I’ve been wanting to cook plantains for a long time but I’ve never seen them in the grocery store. I guess that’s because I’ve been living in an Italian area for the past six years.
Recently Jonas and I moved into a new area. Initially I was a little sad and reluctant, because I’d moved away from a wonderful supply of ingredients, but now I’m beginning to brighten up.
I’ve discovered new ingredients from cuisines I’ve barely touched upon in the past. A specialist grocery store across the street contains an amazing array of items from the Pacific islands, India, Africa and Latin America. Fufu powder, palm oil, ajowan and tomatillos are just the tip of the iceberg.
And then I saw the plantains . . . a perfect final WHB before Jonas and I embark on our belated honeymoon in Bali, an island of Indonesia.
I’ve read that this Ghanaian snack is often sold by street vendors in Africa but that many Americans may be familiar with the dish through Kwanzaa cookbooks.
Traditionally kelewele are cubes of plantains, but I just couldn’t resist keeping the banana-like shape to remind me of the exciting source of this starchy snack.
I got this recipe from the www.Ghana.co.uk website, which has a variety of Ghanaian recipes gathered from various online sources.
We did tweak the final step a little, using smoked sea salt rather than regular salt. This added a beautiful earthy, smokiness to the crispy pieces.
Recipe from www.Ghana.co.uk. Serves 2-3 as a side dish or snack.
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground chilli (cayenne)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
1. Mix the ginger root, chilli and salt then mix with water.
2. Toss together the plantain cubes and spice mixture. Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.
3. Heat oil in frying pan then fry until golden on both sides, making sure they don’t gather together while frying.
4. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.
Note: some recipes use other spices such as ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, red pepper flakes and water instead of lemon juice.
It’s really important to keep the spice count up as plantains can be a bit bland on their own. They taste of potato with a slight hint of banana.
Plantains are very starchy fruit which are used more like a vegetable. They must be cooked before being eaten and are low in sugar content, although I suppose a black plantain (at its ripest stage) may be eaten raw.
It seems that green plantains are best for savoury dishes but when they get a little riper you can use them for desserts too.
Green plantains are very hard to peel and I used a potato peeler to get into the starchy flesh. In fact it’s so starchy my hands were coated with sticky starch even after washing.
Apparently they come from tropical South East Asia, particularly the Malay Archipelago, but they feature heavily in the diets of the Caribbean and west Africa. There they use plantains the way Europeans use potatoes: they can be fried, boiled, mashed or baked.
In Vietnam and Laos the plantain flowers are used to make salads and soups and the large leaves can be used as plates or wraps when cooking food. As the plant will only fruit once, after the harvest the stalk can be peeled to reveal a soft shoot which is also eaten.
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Tags: morsels and musings food blog food and drink australia recipes weekend herb blogging whb snack spicy plantains side dish appetiser plantains chilli ginger ghanaian recipes ghanaian food ghanaian cuisine plantain recipes african recipes african food african cuisine