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 courtesy           

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 courtesy

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.


32 thoughts on “The Mandharai Leaf”

  1. 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

    1. With so many differentbtypes of cuisine within the subcontinent we are spoilt for choice, and yes most of our festivals – about 75 % of the days in a year there is some festival, in some part of India – are celebrated with yummy food….;););) Erika.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You hit the nail on the head with that comment. We actually had a big discussion about your comment over dinner tonight. So thank you for the thought provoking comment 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That is exactly what we were discussing. As it is different to our own it seems so exotic. So much tradition is there. Reading things like Nimi’s post makes you want to travel and experience the culture 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      3. It also has a lot to do with how their days are scheduled. In the Western culture nobody has time for such a passionate cooking. Yes, it truly makes you want to travel there for “tasting” the culture 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Good atleast some people talk about mandharai plant do you all know about its beauty of Lord Shiva and its siddha medicinal property but thanks by me you knew about it

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: