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Turning Over A New Leaf – A Chennaite’s path to eco-friendly meals!

Culture Facts About Madras

Turning Over A New Leaf – A Chennaite’s path to eco-friendly meals!

Banana Leaf Meals

The people of Chennai love their distinctive culture and are very protective of it. Be it our filter coffee, Marina beach drives or Whistle Podu Army, nothing can stop us from celebrating our city. One such authentic practice has been part of our heritage for over a thousand years, luring tourists from all over the world to experience it – Banana Leaf Meals, also known as “Ilai Sapaadu”

While the world around us is making conscious efforts into adopting sustainable ways of living, we as Chennaites have easy access to a healthy, economical and environmental friendly change that you can adopt today.

Banana Leaf MealsPicture Credits: Prithi Krishnakumar

Be it paneer butter masala and hot parathas or Ambur Biriyani – why not eat your meals at home, on a banana leaf?

But why and how you ask? Here’s all that you need to know. 

You’re saving the planet.

Before metal became the mainstay for cutlery, leaves were used for various activities, including the serving of food, especially in South India. Banana leaves decompose in less than 3 days, making every meal you eat an eco-friendly one. This practice is not only beneficial to our environment but is also a more hygienic method of consumption, as there are no traces of chemicals from dishwashing liquids and soaps. This, in turn, reduces the use of water that would otherwise be used to wash soiled dishes. Every Banana leaf you use is fresh and clean, hence creating a wholesome and holistic meal experience.

Eat your greens or eat on greens? Let’s do both!

Imagine eating on nutrient thick leaves, that not only impart flavour to your food but also build your immunity. Too good to be true, right? Packed with plant-based compounds, banana leaves are rich in antioxidants called polyphenols that help with digestion issues, clear skin, diabetes, and various other diseases. The wax coating present on the surface of the leaf melts when hot rice and curries are served on it, adding a sweet earthy flavour to your food. This is as delicious as it sounds, and it only gets better.

Easy to find, Easy to buy!

While the bright morning sun is still rising, and the hustle bustle starts to begin, you will find several street vendors selling fresh banana leaves at the Koyambedu Vegetable Market, and at other prime locations such as Parry’s Corner, alongside Kapaleeshwarar temple in Mylapore, Kothawal Chavali Market, Pondy Bazaar, and more. They are available in both retail as well as wholesale prices and are cheaper if bought in bulk (less than Rs.5 per leaf). Just add ‘banana leaves’ to your grocery list and you’re set!

Now you can call yourself a TRUE Chennaite.

If you are from Chennai, you know that following tradition and participating in cultural experiences are of utmost priority to us. What better way to honour our culture than by reintroducing this age-old eco-friendly and healthy practice into our modern lifestyles and going green? (pun intended). As well informed youth of today, let’s take a step to make the earth greener (and our stomachs happier) by choosing to eat most, if not every meal on a banana leaf and casually setting another valuable trend, in Namma Chennai.

Banana Leaf MealsPicture Credits: Lohith Dhaksha

If you are someone who has never had a banana leaf meal experience before, we’ve got you covered too. Here is a list of some authentic local restaurants that are worth trying!

If this article inspired you to start eating your meals on banana leaves, then let us know by tagging @madradphotobloggers and using the hashtag #greenmealswithMPB on your posts.