I normally associate plantains with Puerto Rican cooking, where they are served with most meals as tostones, fried twice to soften their starchyness and mashed flat the final time so they can be crispy all over and – if they’re at their best – smeared with a bit of mashed garlic, salty and crusty and utterly delicious.
Or they can be left until they’re a bit riper and cooked into Pastelón, a Puerto Rican casserole that bears a faint resemblance to lasagna or moussaka – lovely layers of glossy fried vegetables, with the very light sweetness of the plantains a satisfying contrast to the salty seasoning in the hearty meat filling.
Or they can be left until they’re completely ripe and have sugared and softened, then fried in a batter and served like instant melting pudding in a crispy sugared donut shell, with ice cream melting all over them. So… yeah, I really, really like plantains. But this isn’t any of those recipes.
But I like those recipes so well I forget how good this recipe is and that it’s actually a lot easier to make than any of those dishes. One of my Puerto Rican friends mentioned a former coworker who was Indian made plantains for her and she was surprised to find many of the seasonings were familiar but the form was completely different. I don’t know how close this recipe is to what she had that night, but at least now I can send it to her and she can see if it matches her memory:
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 2 Tbs ground coriander seed
- 1 Tbs ground cumin seed
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 Tbs gram flour
- 1 Tbs canola oil
- 4 plantains
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1/4 tsp whole cumin seed
- 1/4 tsp black mustard seed
Remove thick stems from cilantro. Place ground spices (not cumin seed or mustard seeds) and 1 Tbsp. oil in food processor and process to a thick paste. (Or, chop cilantro finely and knead spices and oil and herb together in a shallow bowl)
Cut plantains into thirds and cut a slit lengthwise that goes almost to the skin on the other side. Pack with spice mixture and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat oil and add whole seeds. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes or until spices brown and mustard seeds start to pop. Add plantains and turn until coated in oil. Simmer for 15-30 minutes, covered, turning occaisionally, until plantains are soft but not mushy. The time will depend on the texture of the plantains and the heat.
Ingredient Note: I don’t think this recipe would be worth trying with normal bananas, the texture and flavor would be too different. The cookbook suggests trying it with zucchini, though. I don’t like zucchini well enough to try that, but if you have an abundance the flavor is very nice.
I don’t have full illustrations for the hard part of this, which is judging how to cut and stuff the plantains and how much stuffing to use. We were caught up in a kitchen whirlwind of menu execution by that point in the evening, but this gives me a reason to pick up the right ingredients and do this again soon. I’ll update the photos and take out this note when I get that done.
If the images below don’t show, you can view photos on my flickr stream here
|Ingredients Gathered||Measured Ingredients|
|Reading for Stuffing||Dinner Plate|