By PATRICK STUART [email protected]
This week finds me back in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a city I visit regularly for business. One of the highlights of a day at the office here in KL is popping out at lunch time for some real local food, and banana leaf curry is a favourite.
Although the food is pure Indian, eating from the banana leaf is common in Malaysia where the ethnic Indian population originate mostly from southern India.
The banana leaf itself has nothing to do with the food; it is simply a cheap and environmentally friendly, throw-away substitution for a plate. When finished, you just fold up the remains (if there are any). If you enjoyed it, always fold the leaf from the top as folding from the bottom is a sign that the food was not up to scratch.
For no more than the equivalent of €2 or €3 you get a spread of rice and a few different curries and garnish. The staff will replenish your leaf as many times as you wish.
In the photo shown here is a typical spread of cucumber raita, deep-fried bitter gourd (a kind of bhaji), spiced cabbage, spinach and potato curry, curried “drumsticks” (I have no idea what these are but they are a fibrous vegetable, a bit like sugar cane but not sweet, that you suck the inside out of) and fish curry on the rice.
Other dishes on offer, included in the price, typically include mutton and chicken curries, various vegetable dishes and deep-fried spiced fish.
If any readers happen to be in KL, you will find it difficult to find curry leaf restaurants in the city centre but head out to the Bangsar district where you will find Devi’s Corner located right opposite Bangsar Village shopping centre.
Indian food does not get much better than in KL, and the authentic banana leaf experience (eaten just with the hands) takes some beating.