A Taste of Africa: Matoke - Plantain Stew

Mon, May 02, 2016 @ 09:45 AM

Getting to know Africa includes experiencing the vastly different - and yummy - expressions of each culture through food.

While this recipe is often quoted as originating in Uganda, we've encountered all sorts of variations, all over the place! No matter where it comes from, it is a simple, delicious and very appetite-satisfying dish. 

Matoke is a reference to plantain (sometimes known as plantain bananas). This dish can be prepared with or without the meat and beef broth.  It's equally tasty as a vegetarian dish.

Banane_plantain_de_la_RCA.jpg

 Source: Creative Commons, Labeled for Reuse

As with all our recipes, we often vary this dish. We've added carrots or sweet potatoes or yams, different types of peppers. Used vegetable broth instead of beef broth. Sometimes putting together a stew at our house involves tidying up the fridge. You know - "let's use this up" or "a bit of this and a bit of that". Experimentation with recipes is fun, in our opinion, and often creates a tasty result!

Matoke-Meat_Stew-Sukuma_Wiki.jpg

 Source: Creative Commons, Labeled for Reuse

When we think about it, the reason why this dish crops up all over Africa is likely because plantains are a staple crop in a large part of the continent.

We love sharing our family recipes with you but please remember you can search online and find lots of variations on this dish and other terrific African recipes.  An online recipe site we use over and over again is The Congo CookbookMy East Africa Journal is also a great source for recipes.  

afrolems.com - A food blog for Nigerian, African and Interational recipes is a great source. Visit them - they have a really nice selection of recipes and the instructions are laid out in a really easy to understand manner. 

AllRecipes and Food.com are also good resources.  Just a simple web search will turn up a wide variety of recipes for you to try.

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 to 12 plantains (the amount will vary according to the size of the plantain)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1 large sweet onion, rough chopped
  • Coriander (we just use a touch - about a quarter teaspoon - if you really like coriander you can add more)
  • A pinch of dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 hot pepper, chopped  (any kind or heat quotient you like!)
  • the juice of one lemon
  • Some canola oil (we use a canola/olive oil blend)
  • tomatoes (you can use canned plum tomatoes (roughly break them up with your fingers) or 4 or 5 fresh tomatoes - chopped)
  • 2 bell peppers - chopped (use any variety of bell pepper you like - we often use orange or yellow just because the colours are appetizing)
  • 4 garlic cloves (mash the garlic)
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef OR 1 pound of stewing beef (if you use stewing beef cut it up into manageable bite-size pieces)
  • 1.5 cups of beef or vegetable broth
INSTRUCTIONS
  • Peel the plantains and then cut them up into fairly large cubes. Sprinkle some lemon juice on them and put them to the side for now.
  • In a large frying pan heat up about 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil and then fry the pepper, the onions, the hot pepper and the garlic. Just saute them until they are tender but not soft and mushy. You want them to have some substance. The onions should be translucent but not caramelized.
  • Then add the meat (if you are using it). If using ground beef, chop it up in the pan with your spatula as you saute it. Keep sauteing and stirring the meat (ground or stewing beef) until it is done. When the meat is no longer pink, add the broth.
  • Bring the stew to a boil and then reduce the heat to a slow simmer.
  • Add the plantains and then cover your pot.
  • Continue to simmer over low heat until the plantains are tender and the meat is thoroughly cooked. Stir often to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom!

Because we really like the zip of citrus flavour, we serve this with some sliced lemon to squeeze over the bowl. This stew should be served piping hot. We prefer to make Matoke with stewing beef but the ground beef version is very good as well.

This stew pairs well with a variety of sides and breads. We often have it with a salad or coleslaw on the side. As for breads - whatever you enjoy! Just make sure you've got something to "sop up the bottom of the bowl" with.

Our family recipe serves four people with a good sized bowl of stew. Food.com has a good basic recipe for Matoke and you can also check out the calories and dietary analysis there as well.

Remember as well, that our recipe isn't totally authentic (we've sort of adapted it over the years). If you want a truly authentic recipe, just do an internet search and you'll turn up a wide variety to choose from.

Enjoy!  And please let us know how you enjoy this recipe and any creative culinary modifications you make. 

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Mustafa Salemwalla

Written by Mustafa Salemwalla

Mustafa hails from Tanzania and spent 30 years getting to know the magnificent continent of Africa. Hence his passion for African art, sculpture, fashion and empowerment of artisans.

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