|Plantain Market, Nigeria|
Photo Credit: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Throughout West Africa, plantains are regularly consumed either as a snack or side dish. They are related to bananas, but they are much starchier and the sweetness is more subtle. Though they can be eaten raw when ripe, they are usually cooked. Plantains can be fried, baked, boiled, pounded or dried and milled into flour. They can be used at all stages, whether still green or overly ripe.
A common way throughout West Africa to enjoy plantain is by frying it. Often known as dodo, green to ripe plantains are peeled and sliced diagonally, sprinkled with salt, and fried until golden in shallow oil. We tried Kelewele, spiced fried plantain, a popular snack in Ghana. They were tasty and fun.
|Road side stall selling Dodo, fried plantain in Burkina Faso|
Photo Credit: Roman Bonnefoy
How to Peel a Plantain
Peeling a plantain is not as easy as peeling a banana. Here are the steps, as demonstrated by Elle.
- First, cut off both ends.
- Hold the plantain firmly, and cut through the skin without cutting into the flesh. Cut along the length of the plantain.
- Carefully peel off the skin. Some pieces of plantain will stick to the peel (let it go), and some pieces of peel will stick to the plantain (cut off with a knife). Green peel will be much stiffer.
Kelewele: Spiced Fried PlantainWe all enjoyed this snack. Make sure to eat them when warm - they do not taste good reheated. This recipe makes a small snack for 4 people, and can easily be doubled. Adapted from The African Culinary Network
- 2 plantains
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped red onion
- 1 tbsp peeled and roughly chopped ginger
- 1/2 tsp aniseed
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more depending on how spicy you like it)
- Pinch of pepper
- 2 tbsp water
- oil for frying
- roasted peanuts to serve with
1. Cut the plantain in half lengthwise, and cut into small bite sized pieces.
2. Combine onion, ginger and spices into a food processor or grinder, and process into a paste. Stir together the plantain pieces and paste together, and let sit to absorb flavors for 20 minutes.
3. Heat a pan, and fill with about 1/2" of oil. Heat oil until hot, but not smoking.
4. Fry the plantain in batches, making sure not to overcrowd them. Fry, turning once, until golden, approximately 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Best for an adult to be doing this part, as hot oil can splash and burn.
5. Serve warm with roasted peanuts or try them alone.