Sunday, 5 October 2008


Plantains……heard that they are the cousins of banana…..I partly agree with that cause they look almost the same. But when they come to taste and cooking methods, they are entirely different. Plantains are quite larger in size and the skin is even more yellow than the banana. And the flesh is yellow too. You can see few sliced plantains on top of the plantain cake. It doesn’t have the lovely aroma of our banana but has its own distinct smell. I thought of blogging about plantains because I feel that it is not common in Britain and I just want the readers of this blog to familiarize the readers with this amazing fruit. Many of them call plantain as banana but it is NOT.

Back in India (my home town) and in UAE (grew-up here) plantains are always readily available everywhere and my mom used to make some or the other snack out of it for evening tea or even morning breakfast. Here in my locality, plantains are only found in Asian stores and Greek/Turkish stores and the mega stores don’t sell them at all. What initiated me to blog about plantains is the Turkish grocer near our home. Whenever I go to the Turkish shops they always had very ripe plantains where the skin goes black and they always throw them out thinking that they are spoiled. A couple of times when I went there to get plantains, to my surprise, they asked me, “what do you do with these things?”. I told them they can be used to prepare lot of things. Then he asked me “Do they taste good?” I find those questions very funny and always bring a smile on my face when I think of it. Apart from that, what really triggered me to blog about plantains was the cooking competition program called Celebrity MasterChef program on the UKTVFOOD Channel. This is a program where the competitors pass through several test rounds to win the Celebrity Master Chef title. One of the rounds was to identify different kinds of foods provided to them. And there was this plantain. Among the four contestants in that round, two of them couldn’t answer that it was plantain. They told it was banana which really shocked me. Plantains are not bananas.

I think plantain is a very versatile fruit. It can be prepared into many delicacies and savouries at different stages throughout their life from raw till they are very ripe. Plantains are always available in our home and we always had something made from plantains. When plantains are raw and the skin is green, it can be used to prepare the famous ‘plantain chips’ which is seasoned with little turmeric and salt and fried in oil. They are really famous for their crunchiness and a different flavour. Plantain chips from Calicut were the ones we always bought on the way to UAE. That was the all time favourite. It can be used in curries and stir fries. In its raw form, it is also sun-dried and then powdered to make the best weaning food for babies without any additives. When it turns medium ripe, or to say when it just starts ripening, skin turns yellow but still the greens are visible near the stalks, then it is time to prepare another famous dish, Another all time favourite-‘kaayada’ or ‘Unnakkaya’. When it gets really ripe, u can also sauté them in clarified butter or ghee and sprinkle with sugar for that extra sweetness, or steam cook them with skin on etc. When it really ripens and the skin goes to almost black, bake them or make halwas. You can find the recipe for few plantains in my blog itself.

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