The Banana Leaf Meal Needs A Revolution

Recently Singapore was ranked No.1 in street food. To my knowledge, there is no street food in Singapore. This year Deepavali advertisements on mainstream media seem to have overt health-conscious theme to it. This may have rubbed some people the wrong way, drawing comparisons to equally unhealthy food options in other cultures. But statistics do not lie. 
Diabetes is prevalent among Indians. Heart Issues seem to be our natural friend. As a Singaporean Indian in my early 30s, I can easily count beyond 10 for the number of funerals of friend's parents that I know, mine recently included. 
I, for one used to be extremely nonchalant of my lifestyle, adopting a YOLO attitude and not caring one bit about what used to go in. My breakfast of champions was none other than the Roti Prata. While I love so many other cuisines, nothing comes close to my South Indian Banana leaf meal.  Don't even get me started on the alco.

Recent life decisions have now made me look carefully at what I consume and I have since realised that my south Indian Banana Leaf Meal is a no go, only because of the way Indian restaurants choose to present their age-old version. It's about time the Singapore Indian restaurant take a leap forward and adapt to the current needs of the population.

I am no food expert but these are 5 small ways that I believe can make a huge difference to the Indian lifestyle.

We need to move beyond the typical white rice/biryani rice option. I have visited this particular restaurant in Campell Lane, Chennai Arya Restaurant. This is a pure vegetarian restaurant and they had white rice,  tomato rice, lemon rice, coconut rice, tamarind rice, sambar rice etc. 

All restaurants need to offer the brown rice option minimally.  For those who are wondering what is wrong with the traditional white rice, White rice has a higher glycemic index, which means its carbs convert more quickly into blood sugar than brown rice. Higher intakes of white rice may result in a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

Other options will include quinoa or even riced cauliflower. 

Vegetables are a quintessential part of any meal of any cuisine. One fact we cannot disagree on is the quality of Indian restaurants in Malaysia.  One striking difference you will notice is the number of vegetable variety in Malaysian restaurants.
The first step can be increasing the stand 2 types of vegetables to 3. Secondly, restaurants should avoid their choice of vegetables based solely on cost. It is no surprise that we usually see the cucumber with yoghurt and/or the cabbage.  Where are the greens? Restaurateurs, stop being boring.
With many restaurants handing over the reins to the new generation, why can't this new generation of business owners think beyond technology and look the fundamental aspect of their business, ie, their FOOD.

Chicken 65, Fish Fry, Mysore Mutton, Chettinadu Chicken, Fish Cutlet. Pepper Mutton. I doubt the menu in the Tekka restaurants has changed significantly in decades.

Healthier methods: Grilling, Baking, Steaming, roasting.
The above methods instinctively suggest a connotation to western cuisine. What we need to realise that Indian cuisine is not restricted to the cooking method but rather to the inclusion of spices that make it uniquely 

This area of the food pyramid needs to make a resurgence on the leaf. Restaurants need to go beyond the boring Sambar /Rasam / Fish Curry / Chicken Curry combination. They can perhaps have one lentil-based dish per day Lentils are low in calories, rich in iron and folate and an excellent source of protein.


What is a meal without a dessert? Instead of sticking to the same old payasam or Gulab Jamun, there are so many creative alternatives, incorporating ingredients like coconut,  yoghurt, fruits, banana chips, nuts, corn etc. 
Note To Restaurant Owners:
You may be quick to dismiss this article. You may assume that we do not take your profit margins and all these changes will incur in more costs. You may also worry about the demand for these healthier alternatives. 

Well, if you do take it up, we will do our best to get the word out abt your initiative. This is simply the right thing to do. Service of food is more than just profit and its a responsibility to the people.

All we need is one restaurant owner /caterer to start this food revolution.

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