Easy to Make: Dunkin' Plantain Balls (Kaaklo)
Do you get thrown off by seeing overripe banana or plantain which you totally forgot to use during the week? Life can get so busy that you can miss out on your vegetables and tubers slowing ripening away.
But don’t just throw away those beautiful darkened soft plantains which may not look their prettiest yellow best! They are in the perfect mint condition for making Kaaklo, a deep fried mashed plantain ball. Kaaklo is a traditional accompaniment to many Ghanaian dishes. It’s often part of several main dishes such as Red Red(cooked beans) or Aboboi (boiled Bambara beans ). It is also a common street food sold on its own and eaten with peanuts. If you want to go wild, you can add it to any rice dish (perhaps Jollof? )
How to make Kaaklo can be in two ways; the easy way or the HARD way. What is the difference? Well the easy way would be to take all the ingredients and throw them into a food processor and quickly fry OR go through the process of using traditional Ghanaian cooking utensils for a more flavorful food journey.
As a lover of traditional food utensils I went the HARD way for a more rewarding food experience. If you have the traditional pestle and mortar, why not take it out for a ride? Thankfully my late Grandma had bought a mini-version of the pestle and mortar which proved extremely useful for the times when there was less spices to pound. She had a food processor alright but like you know it never gives the same taste.
Get to know how to make Kaaklo by following these steps:
· Overripe Plantain
· Grated Ginger (3 piences)
· 1 small-sized Onion (chopped)
· Dried Paprika (6 fingers)
· Peppercorns (5 pieces)
· Palm oil
· ne Tsp salt
1. Peel the aging skin off the plantain and pound in mortar. Enjoy the squishing sounds emitting from the mortar.
2. Add in the dried paprika and peppercorns . You can however grind these two spices before to reduce the amount of pounding time. To make it easier for grinding, soak both spices in water a few minutes before starting out and grind them in an Asanka. I preferred adding it in whole for a higher infusion of the pepper.
. Add the onion and ginger and continue pounding. By now the mixture would be a lovely speckled almost-orange color.
4. Scoop mixture out of the mortar into a bowl and add in flour. Mix the flour well into it to bind all the ingredients together and also to ensure the mixture doesn’t fall apart in the oil.
5. Add a dash of salt
6. Pour in about half-a-cupful of palm oil into a deep saucepan or frying pan and place this on the fire. As you will be deep-frying you want to make absolutely sure that the ball is well covered in the oil. Also this depends on the size of the plantain balls you are hoping to make.
7. Using a spoon, scoop a bit of the mixture and drop it in the oil to test the hold. If it doesn’t fall apart, then you are in business! If it does, add a little more flour and you are good to go.
8. To test if its cooked, use a toothpick to pierce through the center of the ball. If it comes out smooth with very little stickiness then that is fine. Also the outside must be browned not blackened.
8. Fry the remaining mixture which should give you enough to feed three people.
And that is it! It was absolutely delish! The flavor of the dried paprika bonds nicely with the ginger, peppercorns and onions! These together makes a perfect Kaaklo meal.
The extra-plus here is; you have not only reduced food waste ( you know you would have chucked out the plantain) but you have also reduced your household budget on spending more at the market. The plantain peelings also makes a great ingredient for a homemade garden compost for your backyard garden! Rad!