The Science behind South Indians Eating Food on Banana Leaves

While eating in banana leaf does have health benefits, especially the presence of potassium and ECGC in all products of banana, our South Indian ancestors did not worry about the science but about more practical reasons that the banana leaf offered.

The simple reason banana leaves were used was that,

  1. They are long and wide enough to accommodate a lot of food.
  2. They don’t leak water or any liquid.
  3. A new plate for each meal. They are used and throw. No need to clean. Just throw away or compost it.
  4. They were probably in abundance, as banana plants would have been cultivated for its other products like fruit and fibre. Bronze or Copper plates would have been costlier and iron plates would get rusted. There was no stainless steel in the past like now. So, banana leaves are an ideal choice.
  5. Roasted banana leaves are good for packaging. We can even pack liquid stuff like gravies, sambars, and even water with slightly roasted banana leaves. During our train trips, we slightly roast the banana leaves and fill up Puliyodharai in it and fold it and tie with banana fibre. Roasted banana leaves do not tear easily when folded.

Image: Banana leaf being roasted to make is suitable for packaging.

Even if Banana did not offer any health benefits, it would still be used as plates.

Using banana leaf as a plate or a packaging medium is not unique to South India, but also to many other countries, especially the ones close to the equator.


Image: A popular Filipino Dessert called Cassava Suman packed and served in banana leaves.

Latin America:

Image: A popular Latin American Dessert called Tamales.


Image: A popular Ugandan Dessert called Luwombo.

The usage of banana leaf as a plate or packaging is predominantly for comfort, ease, taste and aroma rather than the health benefits it offers.

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