Kelewele, Fried Spicy Sweet Plantain

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Usually confused for giant bananas, sweet plantains are a delicacy in Ghana and in much of West Africa. I particularly have a penchant for them. One popular way to eat them is to cut them up into slices and then fry them until they are a golden brown. A spicy variation of this recipe is called Kelewele.

Often sold by African street vendors, Kelewele are ripe plantain cubes, marinated with spices and fried in hot oil. While that’s a simple take on a basic recipe, some styles can get very fancy. Even so, like the standard fried plantain recipe, this one — in all its various styles — is easy to prepare and takes little time.

Preparation Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ripe plantains (yields 2-3 servings)
    • Ensure that the plantains are at the right degree of ripeness. If you want sweetness, select those plantains that are almost black or, in some cases, have a dull yellow color with patches of black. If you have less of a sweet tooth, select those plantains that show little to know blackening.
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon peeled grated fresh gingerroot
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Slice peeled plantain into pieces, each slice at about half an inch thick (you can cut them into irregular shapes if preferred)
  2. Grind together grated ginger root, pepper, and salt, then mix with water
  3. Marinate sliced plantains with the spice water
  4. Deep fry plantains in hot oil at 160 degrees C (266 F) until golden brown (turn them if you have to)
  5. When cooked, remove plantains and drain excess oil on absorbent paper; keep in warmed oven until all plantains are fried.
  6. Serve kelewele

As mentioned above, Kelewele can be eaten alone or with nuts as a dessert / snack, or can be served with rice and stew as part of a meal.