A green plantain is very firm, starchy and has a green skin. It should be cooked and prepared in the same manner as potatoes. When the skin is yellow and the flesh is still firm, the plantain is a little sweeter, but still very starchy. It's only when the plantain's skin is blackish brown and the fruit very ripe, yellow and soft that this banana is ready and sweet enough to be used in the preparation of desserts. It's sweetness is due to the fact that during the ripening process a plantain's starch transforms itself into sugar...
Plantains are rich in carbohydrates and potassium. They are normally eaten as a starchy staple nutrient and very much like potatoes they can be served fried, steamed, boiled, mashed, stewed, baked and grilled. In certain places, they are even fermented to make a kind of alcohol.
They are a major food crop in developping countries and can be found in many different places. But, although plantains are widely used and grown in tropical Africa, the Caribbean, Central and in South America as well as in other tropical regions of the world, they are native of the Southeast Asia and the nearby islands (India, Indonesia and Malaysia till Australia). There are many possible explainations to how they arrived in Africa: either they were brought by the Malay-Polynesian people who settled in Madagascar, either by the Arab traders or the Indian traders who settled on the East-African coast. They also surely got exported by the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors who colonized the Americas...
-Various stages of ripeness: very ripe, semi-ripe, green.-Ingredients:
2 Very ripe plantains, peeled and cut in slices
2 Oranges, pressed
8 Tsp Light runny honey
4 Tsp Brown rum
2/3 Tsp Ground cinnamon
1. In a baking dish, arrange the plantain slices.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients.
3. Pour over the plantain slices.
4. Bake at 180°C (350°) for 30-35 minutes until the slices look well caramelized.
5. Let cool or serve warm.
Ripe plantains have a black skin. If your plantain is still green or yellow, you'll have to wait.
While baking the plantains, don't be afraid to regularly wet the plantain slices with the juice in which they are cooking.
Eat while still warm or at room temperature with some whipped cream (if desired). You can also sprinkle them with grated coconut if you want a more "exotic" touch...
(Plantains -Pic by http://elissa.typepad.com)
(Isla Ometepe -Pic ba Peter Sch www.trekearth.com)