Recipe: Rice in Banana Leaves (Lontong) with Video

The people of Brunei are brilliant. I’ve got proof – the lontong. This compact, slightly perfumed packet of white rice, stuffed inside a banana leaf, is portable, sliceable, flavorful, and affordable. Oh, and cutting the rice logs up into neat coins makes for easy portion control.

Well. Ok. I’ll be honest. The coins just make it easier to pop a hundred million of them into my mouth. Yum.

Lontong represents everything I love about food around the world. While we share similar staples – rice, potato, pasta, beans – it is the seasoning and the preparation which gives each country a unique spin.

In the case of lontong, banana leaves infuse long grain rice with an earthy, grassy flavor. The result is mild “other-worldliness” – and insane, instantaneous addiction. I totally get why lontong is adored throughout Indonesia.

Kids will love the novelty of this savory treat with curry and soups. Serve at room temperature or chilled.



2 cups white long grain rice
4 cups water (or 2 cups water and 2 cups coconut milk)
banana leaves

NOTE: Banana leaves are available at Latino and Asian grocers – either in the produce or frozen food section.


1. Add rice, water, salt, and pepper to a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover and let cool slightly.

2. Roll banana leaves around a tube (an empty paper towel roll works perfectly) and secure end with a toothpick. Make them no taller than your pot. You can adjust the height by leaving more – or less – hanging off the end of the tube.

NOTE: There are two edges to a banana leaf – a tough edge with a light colored band and a soft end. You need to fold the soft end, so leave that hanging off the roll.

It’s easy as one…



Next, stuff banana leaves with rice mixture, tamping it in to make a nice firm roll.

3. Steam, with toothpick end down, in a tall pot for about 2 hours.

The banana leaves will turn a brownish green.

4. Let cool and unwrap. Slice into discs and serve at room temperature or cold.

Look. Lontong. Calling your name… with some lovely Sayur Lodeh (shrimp and vegetable curry).

Do you want some?

Opt In Image
Hungry for more?
Be notified when National Geographic releases my memoir.

Simply fill in your details below.


  1. Desihomecook says:

    The video is amazing… I am sure it will take me lots of tries to close the end.. Congratulations for producing the nice video of the recipe.

    • globaltable says:

      Thanks Desi! I thought it would be hard, like the empanadas (for Argentina), but this was actually quite easy after one or two tries. :) Let me know if you try it!

  2. That is soooo stinkin cool! It makes me want to make curry!

  3. Rice steamed in leaves is found throughout Southeast Asia, certainly in Southern China. (Most use sticky rice.) There was a little shop in Manhattan’s Chinatown that sold about 20 different varieties. They marketed them to non-Asians as “Chinese tamales”. They had a huge clientele, but the owners were getting old so they decided to close.
    you can see them stacked next to the cash register in the photo

  4. Hi Sasha,
    i love the look of these lontong! I enjoy eating Asian rice a lot because I grew up in Hawaii where rice is THE staple food.
    I continue to buy Asian rice in France(in Paris’ Chinatown) and I reguarly cook it in my rice cooker.

    I don’t know where I would get banana leaves. A friend of mine in the Lake Como area has found them in Milan… in a Philipino store!

    Happy cooking :)

    • globaltable says:

      Hmm, I wonder if you could find banana leaves in a Latino market – or Asian? That’s where I found mine. I’m sure Paris’ Chinatown is loaded up with them. I’m going to ask a contact I know and see if they have any ideas.

  5. elisa waller says:

    fantastic video.. I just love rice in any and every thing!
    I think you should start revealing your face in the videos..haha..or maybe not..makes it ever more intriguing. I like your choice in music too.

    • globaltable says:

      Thanks! Keith picks the music and edits the videos together. I’m very happy to NOT show my face. I’d actually have to rub the sleep out of my eyes if I did that :)

  6. mkshhhh resep nya

  7. Thank you for sharing


  1. […] [recipe], a fragrant shrimp coconut curry served with lontong (rice steamed in banana leaves) [recipe]. The rempah is made with lemongrass, cashews, ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Absolutely intense in […]

  2. […] Then there was Persian Sour Cherry Rice. I died. Rice cooked in banana leaf tubes, called¬†Longton. Lovely.¬†Rainbow Rice. I smile on the inside and outside. Kushary – mixed with noodles, […]

Speak Your Mind