Bananas are arguably the most important fruits in the world economy. And we are not only talking about dessert bananas as one would normally imagine. We are also talking about bananas used for cooking, a.k.a. plantains.
Those are also cultivars in the Musa genus. Generally, they tend to be much starchier than the regular sweet ones. That’s why they are known as “cooking bananas”. They can be green and usually lack a very distinctive flavour and sweetness. But they provide a piece of texture. Moreover, they fruit all year round, making them a very reliable food source in many countries.
But obviously, there is no strict botanical distinction between bananas and plantains. The term is loose and can be applied to any banana that is not eaten raw but cooked.
A food staple across the world
Plantains are a food staple in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean countries, Central and South America. They are treated with the same piety as potatoes in some regions that heavily rely on them. Their blandness and starchiness are the key features. They help with the diverse cooking strategies of each region.
Plantains can be steamed, broiled, coiled, fried, etc. In Côte d’Ivoire – the home of the alloco dish – plantains are covered with tomato sauce. Surprised? You definitely should give it a try!
Take two plantains (go for greener bananas if you cannot find plantains). Skin them, cut in halves lengthwise, then cut into smaller pieces. Pour 1 cup of vegetable oil into a pot and put it on high heat. When it’s hot enough, put the fruits inside and deep fry until golden brown. Put in a sieve for 5 minutes to let the oil drain.
Meanwhile chop 4 large tomatoes, 1 medium yellow onion, 3 cloves of garlic, and 1 small chilli pepper. Toss them in a blender. Blend on high speed until you have a smooth consistency. Then pour the mixture into a pan. Put on medium-high heat to evaporate the excess liquid. Season with salt and pepper, add some parsley to taste. Then put the drained bananas on a plate and pour the tomato sauce on top.
Recommendations go as far as adding boiled eggs, fried fish or fried chicken to the dish. Wow!
Fried bananas – a worldwide popular snack
Frying bananas is a deeply rooted tradition in many parts of the world. In Nigeria, the fruits are roasted on a grill and served with groundnuts.
But they are not only served as a single snack. They can go together with meat in pepper sauce or with a roasted chicken. Then again, look at the fruit as the source of starch. Such pairing ceases to be something unusual. It starts to feel like a regular kind of meat and potatoes or fish and rice dish.