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Entrepreneur introduces pothichoru for Chennaiites, a homely meal packed in banana leaf

Have you heard about pothichoru? It is a Kerala traditional meal wrapped in a lightly tempered banana leaf. A tradition that has been followed in south India for centuries, it was not a choice at random but rather a unique selection because of its unique properties.

Entrepreneur introduces pothichoru for Chennaiites, a homely meal packed in banana leaf
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Meals wrapped in banana leaf: Aisha Rizwan Malik (right)

Chennai

Chennai-based entrepreneur Aisha Rizwan Malik has started a cloud kitchen called Ummachi’s Pothichoru where she home delivers pothichoru varieties. “In the old days, people used to carry their lunch in pothis instead of steel or plastic containers. It is called potlam saapadu in Tamil. Though it is common in rural areas, many urban-bred aren’t aware of pothichoru concept. I wanted to introduce this to Chennaiites and thus started the cloud kitchen initiative. Basically, pothichoru means lunch consisting of boiled rice, traditional dishes like moru curry, parippu, sambar, poriyals, chammanthi and any meat or fish varieties wrapped in a banana leaf. We are offering both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. You can unwrap the leaf and have the food from the leaf package itself,” says Aisha.

She stresses that instead of mixing different dishes and putting inside banana leaf, the magic of it lies in the combination of flavours. “For eg, for beef pothichoru, we have to prepare beef, moru curry, brinjal curry and any poriyal of your choice. For seafood pothichoru, the dishes (it can be prawns, fish, crab, squid) would be different. So, you have to first decide what combination you want and then make it accordingly. At Ummachi’s Pothichoru, we get a lot of orders for seafood pothichoru. We procure banana leaves from the market,” she adds.

There is a common misconception that food that is wrapped in banana leaves are just for flamboyant packaging. But Aisha begs to differ. “Apart from the nostalgic factor, banana leaves also provide some medicinal benefits. The leaves help in the absorption of oil, enhances flavours and release a wonderful aroma. High in antioxidants, banana leaves are known to boost our immune system and reduce inflammation among many other things. Also, the flavours you savour from a pothichoru can never be tasted when you pack it in plastic and moreover, you’re reducing plastic footprint as well. These are just some extra positives of pothichoru. After you prepare meals, transfer the food into a lightly tempered banana leaf and wrap and keep. When you try it for the first time, the taste would be different. But after a few days of having meals from a pothi, you will get used to it. If you are looking for a lifestyle change, let it start from your kitchen,” Aisha smiles.

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