There’s this time my Mom went to Uganda to visit my Aunt and she brought back loads of ‘bananas’ & peanut sauce. They looked pretty ripe but sort of felt hard and I remember thinking, maybe bananas from Uganda are like this. Then when Mom wasn’t looking, I took one, peeled it and took at bite. You should have seen the confusion all over my face.
I didn’t get it. Why were the ‘bananas’ looking ripe from outside but taste so raw? And they smell real good also. So I asked my Mom about it and she just laughed and said those are ‘Gonja’. They have to be cooked first. Then she went on to prepare them for us and I’ve been hooked since then.
From there I learnt that those two are cousins of some sort. Bananas & Plantains that is. They look alike but the obvious difference between the two is, plantains are longer than bananas and they have thicker skins. Plantains are members of the banana family alright but they are starchier and lower in sugar, which means that when they are ripe, they will still be green in color. If you get them when they are overripe, they may have started to turn yellow or black. While a banana makes a great, raw on-the-go-snack, plantains aren’t usually eaten raw because of the high starch content. Therefore, they have to be cooked. Mostly baked,grilled or fried. Another thing, plantains are safe for consumption when they’re in 3 different colours. When green,yellow or black. Whereas, you can consume a banana when it only yellow or green(matoke). When a banana turns black it has probably gone bad; very bad.
I have loved plantains since then. They really taste great. Unfortunately over the last year I never had plantains. I just couldn’t find it where I live. Then on some random trip to the supermarket I found them. There were only 4 pieces left. I took them all and as I was walking away, one of the attendants asked me, “What type of bananas are those? We’ve never seen them before and the people who’ve bought them say they’re not ripe therefore they’re not edible.” I just stood there thinking, “If only you knew what you are missing. ”
And I very simply explained to him what type of ‘bananas’ those were and how they are prepared. And I hope he’s tried cooking them.
One of the easiest ways of cooking plantains is by frying them. You can deep fry or shallow fry using the regular vegetable oil or coconut oil. Coconut oil gives it a lot more flavour.
Have you ever had plantains before? 😕