Malaysia Food Exploration: Banana Leaf Meal

After a few days in Kuala Lumpur we took a coach to Penang.

We’d booked a hotel on the edge of the part of George Town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A short walk away was the New World Park (Jalan Burma), home to a food court and a number of restaurants including Passions of Kerala, which specialises in banana leaf cuisine.

banana leaf meal

As you might be beginning to suspect from the photo, a banana leaf meal is served on a banana leaf and is an Indian meal consisting of rice and an assortment of curries. You might have encountered a thali in the UK (such as those served at the brilliant Thali Café branches in Bristol), and the experience is similar.

We both chose tomato rice as opposed to plain, and it came with the 4 vegetable curries/relishes you can see on the leaf along with the 3 curries you can see in the white bowls (mostly gravy as opposed to meat). The vegetable curries were excellent; fresh and very different to those you encounter in a standard Indian restaurant in the UK. In particular we both loved the tomato and gourd curry you can see second left on the leaf. Its sweet spiciness was a real delight.

Not realising how much was included in the set meal, we had also ordered a mutton curry and two pieces of fried fish. Both of these were wonderful too; the fish was beautifully crisp on the outside and moist within, and the mutton masala full of chunks of tender meat in a rich sauce.

The price was ludicrously small considering the amount and quality of the food. In the interest of full disclosure we had eaten another banana leaf meal a few days previously at a Brickfields restaurant in KL, and while it was pleasant, it was distant second compared to our experience here.

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