In Malaysia, Banana Plants Give More Than Just Fruit

When I think about bananas, my mind wanders beyond the realm of fruit, smoothie fodder, and the perennial slipping-on-banana-peel gag. Because in Malaysia, and many other Asian countries around the equator where bananas grow in abundance, our cuisines …

When I think about bananas, my mind wanders beyond the realm of fruit, smoothie fodder, and the perennial slipping-on-banana-peel gag. Because in Malaysia, and many other Asian countries around the equator where bananas grow in abundance, our cuisines are laden not just with the fruit of the plant, but its droopy, fan-like leaves too.

While banana leaves are far too fibrous to be eaten raw or even cooked, they serve as excellent wrappers for food. Just like how parchment paper keeps fish en papillote moist and steamy, and how the grape leaves in Mediterranean dolmas hold and concentrate the juices of the meat and rice within, banana leaves can do the same.

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11 Delicious Reasons to Visit This Eclectic Malaysian Street

Petaling Street has kept much of its old charm, despite the rapid growth of Kuala Lumpur.

Photo by Jorge Láscar

Welcome to Your Friendly Neighborhood Guide, a…

Petaling Street has kept much of its old charm, despite the rapid growth of Kuala Lumpur. Photo by Jorge Láscar

Welcome to Your Friendly Neighborhood Guide, a series of travel itineraries from locals who love their hometown haunts, nooks, and crannies so much, they're inviting us over for the inside scoop.


Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is celebrated for many things: the Petronas Twin Towers, better known as the setting of the 1999 Sean Connery film Entrapment; our expansive (and expensive) shopping streets and malls; and a mishmash of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences—the three main cultures of the nation—that makes it difficult to encapsulate its spirit in a sentence, or in an article for that matter.

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