My Bengali mother always fed us plantain dishes to help us recover from any and all illnesses, be it the common cold or a broken foot. Her mantra was that full-of-nutrition plantains helped strengthen the body. Usually she served us a mild fish and plantain curry over steamed rice, but sometimes she would make these amazing plantain cakes—soft and spicy inside, crisp and golden outside.
Now that I have my own kitchen, I adapted these childhood favorites to suit my taste and health needs. Instead of deep-frying, I pan-fry. I cut the amount of hot peppers, and increased the herbs for flavor. I recently cooked up a batch for a family gathering and my Mom not only complimented me, but took seconds.
Sometimes I roll them into balls and serve them as vegetarian “meatballs." Other times I flatten them into cakes. Served with Asian sweet chili sauce, tamarind chutney, ketchup or a yogurt sauce, they’re addictive. —Rashda Khan
extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan (or you can use vegetable oil for the cooking)
salt, plus more to taste
finely minced ginger
diced red onions
chopped herbs (I like a mix of cilantro, parsley, and mint)
jalapeño or serrano, thinly sliced (if you’d like to reduce the heat, remove ribs and seeds)
In This Recipe
Cut off the ends of the plantains. Halve them through the middle, widthwise, so you have four pieces (each about the size of the potato).
Boil the plantain and the potato until soft. Remove from water, let cool and then peel.
In a large bowl, mash the plantain and potatoes together. (It’ll be a bit lumpy). Add the spices, oil, and salt. Mix some more to resemble mashed potatoes. Fold in the ginger, onion, herbs, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Roll into balls and press down to form cakes if you like. Arrange all on a plate, ready for frying.
Heat about 2 teaspoons of oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the cakes in batches, until golden brown on both sides. When done, place the fried cakes on a paper towel lined plated.
Serve with your favorite dipping condiment. Enjoy!