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Recipe #1: Spicy Plantains & Coconut Chutney

Posted Jul 20 2007 12:00am

A lot of people think plantains are the exclusive food domain/staple of Latin America. Wrong! Think again. Many other cultures, including India, feature plantains prominently in their cuisine. Here's an excellent recipe for spicy green plantains with coconut chutney. (Source:  by Neelam Batra.)

Spicy Green Plantains

1 tsp olive oil or melted ghee (clarified butter)
2 dried red chile peppers (such as chile de arbol), broken
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds (if you don't have black, yellow will do)
1/8 tsp ground asafoetida/hing (if you don't have this, garlic will do as a substitute)
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
2 large green plantains (which is about 1 lb.), peeled & cut into 1/2-inch pieces
(My note: I actually like to use the yellow plantains, which gives the dish a spicy-sweet taste.)
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 to 1 1/2 c. water, or as needed
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Instructions: Heat the oil (or ghee) in a large nonstick wok or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the red chile peppers, cumin, & mustard seeds; put mesh covered pan-cover on top. The spices should splutter upon contact with the hot oil, so lower the heat & cover the pan until the spluttering subsides. Quickly add, first the asafoetida & turmeric, then the plantains & salt, & cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the water, about 1/4 c. at a time, & cook, uncovered, until the plantain pieces are tender but not mushy. If, after the plantains are soft, you have too much liquid left in the pan, increase the heat to high & cook until it evaporates. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle the cilantro on top, & serve.


Green Chili & Coconut Chutney


1 c. shredded coconut (unsweetened)
2 serrano green chilis
1 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp minced cilantro
1 Tbsp plain yoghurt
1/2 c. water, or as needed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (black or yellow)
2 dried red chilies, roughly pounded & then chopped
4 fresh curry leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp tamarind pulp + 1 tsp boiling water (or if you don't have this, can substitute 1 tsp. tamarind juice/sauce)

Instructions: Boil water in a stovetop kettle. When water has boiled, pour 1 tsp into a glass custard dish & add 1 tsp. tamarind pulp. Let it stand for several minutes to soften. Place a small sieve over the dish & press the tamarind mixture through it. Discard the pulp/seeds. Place the tamarind liquid mixture into a blender/cuisinart.

In the blender/cuisinart, add the coconut, green chilies, ginger, lemon juice, cilantro, yoghurt, salt, & 1/2 c. of water & puree to a smooth paste.

In a small skillet, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, red chilies, & curry leaves. In less than 1 minute the mustard seeds will start to splutter. Remove from heat & pour over the coconut chutney in the processor/blender. Blend until smooth.

Serve 1/2 c. chutney as an accompaniment to spicy plantain dish (or other Indian dish like Idli -- a.k.a. rice patties, lentil "doughnuts," or saffron-infused basmati rice). Transfer remainder to a non-reactive container with a lid.


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