Eating on a banana leaf is so much fun and I personally have very fond memories from my childhood. After coming to the U.S., finding banana leaves was not easy and in the mid 80's when I arrived it was virtually impossible to find banana leaves in the Washington Metropolitan area. However, towards the early 90's I started finding banana leaves (frozen ones) in oriental stores in the area. In the last few years to my surprise, Indian families started growing banana trees in their backyards and now more fresh banana leaves are available during the summer.
So, when one of the organizers of Don Rockwell group contacted me to have their group dinner at Indique Heights, I thought for a while as to what to serve this group of foodies.... By the way, for those folks who are not from the Washington Metropolitan area - Donrockwell.com is a fun food site with over three thousand members who love food, and call themselves "foodies". The topics discussed on their portal include, restaurants in the Washington Metropolitan area, Baltimore, etc.
After all when a group of foodies are coming to your place for dinner, you want to give them a unique experience. When asked to post the menu on their site in advance, I somehow put it away by giving different excuses and finally had to tell them that it was going to be a surprise. After considerable discussions with my management team , we came up with an idea of taking them on a meandering culinary journey through the south of India. We put together a menu and we tried to include several dishes from our existing menu so that if they liked it and wanted to come back with their families or friends it would be available. Here is a copy of the menu that we served . The appetizers were passed around in a very contemporary style and the dinner was served in a very traditional style on a banana leaf . To my surprise not one person in this group asked for a fork or a spoon.The group was also presented with a multi- media presentation - "Indian Cuisine in the contemporary world today"
Here is the copy of the Menu and some pictures from the event.
At my home in Gaithersburg for the festival of Onam, we serve a typical "Sadya" on a banana leaf every year and many of my friends are familiar with this tradition. It was the first time doing this in our restaurant, and I am glad to report that it was very succesful. Cheers!
Don't forget that eating on a banana leaf is :
eco friendly, biodegradable, and sustainable!