Plantain is a major food staple in West and Central Africa (Cameroon & DR Congo), Central America, the Caribbean Islands and northern, coastal parts of South America (Colombia, Venezuela, etc.). Their attractiveness as food is that they fruit all year round, making them a reliable all-season staple food. In Nigeria plantain can be roasted known as boli, fried known as dodo or boiled while it is still green or unripe.
In Ikire, a town in Osun State, there is a special and unique way of preparing plantain chips. This is popularly called Dodo Ikire. Dodo Ikire is made from overripe plantain, chopped in small pieces, sprinkled with chili pepper and fried in boiling point palm oil. After frying it turns blackish. The fried plantain chips are then stuffed carefully into a special conically shaped woven basket of about 10 centimeters high. This special dodo can have a preservative quality that lasts up to two months without refrigeration.
In the Caribbean Islands, plantain is also a major staple food. They fry, bake, boil and eat them with any kind of meat or side dish for any occasion. There is hardly any person that is not familiar with plantains.
A plantain looks very similar to a banana, though they are from the same family, they are not at all the same. Plantains are usually quite a bit larger and thicker than bananas, with thicker skin as well. They also are eaten cooked, not raw, and they are more starchy than sweet. And if you find a black plantain in the store, that doesn’t mean it has gone bad. In fact, black plantains are among the sweetest there are. You’ll find peels that are green, yellow (both often spotted with black) and black, and you can eat them at any stage of ripeness
Chiquita, a U.S company has come up with a helpful labeling system to show you how to best prepare plantains depending on their color:
Yellow plantains are a bit sweeter and softer and can be grilled. Black plantains are the sweetest and softest and may be baked. Boiled unripe plantain is very filling because of all the starch retained in the unripened green fruit. Green or unripe plantains are very starchy like a potato, very rich in iron, and can be fried.
This recipe is incredibly simple to make:
Boiled Green Plantain
- Green plantains
- Milk (optional)
- Salt or other spices to taste (optional)
- Wash the plantains, and cut them into two or three pieces depending on their sizes
- Put the green plantains in a large pot and cover them with water.
- Add about 1 cup of milk (optional) to the water.
- Add a dash of salt, black pepper or any other spices you’d like to include.
- Boil for about 30 minutes. Then peel, slice, and enjoy!
- You can eat it with fish, meat or chicken sauce.
It may not look like much coming out of the pot, but it’s a great way to add an unexpected starch to a meal. They’re really nutritious and great for the body; because they have a very thick skin that is peeled and not eaten, one does not have to worry so much about them organic. Plantains are full of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C along with 4g of dietary fiber in each serving.