Plantain Curry

Kwazulu Natal has a large Indian population and as a result there are plenty of South Indian-inspired dishes to season its diverse cooking styles. Affordable and plentiful, plantains are a staple food for many locals, and make a versatile curry that can be served as a side dish or snack. This recipe, inspired by my mother-in-law, Ambi Pillay, is lighter than most, because she steams the plantains before frying them with peppery curry leaves and popped mustard seeds. Deliciously tart, it’s particularly good served with spiced and pickled chillies and relishes.

Recipe courtesy of "Curry: Fragrant Dishes from India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia" by David Thompson, copyright 2006. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley Limited. All rights reserved.

Plantain Curry

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    4 plantains 1 1/4 in (3 cm) piece fresh root ginger, finely chopped
    3 tbsp vegetable oil 2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
    3/4 tsp mustard seeds Pinch of ground turmeric
    1/2 tsp cumin seeds 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
    1 onion, finely chopped Lemon juice, to sharpen


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    • 1

      Put the unpeeled plantains in a steamer basket set over a pan of simmering water. Steam for about 10 minutes – they should still be quite firm to the touch.

    • 2

      While the plantains are cooking, make the masala. Heat the oil in a karahi or wok and toss in the mustard seeds followed by the cumin seeds and curry leaves. As soon as the seeds pop and sizzle, tip in the onion, ginger and green chillies. Turn the heat down low, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onion is softened.

    • 3

      When the plantains are cool enough to handle, strip off the peel with a sharp knife and grate along their length so you have long coarse shreds. It’s best to do this just before you add them to the onion mixture because they discolour really quickly.

    • 4

      Add the turmeric to the masala while still on the heat and stir well to combine. Tip in the grated plantains and fry for a further 5–7 minutes, keeping an eye on them – you want them to keep some texture and bite. If it looks like it is sticking, add a dash of water.

    • 5

      Sprinkle with the chopped coriander, sharpen with a squeeze of lemon and serve with boiled rice.

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