Green bananas cooked in a traditional roasted peanut sauce with palm oil, fresh spices, smoked fish and crayfish.
There is something special about reinventing recipes that our parents, grandparents and sometimes great grandparents enjoyed. Sometimes, when we do this , I notice how the ingredient list seems to get a little longer each time. I am one who enjoys taking traditional recipes, deconstructing it and making it my own. That’s the fun in cooking. There is no reason why I’ll have every ingredients for a particular recipe except for one; and run to the store. No no no no, there has to be a substitute item somewhere in the pantry. Unless I’m missing the main protein, there should be a substitute item somewhere. Especially when it comes to spices. I keep repeating myself, I know. It’s a not so subtle way of telling you, there is an option if you can’t find the ingredients for this recipe.
Remember my little chat about reinventing recipes? This is one I told myself, let it be Elsie. Simply delicious. While enjoying this warm bowl, I hear my husband say “This is traditional”. That is exactly what I was going for. Traditional. Omit the add-ons, take yourself back to the village. Where all you have is palm oil, crayfish and two or three other spices to work with. Our Grandparents are the real deal! You know it , I know it. Their dishes speak for themselves. So despite my excitement about putting my own twist here at afrovitalityeats, sometimes I enjoy the simple ways of our parents.
Some may confuse plantains and bananas but they are actually quite easy to differentiate. Plantains are obviously bigger in size, have a thicker skin and should be cooked. You want green bananas for this dish. These are from a local Asian store. You may also be able to find these at a Mexican grocery. Hint: if you’re looking to buy plantains, try to get it at an Asian or Mexican store too. You will be amazed at how expensive it is at other stores.
This can be found at an African grocery store or you can actually get this from amazon. Another ingredient that makes our dishes uniquely African. Its added to soups, stews, pilafs and more. Years ago when I just moved here, the only place I could find these were at an African store. Or when someone brings it after a visit to Africa. Now Amazon got you covered.
Palm oil is becoming a little more popular despite the bad rep its getting. We’ve always cooked with palm oil. It comes from the fleshy part of the palm nut. The kennel under the hard shell is also edible and is often roasted to make what we call “manyanga” Manyanga was my grandma’s remedy to “IT”. IT being, dry skin, flaky scalp, massage oil you name it. Oh you have a cough? Here’s some raw honey and Manyanga! It works! Bless her heart. You can find palm oil in some grocery stores but try an African grocery store.
With those key ingredients you are good to go. Any smoked fish works. If you smoke your own fish keep the seasoning to just salt and pepper. Again, simple and traditional is what we’re going for. Smoked mackerel or smoked barracuda are great options. You can also enjoy this dish with beef if you don’t care for smoked fish. It will be best smoked for that authentic traditional flavor.
I really to enjoy the smell of peanuts roasting in the oven. So I prefer to do that , but you are welcome to use peanut butter. Traditional Cameroon Topsi banana. Try something new and share with others. Taste global cuisine from the comfort of your own home. We all travel the world in different ways.