Kelewele (recipe)

One of the things that I love about operating TriniGourmet is the wealth of knowledge and experiences that readers bring to the table. Whether it’s commenting on other’s questions left in posts, participating in the #caribbeancooks hashtag on Twitter, or contributing to my Facebook presence, I am always left inspired.

Case in point. Recently I asked fans of the Trinigourmet Facebook page, what was their favourite way to enjoy plantains. Many of you picked fried ripe (and green) as the method of choice, with boiled a rather distant second. One contribution however peaked my interest. It was by a rather consistent contributor who often shares culinary discoveries made on many travel. This time around she mentioned the African dish of Kelewele as her favourite plantain one, and suggested that I check it out.

Intrigued, I did some looking around. Working primarily from this recipe from the Congo Cookbook (an amazing resource for delicious African dishes!) I gathered some plantains one Friday afternoon and took the plunge!

So, what exactly is kelewele?

From Wikipedia:

Kelewele is a popular Ghanaian snack dish made from plantains. In English, they are called Hot Plantain Crisps. They are fried plantain chips, seasoned with spices. In Africa, kelewele are sold by street vendors. It is sometimes served with rice and stew, peanuts, and alone as a dessert or a snack. The plantain may be cut diagonally into chips or into cubes. Usually, ginger, cayenne pepper, and salt are the typical spices used to make kelewele. However, onions, anise, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and chili powder are also used as spices. The oil should be hot and the plantain shouldn’t be too soft, or it will absorb too much oil. [1] It is cooked until the sugar in the plantains caramelizes, with brown edges.

Final verdict. Amazing! If you like your fried plantain with sugar on top, you’ll love kelewele. The additional seasonings add an unfamiliar (to me) complexity (and heat) to the sweetness of the ripe plantains, while the caramelized edges recreate that familiar chewy crunch. If you can, allow the plantain to sit with the spices for 10-15 minutes, so that the flavour intensifies and permeates the plaintain as fully as possible. Again, the final result is so good! Kelewele is a traditional accompaniment to Red-Red, which I prepared and shared with you earlier. The two complement each other marvelously and I have always paired them since, as a result. I hope you enjoy it as much I do! 🙂