Can you tell the difference between a banana and a plantain ? Well actually about 5 yrs ago i couldn’t . I used to be like …. ahh whats the big deal … its just a big banana ! Haha how ignorant i was … actually there is a difference between the 2. For starters you cannot eat plantain raw, you have to cook it – steam it, boil it, fry it, grill it … unlike a banana, which you can just eat raw – as it ripens. Plantains are surely from the same family, but are actually a lot more starchier, less sweeter and bigger in appearance. This vegetable-banana tastes different at every stage of development. The interior color of the fruit will remain creamy, yellowish or lightly pink. When the peel outside is green to yellow, the flavor of the flesh is bland and its texture is starchy. As the peel changes to brown or black, it turns sweeter and resembles the aroma of a banana, but still keeps a firm shape when cooked.
These are actually native to India, but I had never eaten a plantain until i got to Africa. They grow very well in the tropical regions and are a staple in the diet here. The most common way, and rather the easiest way is to have it roasted. At every nook and corner here in Ghana, you will find street vendors with their little stalls selling roasted plantain and groundnuts for a mere 50cents.
Another way i really like plantains is Kelewele. Its a Ghanaian snack dish and it can be had either as savoury or sweet dessert. When you have over ripe bananas, you make banana cake/bread. When you have over ripe plantains, you make kelewele !
- 4 ripe plantains
- 1/4 th of an onion cut in pieces
- 2 big red chillis
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 5- 6 pieces of cloves , finely powdered
- pinch of salt
- oil for deep frying
- a few sesame seeds for garnish
- 1 tsp toasted dessicated coconut for garnish
Start with cutting the plantains in strips and removing the seeds. Them them in diagonal pieces and set them aside. In a grinder, put together the rest of the ingredients (except the oil) and grind to a smooth paste. Now coat the plantain pieces in this and let it sit for about 5 mins. Heat up the oil, and make sure it is very hot before you fry the plantain. Fry them in batches , till they get a beautiful golden brown colour. That is when the natural sugar in the plantains has caramelized and it full flavour has been brought out.
I like to fry my pieces a wee bit more so i get a few crunchy ones in there. Drain well on a kitchen towel. This does have a tendency to soak up a lot of oil. The softer the plantain the more oil it will absorb. Serve in platter lined with plantain leaves and garnish with toasted desiccated coconut and sesame seeds. This can be either had just as it is, or even with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.