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How to Cook With Banana Leaves

How to Cook With Banana Leaves

How to Cook With Banana Leaves

Cook With Banana Leaves

Cook With Banana Leaves

Cooking with real banana leaves is a foodie art since preparing banana leaves for cooking, wrapping, and serving of rice, fish meat recipes is easy.

How to Cook With Banana Leaves

Banana leaves impart an aroma to food that is cooked in or served on them; steaming with banana leaves imparts a subtly sweet flavor and aroma to the dish.

The leaves are not themselves eaten and are discarded after the food is eaten. Besides adding flavor, banana leaves are perfect for cooking cook fish, vegetables, rice or just about anything.

Banana leaves are used for baking wrapped food in the same way you would use tin foil or parchment paper. It is important to know banana leaf packets should be placed in a baking dish so the juices don't drip to the bottom of your oven. 

How to Cut Banana Leaves

Use scissors to cut banana leaves into the size you need, depending on your recipe. For wrapping and baking food items, you will need a large leaf. Place enough for one serving in the center of the leaf, and then fold like a handkerchief to make a square packet and tie with string or a long strip of banana leaf.

Selling fish and rice wrapped with banana leaves in Ghana
Selling fish and rice wrapped with banana leaves in Ghana

Banana Coconut Rice Recipe


2 cups of rice

4 ripe bananas, peeled, halved length-ways, then cross-ways

½ cup of coconut milk

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 large banana leaves, cut into 20 cm x 30 cm rectangles


In a saucepan add rice, stir in the coconut milk, spices and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 4-6 minutes, or until the coconut milk has been absorbed and the rice is thick and sticky. Cool for 5-10 minutes.

Soften the banana leaves by microwaving for a few minutes. Place one heaping tablespoon of cooled rice in the center of the leaf. Next, add a single piece of banana, followed by another tablespoon of rice on top of the banana, fold the sides of the leaves over and tie.

Repeat with the remaining banana leaves, rice, and banana. Half-fill a large steamer or saucepan with water and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Place the finished banana leaves in the steamer basket, and set it over the pan of water. Steam for 30 minutes. Cool serve warm and enjoy.

Facts About Banana Leaves, Green and Yellow Bananas

The banana is indigenous to Asia and Africa, where more than seventy distinct musa species of the genus are known. Musa is one of two or three genera in the family Musaceae; it includes bananas and plantains. Around 70 species of Musa are known, with a broad variety of uses.

How Banana Leaves Grow

The leaves grow upward, the first being tightly rolled and sharply pointed. Growth takes place rapidly as new leaves are pushing up through the center while the stalk increases in height until it is several yards above the ground. What seems to be the trunk of the young tree is in reality only a compact mass of overlapping leaf-sheaths. As the plant develops, the young, growing leaves within push the older leaf-sheaths outward, and a smooth, shiny, strong pseudo-trunk is formed. At the upper end, the leaves bend away from the trunk and form a distinct leaf- stem, or petiole, and blades. These immense, bright-green leaf-blades, or leaves.

Five Phases of Banana Ripening

Because bananas ripen so quickly, the retailer buys them partially ripe —when the tips are still green. The peel of the banana acts as a color guide to tell us when the fruit is ripe. When the peel is yellow, except for a slight green tip, the pulp is firm and somewhat starchy. At this partially ripe stage, bananas either should be left at comfortable room temperature to become completely ripe or should be cooked.

As cold temperatures prevent proper ripening and the development of the fine natural flavor, you should keep your bananas out of the refrigerator. There is no harm, however, in placing fully ripe, sliced bananas in the refrigerator for cooling when used in salads and fruit cups. To keep sliced or cut bananas from turning dark, just dip the slices into or sprinkle them with lemon juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice fresh or canned or pineapple juice. There is an ever-increasing number of ways to serve these delightfully different cooked bananas.

Green or Unripe Bananas

Green bananas are not sweet and are higher in starches than yellow bananas. As bananas ripen and turn yellow, the starches transform into natural sugars.

Partially Ripe Bananas

When partly ripe with a slightly green tip, the banana may be baked, broiled or fried and served as a vegetable with the main course of the meal. At this stage of ripeness, the banana is tart and firm and has a distinctive and delicious flavor when cooked.

Yellow Ripe Bananas

Yellow ripe bananas are excellent for cooking and can be used as an ingredient in broiled and deep fat and shallow fried banana recipes.

Fully Ripe Bananas

When fully ripe the peel is all yellow and flecked with brown and the pulp is mellow. The banana is now ready for immediate eating right out of its germ-proof peel as a sweet fruit or in salads, shortcakes, fruit cups, and shakes.

Overripe Bananas

At this fully ripe stage practically all the starch has been converted into sugar and the flavor has developed to its highest taste. The pulp is very soft and is thoroughly digestible. Also at this stage, the fruit adds fullness of flavor to loaves of bread, muffins, fritters, waffles, and cakes. 

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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My mother is a historian of African culture and history and her influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

Chic African Culture

Elegant but earthy The African Gourmet and Chic African Culture highlights African culture, food recipes, modern and ancient history.

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