Saturday, November 06, 2010
There are days when even the most enthusiastic cook craves the simplest of foods. Foods that are utterly easy and incredibly fast to make and yet taste divinely delicious.
Starchy veggies like potatoes and plantains hold immense potential for the time-strapped cook. They taste amazing and are very versatile. Most of us know that about potatoes which we mash, bake, fry, boil, saute, blend and grate all around the world into bogglingly delicious dishes. But plantains, fairly common now in supermarkets, continue to be perceived as these rather exotic entities that not many among us honestly know what on earth to do with. Which is rather strange, really, when you consider the fact that bananas -- also a kind of plantain-- are the most consumed product in the world.
The plantain used for cooking is, of course, a hardier, usually larger, sibling of the yellow banana. For most cooking, you want to buy it raw, which means the skin has to be green. Ripe plantains are super-delicious and are great in sweets, and you can cook some savory dishes with them as well, but for the dish I am sharing today be sure to buy the raw, green variety.
I came up with this dish because I found a huge bag of plantains at the supermarket for under two dollars, and loving plantains as much as I do I didn't want to let go of what looked like a great bargain. But I didn't have a ton of time to spend sauteing them as I usually do, so I decided instead to roast them and let the oven do all the work.
Plantains are great for roasting because the natural sugars in them caramelize easily, giving them a beautiful, shiny, golden, crispy coating in almost no time at all. You can try mixing all kinds of spices in this depending on how easy or exotic you want your dish to be. All I did was sprinkle it with some adobo seasoning out of a bottle, a pinch of cayenne and some garlic powder. I can't think of the last time I made a dish that was so easy but so good-looking and ravishingly delicious.
Golden Roasted Plantains
(Makes two really hearty servings or four good-sized ones)
2 large plantains, peeled and cut crosswise about 2 mm thick. To peel the plantains, I cut them in half, then make an incision with the tip of my knife all the way down the length of each half. Just pull back the skin along the length of the incision and it should just roll right off.
1 tsp adobo seasoning (use salt if you don't have this)
1/4 -- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, like paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp olive oil
Place the plantain pieces in a baking dish, then add the remaining ingredients and toss together.
Arrange the pieces on the baking sheet in a single layer
Bake 20 minutes in a 400-degree oven, flipping the pieces over halfway through the baking to get a nice, golden crunch on each side.
Garnish with some fresh, chopped coriander leaves.
Rally to Restore Sanity
I did not have a chance to share earlier our photographs from the incredible Rally to Restore Sanity here in DC but as they say, better late than never. The rally was an amazing experience and estimates are that nearly a quarter-million people attended it. At the metro stop closest to my house, there were lines around 50-people deep at each of the farecard-vending machines-- amazing, considering that I have never before actually seen a line to buy farecards at this Metro stop in all the years we've lived here.
Getting into a train was like a reminder of rush hour in Bombay. When we did finally get to the National Mall, where the rally was being held, the crowds were so enormous that you were just carried around by a sea of bodies with no room to really determine where you were going.
Like most others at the rally we never actually got anywhere close to the dais to watch any of what was going on, but just being there and reading all those great signs people were holding was an experience unlike any other.
Enjoy the pictures!