Baked plantains, served with ice cream, make a delicious dessert
Plantains, “potatoes of the air” or “cooking bananas” are the fruit of the Musa Paradisiaca, a type of banana plant. Plantains are bananas that are generally used for cooking, as contrasted with the soft, sweet banana varieties (which are sometimes called dessert bananas). They tend to be firmer and lower in sugar content than dessert bananas and are commonly used when green or under ripe and, therefore, starchy. They are grown as far North as Florida, the Caribbean, the Canary Islands, Madeira, Egypt, and southern Japan or Taiwan and as far South as KwaZulu-Natal and southern Brazil.
Plantains are recommended by doctors for patients whose potassium is low. One large plantain, about 9 inches in length, packs 602 mg of potassium and only carries 140 calories. It even has 2 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre. Plantains are rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, the full range of B vitamins (.07 mg of Thiamine, .15 mg of Riboflavin, .82 mg Niacin, vitamin B6), folic acid and vitamin C. Putting all of the nutritional figures together clearly shows the plantain is among the healthiest of fruits. It helps avoid anaemia, blood pressure, diabetes, depression, constipation and nervous disorders.
Plantains can be used for cooking at any stage of ripeness, and very ripe plantain can be eaten raw. As a plantain ripens, it becomes sweeter and its colour changes from green to yellow to black, like the banana. Green plantains are firm and starchy and resemble potatoes in flavour. Yellow plantains are softer and starchy but sweet. Extremely ripe plantains are black, with a softer, deep yellow pulp that is much sweeter than in the earlier stages of ripeness. Plantains in the yellow to black stages can be used in sweet dishes. Steam-cooked plantains are considered nutritious food for infants and the elderly. Ripe plantain is used as food for infants at weaning: it is mashed with a pinch of salt and is believed to be more easily digestible than ripe banana.
Now for a recipe.Baked Sweet Plantains
Ripe plantains: 4 nos.
Milk: 1 cup
Brown sugar: half cup
Margarine: 4 tbsp
Method: Peel the plantains and place them in a baking dish and pour milk and sugar over them. Spread 1 tbsp of margarine on each plantain. Bake at 400 degree C for half an hour. Alternatively, cut off the ends of unpeeled plantains and place them on a microwave safe plate. Place a paper or a towel on the plantains and microwave them for at least 8 minutes or till the skin opens. Peel them after they become cold and pour milk and sugar on top of them. Apply margarine on each of the plantains and microwave them for 12 minutes. After they are baked, cool them and serve with ice cream.