Fried plantains make a fantastic snack for kids and adults alike. They’re easy to prepare, the spiciness can be adjusted to taste, and the plantain slices are perfect finger food for little ones.
A tropical staple
I was first introduced to plantains on a trip to Costa Rica, where they are often served with a traditional dish of rice and beans called gallo pinto, or “spotted rooster.” Plantains are also very common in Latin American cuisine as a side dish or in soups.
The plantain and the banana are different versions of the same fruit — plantains are lower in sugar and higher in starch than bananas, and need to be cooked before being eaten. When green, the plantain tastes more starchy, but it becomes sweeter as it gets darker. I like to wait to cook plantains until they turn brown to black, when they’re softer and sweeter in taste.
Who needs plates?
My husband is from India, where plantains are also popular, particularly in south Indian cuisine. They’re often eaten with lemon rice or as part of a spicy curry and are sold in stores as a snack for train journeys.
It’s traditional in southern India to eat meals from big plantain leaves, especially during weddings and religious festivals. When my mother-in-law first came to visit my family in Scotland, she brought plantain leaves in her suitcase so she could cook for my family and serve the food on the leaves. It was such a treat, and made the meal very memorable. At my wedding in India, plantain leaves were also used for serving food — great for the cooks, since there were no plates to wash!
Packed with vitamins
The plantain is higher in nutritional value than the banana. It’s a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, contains a moderate amount of protein, and very little fat.
Plantains are a great alternative to potatoes or rice if you want to mix it up a little and try a different starch to accompany your dinner. Try seasoning them with almost any herbs or spices to create your own signature plantain chips!
- 2 medium plantains, peeled and sliced thinly
- 2 pinches of salt
- 1 tablespoon masala powder
- olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Combine the spices and salt.
- Coat plantain slices with the spice and salt mixture.
- Heat your electric wok or pan, add olive oil, and lightly fry plantains for 5 to 10 minutes until soft.