Plantain (musa sapientum) is commonly known as the cooking banana. Both plantains and bananas are important sources of carbohydrate. In West Africa, bananas are usually eaten ripe as a fruit. Cooked green plantain is one of the main staple foods in the Delta region of Nigeria. Cooked ripe plantain (dodo) is enjoyed throughout Nigeria.
Ripe bananas and plantain carbohydrate is mainly in the form of easily digestible sugars; unripe banana and plantain carbohydrate is mainly starch. Both fruits have very little protein, but contain valuable amounts of vitamins and minerals.
When purchasing plantain, buy green plantain which is plump, with firm juicy skins – bright green in colour. It will ripen within a few days. If the plantain is to be used immediately, then buy fingers which are bright yellow and firm. Do not store plantain in the fridge to ripen as the normal ripening processes will not take place.
To make roasted plantain, peeled ripe plantain is place under a grill or on a barbecue and turned to cook evenly. When it is easily pierced with a fork, it is ready to eat. Serve as a snack with peanuts, or as part of a simple cooked meal with the best grade palm oil, roast fish or a simple stew or sauce.
If boiling plantain, use green or mid-ripe plantain, depending on your taste. Scrape the outer surface slightly with a knife to smooth it. Then cut it into large pieces or leave whole. Boil in water containing sale and African Plate Cameroon pepper. Eat with any soup or stew. This is especially nice with pepper soups and fish stews. Alternatively, serve with palm oil and roast fish or meat.
To boil ripe plantain, peel the ripe plantain and cut each finger into 2 or 3 pieces. Cover the plantain with salted water. Boil for 15 minutes. Serve on its own or with bean stew or a leafy green vegetable stew. You could also try slicing it into pieces 1cm thick and boiling it for 5 minutes, then serving with butter and salt as a side dish with rice and a meat or fish stew.