Thursday, January 2, 2014

Indian way of Eating

From the unknown past, eating from banana leaf has been a part of the Indian culture. The banana leaf is also a practical kitchen tool. As a food wrapper, it functions like a plastic wrap, parchment paper, and aluminium foil to prevent drying, sticking and retaining heat. You can lay a banana leaf down and serve food on it like a plate or place-mat, and fold it into various shapes as to-go containers. It's also great for lining steamer trays to prevent sticking. It's biodegradable
too. That’s ancient green living!

It is easily available and readily disposable. This is the reason why banana leaves are used in functions like weddings, birthday celebrations and other auspicious celebrations at home. In India
used banana leaves are fed to the cattle and are disposed of without causing much pollution. It is considered auspicious to put a bit of sweet dish (dessert) on the banana leaf to eat before the actual meal is placed.

According to tradition, one has to eat carbohydrates (rice) first, then protein (dal), iron-rich vegetables and fat (curd). This is the order in which food is served and consumed as well. It is even
more traditional to sit on the floor on a mat and eat one’s food. One has to squat as if one is sitting in the padmasana (lotus) pose. When we sit down and have food we have to bend a bit to take food into our mouth. And thus we won’t be over filled with food. People might have noticed this when they eat a sumptuous meal in temple. These days at home people have started eating at dining table watching a TV (not even knowing the amount of food they have consumed).

Similarly we usually consume our food with hands and we do wash our hands before we eat food
thus ensuring cleanliness. In India eating is perceived as being a sensual activity. the idea being that
one should be able to enjoy the process of eating with as many senses as possible- smell, taste, sight and texture.

Eating from a banana leaf is considered hygienic and healthy. Any guest can be served on a banana
leaf which is considered humble and respectful.

What are some of the benefits of serving food on banana leaves?
-Easily disposable and environment friendly (clean). Burn them and the ozone layers are not
affected.
-Why does food taste better when served or cooked in banana leaves?
-As there is no chemical reaction, the food keeps its value intact: it can endure heat and react well
without tearing apart from the heat.
-The green leaf adds value to food (just like any other greens) and it contains the leafy taste to make it better!