Plantain a member of the genus Musa scientifically called as Musa paradisiacal is an herbaceous plant. The fruit that this plant produces is generally used for cooking when raw and when ripen is the soft sweet banana (sometimes referred as dessert banana).
There is no formal botanical distinction between the banana and plantain but is based purely on how the fruit is consumed. When the fruit is removed in the raw stage it is cooked as a vegetable and when removed after it ripens than eaten as a fruit. In United States, the word "banana" is sometimes used to describe other plantain varieties, and names may reflect local uses or characteristics of varieties: cooking plantain, banana plantain, beer banana, bocadillo plantain, etc.
Plantains are firmer and low in sugar content than dessert bananas. Bananas are most often eaten raw, while plantains tend to be cooked or otherwise processed, and are used either when green or unripe (and therefore starchy) or overripe (and therefore sweet).
Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world and are treated in much same way as potatoes which have a similar neutral flavor and texture when the unripe fruit is cooked by steaming, boiling or frying. Plantains can be cooked at any stage of ripeness and very ripe ones can be eaten raw.As the plantain ripens they become sweet and change its color from green to yellow to black.
Green plantains are firm and starchy just like the potatoes where as yellow plantains are softer and sweet. Steam-cooked plantains are considered a nutritious food for infants and the elderly. A ripe plantain is used as food for infants at weaning; it is mashed with a pinch of salt and is believed to be more easily digestible than ripe banana.
In the South Indian state of Kerala, the ripe yellow fruits of a local variety called Nendran are deep fried after dipping in a thin batter of gram flour. This is a staple breakfast in this region of India. The juice from peeling the plantain can stain clothing and hands, and it can be very difficult to remove.
Chips or Fritters is one of the most popular snacks made out of the plantains (raw or ripe). In the south-western Indian state of Kerala, plantains are grown in abundance and banana chips fried in coconut oil and sprinkled with salt is called the upperi or kaya varuthathu which is a popular snack. They are the important items in their famous vegetarian feast prepared during festive occasions called the Sadya. They are commonly called as the plantain chips which are made of green plantains.
Apart from India the plantain chips are also a popular treat in Jamaica, Ghana, Nigeria (where it is called ipekere by the Yorubas), and other countries such as Guatemala, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Belize, Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, Ecuador, Guyana, the United States and Peru.
They are also popular in other Caribbean communities. In the southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamilnadu, where banana plants are commonly grown, plantain chips are an industry. They are different types of plantain are made into chips. They are usually cut thick, fried in coconut oil and seasoned with salt and/or spices. In Tamilnadu, the ultra thin variety made from green plantains is common but not fried in coconut oil unlike in Kerala. These chips are typically seasoned with salt, chilli powder and asafoetida.
Apart from just the green plantains other parts of the plant are also used in various other ways like the Plantain flower is used to make a type of poriyal (dry curry) in Tamil Nadu and Thoran is made in Kerala with the end of the bunch (called "koompu" in Malayalam) and is considered to be highly nutritious.
After harvesting the fruit, the plantain plant is cut and layers are peeled like an onion to get a cylinder shaped soft shoot called as the plantain shoot. In the south India like Kerala and Tamil Nadu, plantain shoot is chopped into fine pieces and made as a salad or a dry curry (often seasoned with coconut and green chillies), or as a wet curry (with yogurt, red chillies and coconut).
Lastly the plantains leaves are also considered very important. Plantain leaves almost can exceed two meters in length. According to south Indian tradition it is a ritual to eat food or entire meal served on a plantain leaf with the position of the different food items on the leaf having an importance. They also have a religious significance in many Hindu rituals. They add a subtle and aroma to the dish. Plantain leaves are also used in making karimeen pollichathu (fish along with spices wrapped in plantain leaf and steam cooked) in Kerala and Kolkata.
Plantains are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also good sources of vitamins, minerals and potassium and rich in vitamin C. To discover and refresh yourself culinary skills, here are some of my favourite plantain recipes that you’ll also like to prepare. Do try and enjoy its exotic taste and flavours.
Fish and Chutney in Banana Leaves – Patra ni Macchi Mildly spiced coated fish steam cooked in banana leaves. This dish is a very popular delicacy food from the Bengali cuisine.Highly flavourful and tasty but one must like the flavour of mustard seasoning.
Plantain Podimas Valakkai Podimas or Plantian podimas is a very simple and healthy recipe prepared with raw bananas. Instead of always preparing Vazhakkai curry or roast, you can try this simple recipe for a change as it does not require much oil or ingredients and can be prepared very quickly. It also tastes very delicious as a side dish with rasam and sambar rice.
Spicy Raw Plantain Fritters Plantain cut into slices and dipped in besan batter same like pakora and deep fried. This can be served as hot snacks in cold weather especially in south India you can find this fritters in every marriage.
Raw Banana Palya This is an awesome south Indian side dish made with chunks of raw banana cooked in a mildly spiced masala paste made with fresh coconut and green chillies. Normally raw banana or green plantain is cooked spicy but this palya gives you a sweet and spicy taste. It is generally served with rice, sambar, rasam, curd etc.
Avial Avial is a dish that has a unique place in typical Kerala as well as Tamil cuisine and Udupi cuisine. It is a thick mixture of vegetables, curd and coconut, seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. Avial is considered an essential part of the Sadya, the Keralian vegetarian feast.
Raw Banana Salan This raw banana boiled and cooked in peanut, sesame seeds and coconut gravy and is a must with all kinds of Biryanis, rotis etc.
Stuffed Banana Peppers Stuffed banana peppers seem to be on every Italian restaurant’s menu in western Pennsylvania. It is a quintessential appetizer for the local establishments selling homemade Italian style food.
Banana Muffin Banana Muffins are a delightful combination of mashed bananas with ground cinnamon and chopped nuts. As a snack or with a meal, these moist muffins go over great with the kids.
Banana Bread Banana bread is a type of bread that is made with mashed fully ripe bananas. It is often a moist, sweet, cake-like quick bread; however, there are some banana bread recipes that are traditional-style yeast breads. Banana bread is a breakfast dish or dessert made with ripened bananas, all purpose flour, baking powder and other ingredients. Banana bread is a oven baked bread or cake, moistened and flavoured with bananas.
Banana Dosai Banana dosai is a sweet crepe/ Indian dosa made with ripe bananas, rice flour, all purpose flour and a little of milk, flavoured with cardamom powder.
Chinese Toffee Bananas Toffee banana is a classic Chinese dessert. Slices of banana are battered and deep-fried, then coated with caramel but this is very careful process because the stage of sugar caramel is won’t be for longer it make the dish deliciously and crisp. You could also try this recipe with other fruit, such as apple or pineapple and have it with ice cream. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maJCSjmjk6A
I am sure you all must be enthralled in preparing these exotic and yummy plantain recipes and delight your family and friends with joy.
If at all I have not mentioned any of your favourite recipes then you could always click on at: https://www.vahrehvah.com
Enjoy Cooking! Keep Smiling…