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.

Plantain 1

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.

Plantain 2
Plantain 3
Plantain 4
Plantain 5
Plantain 6
Plantain 7

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.

Kelewele 3

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.

Kelewele 2

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Comment : (daphne)

Kate- u enlightened me to the difference. They look the same to me without you saying! (hot garlic)

I have never had plantains made this way but it sounds delicious and how can you not want to make something when the picture of it takes your breath away!? (Rasa Malaysia)

I think so, but taste-wise, it’s pretty obvious. When I was in the Carribean, the local tour guide drove me to the banana trees and the plaintain trees, and told me the exact difference to them. It was educational. 😉 (Gattina)

K, you are a wonderful journalist! This series of photos about roasting plantain is eye-popping! (Kate / Kajal)

maimoona, bhajias sound nice 🙂

beachlover, that would a nice way to have ’em !n ooh what have you got for me …coming right over 🙂

Maya, you u welcome 🙂

daphne, well in that case i’m glad i could help :)!

hot garlic, you are too kind ! thanks !

Bee, its always nice to know the difference 🙂

Gattina, thanks so much, i love taking photographs ! (Amber)

Just thought I would let you know who won the next “Paying It Forward” gift since you were also one. At midnight of the 7/8th I selected Leslie of “The Hungry Housewife”. I do not know how to link in my posts on a Mac so if you do please let me know. She is in my Tasty Links though so you can click there and say hi and congratulations. I think it is fun to follow where this leads.

And I absolutely love the woven dishes the kelewele is served in, they look like banana split dishes in the U.S. and everyone loves banana splits. The woman in the photos has such a beautiful face and smile. (Mandira)

this is my first time to you blog and have been reading it for the last 30 min… delicious, no gorgeous pictures! (nicisme)

I wish that plantains were readily available here, I shall just have to keep looking.
Great photos! (Cakebrain)

I just your the photos! Plantains are so good fried…I haven’t had them any other way yet. They look particularly delicious in your dish! (avesta)

I know I’ve said this before but seriously…your pictures are amazing! I need some lessons! (Kate / Kajal)

Amber, thanks for taking the trouble. Its amazing to know how far this has gone 🙂 .As for the linking … i’m clueless, as you see i didn’t link up either !
These little boats were purchase in a tiny village in China, when i was there in the beginning of this year.

Mandira ..:D i’m smiling real big ..thanks !

nicisme , good luck !! i hope you find some soon.

Cakebrain, thanks, they are , you have to try them out !

Avesta , thanks … come over for a class anytime 🙂 bring me that baklava cheesecake as well ! (The Food Traveller)

Fantastic photos, that is all I can see … ad yes, I also got confused between the two at first and tried to eat the wrong one raw, arg! (Nora B.)

Hi Kate,
That looks so utterly delicious!! My grandma used to make a similar dish, before we all got health conscious. But I think that if you put this in front of me now, I wouldn’t think twice of eating it! :-)) (Esi)

I’ve been eating this pretty much since I was born. Beautiful (Medena)

What a delight visiting your blog! I have missed it!
Great post; always something new, and you always make me wish I was there to try! 🙂 (Mochachocolata Rita)

havent tried plantains for savoury dishes before!…hmmm wondering where can i find such dishes in hong kong (before i cook it myself hehe) (Andreea)

how wonderful. and more good news (hint, hint) on the way … (Helene)

Lot’s of good info. I don’t eat or buy plaintains but I love your pictures. Everything looks so good. (Valentina)

Kate, bananas are big in Brazil but our versions of plantain are popular in the north east where my parents come from. This way of preparing over ripe ones is fantastic. i am going to tell my aunt about it – she still lives in north east Brazil.Love this post, the great photos.And you have such lovely writing style. (Zen Chef)

I love your pictures so much. It’s like traveling without leaving the room. Beautiful stuff. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 (Janna)

I love fried plantains! We used to get them at a Cuban restaurant in California when we lived there. So yummy with the crispy edges. Mmmm! I love the idea of putting sesame seeds on them. 🙂


Kate, as the posts I had saved in my RSS reader were matched with their same posts from the new site, I could really see what you’ve done with all of your archives and not just new posts. This really is so nicely done! I love it : )

Peanut Butter

Your recipes are great!

Uh… spelled vegetarian incorrectly.

This is great ~ we had plantains at a restaurant in our neighborhood and we couldn’t get enough of them. Hopefully I can source some out and try out these recipes!
~ j

I love plantains, and this is such a great recipe!


In India, these plantains are very commonly available only in Kerala. In Kerala there are lots of delicacies made out of it. You can probably search for some “malabar cusines”. Few popular ones are “Unnakai”, “pazham pori” etc.

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