During a recent visit from a friend of our family, I asked Jose about Puerto Rican cuisine and his favorite traditional recipes since I am always looking for new recipe ideas. He still has family in Puerto Rico and visits occasionally. From his childhood, his favorite recipe is Mofongo which is made with fried plantains and seasoned with garlic and pork cracklings (fried pork rinds) then mashed in a mortar and pestle, and shaped in a ball. It can be served at lunch or dinner as a side dish with rice and beans as well as with meat or shrimp. Sometimes it is eaten by itself as a snack.
Mofongo originated in the African countries close to the Gulf of Guinea and was brought to the Caribbean. Now it is popular in many Caribbean countries, including Cuba and the Dominican Republic. It has spread to New York City and other cities in the U.S. where large numbers of Puerto Ricans live.
Later, I was thinking about how to incorporate Indian spices or cooking techniques into the recipe for Mofongo. As I was looking through my recipes from Kerala, I realized that I had the perfect match! Kaya Podimas (Stir-fried Bananas), a specialty of Kerala, is also made out of green plantains, also called cooking bananas. It is boiled then mashed. All I had to do was merge the two flavors and techniques together!
The resulting recipe is called Mashed Plantains. As in the original Kerala recipe, the plantains are cut into small pieces then boiled with turmeric until tender. I mash my cooked plantains with my potato masher. Depending on your preference they can be coarsely or finely mashed.
While the plantains cook, I prepared the seasonings which include mustard seeds, urad dal, garlic, onion, sliced green chiles and curry leaves. After the seasonings are ready, I mix them into the mashed plantains along with grated and chopped coconut.
Mashed Plantains can be served like mashed potatoes or formed into a bowl over which a curry can be served. I like the contrast and visual impression it provides to my Goan Pork Vindaloo recipe when presented in a bowl shape.
As I write this post, I want to thank you for your continued interest in my recipes during this year. I look forward to sharing more unique flavors with you in the new year. Happy 2018!