Banana Leaf is more than just a surprise. Bali has many unique locations for dining, on mountains, beaches, rivers and rice paddies. Banana Leaf is different, an open terrace facing giant trees in a forest gorge. With limited direct sunlight the place is always pleasantly cool. To just sit here and sip a coffee or an Indian Lassi is really 'nirvana'. But as they say in those awful TV commercials '..and that is not all' Banana Leaf also serves traditional Indian cuisine from the south, exotic tastes, great value!
Going to this Nirvana Villas & Suites complex is a special journey. Motor vehicles can only progress so far, there is a general holding area for cars venturing further [motor bikes can proceed all the way]. It is a pleasant 400 metre walk [all downhill] on a well made narrow road, through the cool, majestic forest to reach Nirvana and Banana Leaf. However if you wish you can call them when you arrive at the parking and they will send the hotel buggy to collect you [definitely the way to return uphill to your car after eating]. Their road entrance is opposite the well known Vespa Café, but the sign is well back from the road corner as there is a temple there, at the bend in the main road between Sayan and Penestenan.
It begins at breakfast time with Egg Burji - scrambled eggs with herbs, plain parathas, yoghurt and pickles. Aloo Paratha - whole wheat unleavened bread stuffed with potato and cumin. Bangalore Masala Dosai - crisp rice pancake filled with savoury potato, served with chutney. The Dosai is available as an anytime snack, all day, and is entirely gluten free.
As Banana Leaf is a part of the Nirvana Villas & Suites complex it also serves non?Indian dishes, breakfasts [all served with their Bakers Basket of muffins, croissant and Danish] that are Indonesian [Bubur Ayam, Mie or Nasi Goreng] and others styled as Mona Lisa [French toast or Banana Pancakes with cinnamon, sugar and honey] or The Full Monty [eggs many different ways plus chicken sausage, pork bacon, tomato, baked beans and hash brown]. I can not imagine a more pleasant locale at which to enjoy a leisurely breakfast.
The cuisine of southern India uses many spices, the result producing extraordinary intense tastes. A variety of Thali [Indian platters] are served including the Royal Tanjore, pan-fried masala of chicken/biryani, savouries, curd, paratha, papadum, relishes and sweet. With a selection of many small dishes this is definitely the best way to enjoy a first or solo visit.
Seafood Malabar, Chicken Chettinad and Chicken Nawabi Biryani are all hearty Indian curries. For the vegetarians there is Bombay Aloo Gobi, Bangalore Masala Dosai, Punjabi Aloo Paratha and from Delhi, Chenna Masala Puri. Also served are a range of salads, soups, sandwiches, light meals and even pizzas, again the required range for the villa complex.
The Chicken Nawabi Biryani is different from a normal Biryani as with this version from Hyderabad [the capital of Telangana in Southern India] the raw chicken is actually cooked with the rice, along with a mountain of spices, the result on the plate much more than just fried rice [pictured].
A similar multi-spice treatment is given to the Chicken Chettinad [again named after the region in Tamil Nadu, from which it emanates]. Chunks of meat are liberally coated with the spice mix, the taste hot and pungent from the freshly ground masala. In Chettinad food, the most important spices are maratti mokku (dried flower pods), anasipoo (star aniseed) and kalpasi (a lichen known as the "black stone flower" or Patthar Ke Phool, (also known as dagad phool). In addition, tamarind, whole red chillies, and sombu (fennel seed) are also used along with pattai (cinnamon), lavangam (cloves), bay leaf, karu miLagu (peppercorn), jeeragam (cumin seeds), and venthayam (also called mendhiyam) (fenugreek).
The taste is as complex as the recipe!
At weekends there are two specials, served from 12.00 noon till 8.00 p.m. Saturdays it is an Ayurvedic Vegetarian Platter and on Sundays a non-vegetarian Southern Indian Buffet. Any day you can order the Royal Vega selection [for just Rp. 64,000++], dry vegetable seeds, lentils, savouries, curd, paratha and pappadum [made with seasoned dough from black gram], steamed rice, relishes and sweets.
If you are in a group of 6 persons or more, any day or the week, you can order their special Wellness 7 course meal, what they call their Yoga Health Platter. Natural juices are followed by raw fruits and vegetables and semi-cooked fresh produce, all by Ayuvedic principles. Then follows a Thali [platter] of vegetables, legumes, lentils, curd, rice, relishes, pappadum and sweet. Your menu composition will result from a discussion between you and Chef Rohit.
Whenever you go to Banana Leaf, particularly for the first time, it is best to order a Thali [platter with many small portions] and you will be introduced to many new tastes. Great food, exotic tastes and a forest setting that is quite amazing, and all at those budget prices.