Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Plantains with Coconut Milk (Banana Stew)

Banana Stew

When I traveled to India, my paternal grandmother, Amachi, always served plantains as a mid-day snack. By late afternoon, everyone would gather in the dining room for a dose of milky tea generously sweetened with raw sugar. A steel platter sat in the middle of the table stacked with steamed plantains. Each one had been sliced in half. Peeling back their blackish-yellow jackets set off a stream of steam and revealed the fruit’s saffron-colored flesh.  

Slice bananas

The plantains were as local as it gets having been plucked from plants in Amachi’s yard. They offered a sweet complexity in every bite and had a heartier texture than the wide variety of bananas we consumed over the course of our stay. We were treated with chunks of fresh jackfruit, tender coconuts, juicy mangoes, and plump papayas all the while. But they never gave me the comfort of Amachi's steamed plantains.

Sprinkle sugar over plantains
Add cardamom

It's been 20 plus years since Amachi passed away, and yet, whenever I bite into a perfectly cooked ripe plantain, I picture her moving about in the kitchen.  

Cook plantains with coconut milk 


Serves 2

Banana Stew and banana chips are both made with plantains not bananas. Don’t ask me to explain why that isn’t spelled out! What I can tell you is that this delicately flavored dish makes for a lovely, filling breakfast or dessert, particularly if you’re a fan of plantains, coconut, and/or cardamom. My suggestion? Cook some up and dig right in.


2 medium ripe plantains
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch salt
1/2 cup coconut milk


Slice the plantains into 1/2-inch discs. 

Place in a sauté pan. Add the butter, water, sugar, vanilla, cardamom, salt, and coconut milk. Stir.

Heat over medium-low heat. 

Cook, stirring occasionally until the plantains are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.

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