A plantain is a type of banana, but is much starchier. In Afrika, it’s usually cooked as part of the main meal as a side dish. It can also be prepared as dry chips which make for a delicious snack.
Plantains are a great source of magnesium, potassium, fiber, vitamin C, carbohydrates and they also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. They’re also vegan and gluten free.
Once mature, plantains can be eaten at any stage as they ripen. The greener they are, the less sweet they are. The darker they are, the sweeter they are… and the softer they are.
For making plantain chips, you need plantains that are slightly firm, so that you can slice them thin, with ease. One recipe I saw recommends soaking them in salty water prior to cooking, to ensure the salt penetrates deep within their flesh.
The chips can be prepared by deep frying or baking.
Slice your plantains as thinly as possible, using a mandolin if you have one. Quantity depends on how much you need.
Soak in salty water (optional)
Heat your cooking oil – some people use vegetable oil, some use red palm oil. It’s up to you really.
Try to let all excess water drain off the plantains before deep frying to help avoid the drama of hot oil and water meeting.
Deep fry until crispy. In order to ensure they are all dry and crispy, fry as few as possible at a go in order to avoid them sticking to one another.
Take them out and drain them of excess oil.
Allow them to cool then store them in an airtight container – or serve and eat.
If you’re baking them, pre-heat your oven to 176C, lightly coat your plantains in an oil of your choice, sprinkle salt over them (if you did not pre-soak) and place on a baking tray and let them bake until turning slightly golden brown at the edges.
*Sprinkle some hot chili powder on them at the end before they cool completely for a sweet and spicy treat.