of dishes was not much to shout about. I had the friend chicken, which they claimed was their signature dish and I must say, my usual nasi lemak stall makes better fried chicken.

One of my favourite condiments during a banana leaf meal is the dried chilli. They are so yummy. One crushes them into the rice and eats it with the other stuff. There's such a lot of 'kick' in them. So I asked for them, the waitress looked at me 'funny'. So I described what it was to them. She got somebody else to hear me out and that person disappeared for a bit. I thought, ok, they don't have it. Then she came back with a container, loaded with those yummy chilli. GREAT! But why stash them away??

This place is new, it's modern and they even have their supply of banana leaves, curries, pappadam and other stuff on a trolley. Quite neat, really.

But to have an actual banana leaf, one has to go to Sri Paandi. You sit down and they ATTACK you! They plonk a banana leaf in front of you, then scoop loads of rice on it. You MUST make sure you stop them or they'll continue to pile it up. Then comes the salad/vege server. He creeps up from behind and dollops at least three different salads or vegetables on the banana leaf, whether you want them or not. There's no stopping them, they move in stealth mode and attack efficiently. Then there will be the fried meat server, enticing you with a whole huge tray of fried stuff. They always look so good.

Then, there's always the a la carte stuff, like the chicken varava ( I am sure I am not spelling it right but it's my favourite and it deserves a mention) and Alison's favourite, the cauliflower.

In fact, Alison ONLY takes the cauliflower and rice with a bit of fish curry on the rice. That's it. At Sri Paandi, they pride themselves to serve you to the brim so that you go away, full and happy. Whenever Alison refuses to accept servings offered, they look miffed. In fact, on one occasion, one of the server had a look of utter disbelief and contempt. He came over to out table no less than three times, trying to force stuff on Ali. I was chortling!

I love banana leaf. I love the fact that Malaysia is so diversified and multi cultural and that it is so easy to get really good food. And when I explore further banana leaf restaurants, I may do another posting but I seriously doubt any will surpass Sri Paandi.

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