The best way to chow down banana leaf rice is using your hand. Either you love it or you loathe it.
Most women would shun using their hands as the tumeric from the flavourful curries will stain their neatly manicured fingers. For men, it is an opportunity or reason to be a child again, playing food withe their nimble fingers.
I chanced upon a newly opened banana leaf rice restaurant at Taman Maluri, right next to the New Dragon restaurant (which is just 2 doors away from the old post office).
I had just wanted to have teh tarik but those waiters were a persuasive lots, with their not-too-perfect English.
“Boss, got banana leaf rice..got chicken varulval, masala chicken, curry chicken, fish also got..dhall curry..mango cutney..also popadom”..all the while swaying their heads left and right; as if to covert me unconsciously.
Alas, I gave in and swaying my head left and right, I gave a thumb up signaling I am going ahead with the banana leaf rice.
On cue, those waiters played their own individual roles. One laid the banana leaf in front of me and scooped heaps of fluffy white rice, smiling at me. Another came a short while later with a tiffin carrier, scooping all melange of vegetables onto the leaf; long beans, cucumber in yoghurt, potatoes mildly stir fried with curry and what have you. Yes he smiled too. The next came, also with a tiffin and this guy I guess he is the “le saucier”..in charge of sauces..he offered chicken curry sauce, dhall curry, mutton curry and the like.
Now, the last one whom I shall term him as the “butcher” as he is in charge of different meat..chicken, fish, mutton, more chicken, more fish and more mutton; all in different way of cooking. I settled for a piece of deep fried fish, again swaying my head left and right. I smiled in return.
It was pretty good and it did justice to my craving for banana leaf rice (it has been ages since I last had one in Taipan, Subang)
Once done, the appropriate way to fold the banana leaf is to fold the upper leaf towards you, indicating you enjoyed the meal. Well, that’s the custom back in India.
Oh yeah, you do see fork and spoon in the picture as I was lazy to go all the way to the back of the kitchen to wash my hand (normally they would offer a jug of water on the table and a finger bowl for hand washing)
Remember to sway left and right when ordering, when you do have banana leaf rice.