Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Recipe for Tatales & Bambara | Plantain Pancakes & Beans from Ghana

Here's another dish that features the popular staple food plantain. Tatales are sweet and savory pancakes made from mashed plantain, cornmeal and spices. They're often served as a side dish or lunch. The classic way to eat them is with bambara bean stew, that really complements the pancakes. 

We really enjoyed this, and the kids even asked for seconds. There is a nice sweetness to the plantains, that need to be over ripe to use in this recipe. The beans really do taste good with the pancakes, and happily, we discovered a few days prior to making this that Pea no longer minds beans, which worked out quite well! Bambara beans are not readily available, so a common substitution are black eyed peas. This makes a great vegetarian meal by the way. Do keep in mind that the tatales do not make good leftovers. 

Tatales and Bean Stew

Serves 4-6


  • 2 over ripe plantains, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • oil for cooking (either vegetable oil or palm oil)

1. Start by mashing the plantain with a potato masher. This bit takes a little work. You don't want the batter to be completely smooth (so don't use a blender), but good and mashed. Add the onion, cornmeal and spices and stir to combine. Then add the water, stir to combine, and let sit for 20- 30 minutes.

It's a good time to start the beans while the batter sits (below).

2. Heat a pan with about 2 tbsp of oil on medium high heat. Drop a ladle full or approximately 1/3 cup of the batter to the pan and spread into a circle. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the pancake is firm enough to turn, then cook on the other side. Drain on paper towel before serving. Be sure to keep your pan oiled between batches.

Serve with bean stew 

Bean Stew
  • 4 cups cooked black eyed peas
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups canned tomatoes
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (optional, to make it spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup red palm oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Puree together in a blender the tomatoes, onion, pepper if using and ginger. 

2. Heat the oil in a pan on medium low heat - when heated, but not too hot, add the tomato mixture and cook until thickened, approximately 15 minutes. Add beans and season with salt and pepper. 

Serve with tatales and enjoy!

You can find our recipe for Kelewe - a popular snack in many areas of West Africa of spiced and fried plantain, here

You can find all of our West African recipes here.



  1. There's a couple of Cuban restaurants near us that serve plantains and my husband loves them when he goes there. Ironically enough he's not usually a fan of sweet foods as part of a meal.

    1. I think with plantains its not so much that they are sweet, but a nice complementary sweetness to savory - kind of like kettle popcorn, or sea salt chocolate- ok that one is sweet :) And now I'm craving some!


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