The Mandharai Leaf


Earlier this week, one of my friends spoke to me about a South Indian delicacy called Kanchipuram Idlis.  We then went on to talk about how these idlis are sometimes steamed in small cups made out of the leaves of the Bauhinia Creeper plant; locally known as the Mandharai plant.

image

                 Image courtesy            
        http://indiabiodiversity.org

The leaves are big and have a lovely fragrance.

Picnics and train journeys in my childhood were incomplete without these Mandharai leaves, as all our food was packed in dried Mandharai leaves.

These were then wrapped-over with brown paper and tied into small compact packets with twine – one for each of us. We had freshly steamed idlis soaked in chutney powder, tamarind rice, lemon rice and the South Indian’s must-have curd rice.

We usually carried food that would keep till our journey ended. These leaves were easy to carry and easy to dispose, healthy, organic and recyclable.

We eagerly waited for the train to leave the station, just so that we could get started on our packets. Pickles were packed in another small leaf.

The Mandharai leaf lends itself so beautifully to creativity. Artistically- folded, dried Mandharai leaves can be made into recyclable cups, bowls and plates.  These are usually stitched together with strands of fibre. These cups are called ‘dhonnais’.

image

                     Image courtesy
              http://www.spiceindiaonline.com

If you ever visit South India, you should eat piping hot Venn Pongal (a local breakfast delicacy) in a ‘dhonnai’, and wash it down with strong filter coffee.

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31 Responses to The Mandharai Leaf

  1. Erika Kind says:

    Reading your cooking traditions always gives the feeling that cooking in India (and some other cultures) is not only to prepare food but is a celebration. And I guess that is what makes that food so special.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Alok Singhal says:

    I didn’t know what these leaves are called and that even the folded ones are of them…thank you for sharing!

    Like

  3. Oh my…now I’m very hungry looking at that food and the great way to wrap it! Yummy.

    Like

  4. Very practical and natural!

    Like

  5. katelon says:

    That’s so wonderful!!!

    Like

  6. Veni says:

    ummm…. Yummy luscious 😋

    Liked by 1 person

  7. reocochran says:

    I like the way these leaves can create a bowl, Nimi. I also admire cultures where life is celebrated and much gratitude comes anout. 🙂

    Like

  8. andeepak says:

    Yup nothing like piping hot sakarai pongal or venn pongal from temples in donnai 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Adrian B says:

    Venn Pongal looks delicious , but I prefer the mild one. do you have?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. amoafowaa says:

    Reblogged this on Mum C writes and commented:
    A new thing learnt. Great to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reginald says:

    i need the mandharai leaf to buy in bulk

    Liked by 1 person

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