By Kim Boodram
Story Created: Oct 12, 2011 ECT
Story Updated: Oct 12, 2011 at 2:30 AM ECT
Soharee or "so real"?
Most Trinidadians will be familiar with the East Indian tradition of eating on a leaf – usually a soharee and when that is scarce, sometimes a banana leaf. Well, a new practice has come to town, one that is quickly picking up a following in India and other areas where the diaspora has settled – the paper leaf. Formed to resemble the beloved soharee, these 'leaves' are made of food grade paper and are resistant to the hottest choka or the runniest karahi (a type of dhal).
And with the Hindu festival of Divali set for October 26, sales are expected to increase. Thick and featuring a glossy side, this 'leaf' is moisture repellent for the most part of the meal and can be folded and disposed of in the same way as traditional organic leaves. A representative of Caroni-based Chatak Foods, the sole local distributors of Indian-manufactured SAS Paper Banana Leaf, said the modern take is gaining popularity because of its conveniences.
"These are much easier to access that traditional leaves," the representative said. Usually, the host of the Indian function would have to find an area where the soharee grows and have them cut. This is sometimes done by family members but with people becoming busier, this has also become a service for which the host will sometimes pay. With the annual urban sprawl, finding healthy, clean soharee leaves takes longer than in years past.
The leaves then have to be carefully washed and for some, stacked according to size. "This is all eliminated with the SAS leaves," the Chatak Foods representative said. "They are also very affordable, sold in packs of 100 for $50. So far, people really like them. This way, traditionalists do not have to give up eating with their hands for Divali or for prayers, which Indians believe makes the food taste sweeter." Business Express took the liberty of testing the paper leaves and it did indeed stand up to a runny mixture of basmati rice, aloo mutter and dhal makhani. SAS Paper Banana leaves are being sold at all branches of The Little Store and Chatak Foods has assured the public that its stocks can withstand high demand.