Raw plantains evoke memories of childhood days. Raw bananas hanging heavy on the tree; every part of the banana plant used in daily life. Nothing wasted.
Plantain vs. Green Banana vs. Yellow Banana??
Many people confuse plantains with bananas. Although they look a lot like green bananas and are a close relative, plantains are very different. They are starchy, not sweet, and they are used as a vegetable in many recipes, especially in Asia, Latin America and Africa. If you see plantains when they are overripe, they may have started to turn yellow or black. While a ripe banana makes a great, raw on-the-go-snack, plantains aren’t usually eaten raw because of the high starch content. Plantains are sold in the fresh produce section of the supermarket – Asian and Hispanic markets are sure places to find them. They usually resemble green bananas; ripe plantains may be black in color. Plantains are larger than bananas and they have thicker skins. They also have natural brown spots and rough areas.
Mature, yellow plantains can be peeled like typical yellow bananas; the pulp is softer than in immature, green fruit and some of the starch has been converted to sugar. They can be eaten raw, but are not as flavorful as yellow bananas, so are usually cooked. When mature, yellow plantains are fried, they tend to caramelize, turning a golden-brown color. They can also be boiled, baked, microwaved or grilled over charcoal, either peeled or unpeeled. Plantains are also dried and ground into flour. I have been recently seeing banana flour in stores like Whole Foods.
Green bananas — which can be thought of as in between yellow bananas and plantains — are also used in food preparation as starchy vegetables. When deciding if you want a yellow banana, a green banana and a plantain, remember this: they all taste different and have special uses.
In India, the southern states, especially Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu use plantains in their everyday cuisine. Wikipedia has some interesting facts of plantain usage all over the world.
My recipe today is traditionally made in Kerala and is called Kuruku Kaalan. Recently, I had the urge to eat it, after having feasted on it at several of my Malayali friends’ homes in the past. When I looked up the recipe online, it seemed very complex for the short amount of time I had on hand. So, here’s my own version of the curry. It came out really good tasting, so I urge you to try it out for yourself.
This curry tastes excellent with rice, quinoa or chapathis, served with a side of pickles. I like to eat it by itself, in order to experience the full flavor.
Plantains contain higher amounts of digestive-resistant starch than yellow bananas, which is important for optimal gut health. Best of all, since the starch in plantains is indigestible, resistant starches do not result in blood sugar spikes. In fact, research suggests resistant starches help improve insulin regulation, reducing your risk of insulin resistance. Resistant starches act as prebiotics, feeding healthy bacteria. Due to their slow fermentation, they won’t make you gassy. They also add significant bulk to your stools, and help you maintain regular bowel movements.
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Raw Plantain With Yogurt Curry
- 2 Pounds Raw Banana Plantains
- 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
- 1/4 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper Powder
- 4 Medium Dry Red Chili Vary by spice level
- 1 Sprig Curry Leaves
- 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt Or to taste
- 1/4 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds Methi Seeds
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 3 Medium Green Chili Pepper Vary by spice level
- 2 Tablespoons Coconut Grated
- 2 Cups Yogurt or Buttermilk
- Cut the tops and bottoms off the raw plantains and peel the outer skin off (the peels make great addition to your compost bin). Don’t worry if the plantains start to turn black. Cut into 1 inch cubes and set aside.
- To make the Masala: Dry roast the fenugreek seeds for 2 minutes on medium heat. Grind coconut, green chilies, cumin seeds, and fenugreek seeds with yogurt or buttermilk. Do not add water while grinding.
- Heat pan and add coconut oil. When hot, splutter mustard seeds, then add red chillies, curry leaves, and pepper powder. Sauté for a minute.
- Add the chopped raw banana pieces, add ¼ cup water (to prevent sticking to bottom), cover the pan and cook until plantain pieces are tender, but not mushy. About 5-7 minutes. Add turmeric and salt.
- Finally add the ground masala, stir well, reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 3- 4 minutes