Insane Plantain and rice

*sorry for the image – I forgot to photograph it before it was eaten, so it’s just this ‘step 1’ image for now!

What a  vegetable – my current obsession.  There are 8 in the cupboard.  This is what happens when one of the supermarkets in York starts stocking a new vegetable. Maybe it’s a fruit? Nevermind hey…

So, for those not in the know, a plantain looks a bit like a banana, but is bigger, not sweet, and needs cooking.  Selecting a good one is also counter intuitive – the browner and more ‘bad’ looking, the better – in this recipe, at least.  You are likely to get these at an asian/african/caribbean supermarket/greengrocers.  If you don’t know if you have one nearby, google it…a lot of people don’t use these shops as they aren’t familiar with what they offer – trust me, the rewards you will reap from being able to buy spices for reasonable prices, and different vegetables are worth the effort of seeking one out.

It’s an interesting thing to eat, and if you aren’t familiar with it, it will help you break away from the usual centrepiece of a meal (meat, fish, dairy, tofu, beans) and add something new to your cooking.  There are some very simple ways to cook it, such as slicing (2cm deep discs) and frying on both sides with a little salt and maybe some sesame seeds, boiling and mashing it (I haven’t done this, because it sounds DULL), roasting it, or my favourite, giving it full respect and putting it in a Caribbean style curry.

Ingredients (feeds 4)

Vegetable/sunflower/coconut/rapeseed oil
1 onion (red or white, sliced thinly in crescents)
1 red pepper (cut into thin strips)
1 green pepper (cut into thin strips)
1 scotch bonnet chilli (diced finely)
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
3 plantains (yellow-black)
Salt (to taste)
400g tin black beans (not black-eyed beans, but black beans)
200ml water
4 large tomatoes
3 tbsp fresh thyme
Juice of 1 lime

Brown basmati rice – I think one cup of dried feeds about 3/4 people.
Salt
Coconut powder if you have any.

Cost – Rebecca?

1.Your rice is going to take about 25 mins to cook if you do it in standard pack methods – I am leaving that to you, as if I start giving rice instructions, it will take a very long time due to my Persian rice rules…However, I will do a rice post soon. This first pint is simply, make sure you will have some rice to eat.  When I do it with this meal, I add coconut powder, so my rice is delicately coconutty.

2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Add the onions, peppers and chilli and fry gently until softened, but not brown. Stir so the don’t stick.

3. Add the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Stir the spices into the vegetables and allow everything to fry for a minute (again, without sticking or catching) and then tip it all into a bowl.

4. Peel the plantains and slice into rounds about 1cm thick. Add 1 tbsp oil to the frying pan, a sprinkling of salt and the plantains. Fry on a medium heat until they turn bright yellow and start to brown.  Keep the heat quite low, so as not to burn them. Fry them on both sides, so they go crispy.

5. Drain the black beans, rinse, then add to the frying pan.  Add the pepper and onion mix back in.  Add the water, and allow the mix to simmer for 8-10 minutes.

6. While it cooks, de-seed the tomatoes and chop into small chunks.

7. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the tomatoes, thyme, lime juice and extra salt to taste.

8. Serve with rice.  I also recommend putting some reggae on, and drinking a coconut/banana/pineapple/mango centred cocktail with this…or a nice juice.

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