Groovy Plantain & Coconut Curry

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In our neck of London, almost every other shop near our house sells plantains. I never really considered using them before other than to make plantain chips, until a couple of years ago when a friend of mine lent me one of her auntie’s recipe books. Some dishes I tried did not turn out as anticipated, others were amazing and my absolute favourite one was a spicy plantain recipe. The use of plantain in a curry has stuck with me since and now even the kids love this mild version. The first time I made it, I told my 4 year-old it was “banana curry” and he was like “woah, that’s amazing. I’m going to eat it all” (and he did!).

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The plantains in this dish act a bit like potato so make sure you use the greeny-yellow ones and not the yellowy-black ones otherwise you’ll end up with sweet mush (although this is actually quite appealing to very little tastebuds, so just reduce cooking time if going for the very ripe variety!)

This is a really mild and delicately flavoured dish, which is great for little taste buds but if you’re making this for adults and older children as well, you might want to add some diced red chilli pepper during the cooking phase to lift the flavour a bit!

If you don’t have plantains, bananas are NOT a great substitute, FYI… sweet potato is probably your best alternative!

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Ingredients

2 tbps rapeseed/ coconut oil
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
3 medium plantains (still slightly green, but mostly yellow)
1 onion, finely diced in a food processor
1 large red bell pepper, finely diced in a food processor
100g yellow split lentils
1 x 400ml can coconut milk (full fat)
400mls no/low-salt stock
1 red chilli pepper, diced (optional, for the adult portions!)
Juice of 1/2 freshly Squeezed lime
1 tbsp desiccated/grated coconut
Handful fresh chopped coriander
large handful baby spinach leaves (optional)

Method

  1. Before starting, put the split yellow lentils in a bowl of cold water to rinse and set aside whilst following the next few steps…
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over a low heat
  3. Add the spices (cinnamon, cumin and garam) to the oil and heat for about 1 minute, stirring continuously
  4. Peel and slice the plantains into 1cm thick slices (these don’t peel easily like bananas, so peel using a knife to remove the skin!)
  5. Add plantain slices to the pan of oil and spices and fry on low heat for about 5 minutes, allowing all plantain chances to become fully coated
  6. Add the finely diced onion and red pepper to the pan and continue to fry for a few minutes
  7. Drain and rinse the lentils, then add along with the coconut milk, stock and chilli (if using) to the pan of plantains
  8. Cover and allow to simmer for 45-60 minutes, until plantains and lentils are soft, stirring occasionally to stop lentils catching on the bottom
  9. 10 minutes before end of cooking time, add the lime juice, desiccated coconut, chopped coriander and spinach (if using)
  10. Serve warm with rice, cous-cous or warm bread

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