Plantains are members of the banana family: like a cranky uncle, they are not much fun till you soften them up and then they are actually quite nice. They look like bananas but are low in sugar and not recommended to be eaten raw. A tropical vegetable/fruit, they are quite commonly used in South Indian, Central African and Caribbean cooking (TIP: look for countries around the tropics and there is a good chance plantains are a part of their diet). Since they are quite starchy, they are used like potatoes are in recipes. For example, plantain chips (kind of like potato chips or crisps as they are called in the UK) are equally common in South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean – I have had some in India, Jamaica and the Philippines.
I like plantains and I like reuse of recipe techniques. The masala in the Kadala Curry was interesting. Given that in Indian cooking plantains are mostly used in South Indian cooking, I repurposed the masala for plantains. Since I was winging it, I really did not note down the exact proportions but here is the general sense of what I did. It turned out well and would make a nice accompaniment to an Indian meal once you have a dal or a curry of your choice to go with it.
Step 1 – Cut two plantains half lengthwise and boiled them in water for about 10 mins till they are cooked.
Step 2 – Peeled and cut the plantain into bite sized pieces.
Step 3 – Made the masala below
Dry roast and grind to make a powder of the ingredients below
- 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 dry red chili
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
- 4 Tbsp grated coconut
Step 4 – Heated oil in a pan, added some curry leaves, asafetida (hing), mustard seeds, chana dal and a dry red chili. Cooked this on high heat till the mustard seeds sputtered.
Step 5 – Added plantains, some turmeric, red chili powder and salt to taste
Step 6 – Added the dry ground masala and pan fried the whole concoction for a few minutes.
NOTE: Since I was using less oil, I ended up adding a bit of water to cook the rawness of the spices. I made sure that all the water had evaporated so the dish is completely dry at the end.