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7 Reason Plantains Make the Perfect Side Dish

Everyone loves plantains. Also called cooking bananas or planti in Nigeria, plantains have a sweet almost sugary taste. Although they look like bananas, plantains are bigger, longer and have less sugar than bananas. They are also rich in carbohydrate and unlike bananas; they are eaten cooked.

Right here in Africa plantain sits comfortably on the top five staple foods for Africans. And when it comes down to making a side dish of yam, plantain or potato, plantain always emerges as the champion.

So why the great love for plantain? What makes it the most popular side dish for most African cuisines? Read on to find out!


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Plantains are tasty, especially the yellow ones. This is because they are moderately high in fructose content. But unlike it’s cousin banana, plantain is rich in starch which makes it a popular staple dish in Africa. Because of its sweet taste, plantain makes an excellent side dish for just about any food in Africa; Dodo, Bole, Epiti, porridge, Kelewele, or as a swallow for various soups.

Green unripe plantains are quite tasty, if prepared as porridge or fried into chips. Black overripe plantains are sweet and soft for making desserts such as bread and cakes. Black plantains are also used in preparing porridge beans.

Cooking Variety

Plantains can be cooked in lots of ways; fried, boiled, grilled, baked, mashed, dried and grounded into flour. Plantain flour can be used to make bread, pudding, cakes and of course as a delicious nutritious “swallow” that can be eaten with any type of soup.

Fried plantains, also known as Dodo or Kelewele, is a favorite side dish eaten alone, with fried eggs, with porridge beans and of course with Jollof rice. Ripe plantains are also excellent for plantain porridge. Ripe Plantains are also roasted or grilled to make Bole which is eaten with roasted fish and spicy palm oil stew.

Plantain moin moin, also known as Ukpo Egede or Epiti, is another tasty snack made from steamed plantain flour. And of course plantain chips are not only popular, they are also cheap, delicious and convenient!


plantains yellow

Apart from its taste, plantains are loaded with lots of vitamins and minerals, particularly potassium, magnesium, Vitamins A, C, B6 and Iron. Talk about tasty nutrition. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure, Vitamin A is good for the eyes, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, vitamin B6 helps improve brain and nerve function and iron is necessary for blood production.

No wonder plantain is widely recommended for the elderly, pregnant women, lactating mothers and children. Even the average African mum knows that a slice or two of plantain does a lot for her growing child. A quick nutritious meal for children is usually plantain porridge prepared with stock fish or dry fish, palm oil, cray fish and vegetables like basil leaves or pumpkin leaves.

Unripe plantain flour is fast becoming a substitute for garri and fufu, particularly for those living with diabetes. This is because plantains are less starchy than yams and easily digested.

Energy Booster – plantains are energy giving foods that are rich in carbohydrate. This quality makes them a favorite staple in Africa where people need instant refilling of depleted energy levels.

As we know, life in Africa may be a tad too hectic, which is why most staple foods in Africa are energy giving foods. Thankfully, plantains are not only energy giving but tasty. This is why plantain chips are a popular snack, next to sausage roll and roasted peanuts.

Quick to Prepare

Kelewele Ghana Spicy Fried Plantains

Unlike yams, potatoes, rice and cassava, plantains are relatively quick to prepare. For example, ripe plantains fry and roast faster than ripe yams and ripe potatoes. Ripe plantains also boil faster than yams, rice and beans.

Bole, which is roasted plantain is a common road side food sold in Nigeria. Ripe and unripe plantains are laid over open charcoal stoves and roasted. Apart from plantains, yams, potatoes, corn and native pear are also roasted on the open charcoal stove. In Lagos, Bole is usually eaten with palm oil, native pear or with groundnuts.

However, in Port Harcourt, Bole is eaten with roasted fish, spicy palm oil stew, onion slices and bitter herbs like utazi.

Easily Digested

Plantains are easily digested because they are loaded with fiber. Yams take time to chew, cassava goes through a lot of process to become edible, beans take time to cook and although rice is relatively easy to prepare, it doesn’t have as much preparation variety compare to plantain.

So plantains win! Even unripe plantains are loaded with fiber, making it a favorite food choice for those with digestive problems like ulcer. Also, it’s high fiber content not only improves digestibility but causes fullness and satiety which dampens the feeling of hunger.


Plantains are relatively affordable. In Nigeria, four fingers of plantain sell for about 200 naira, which is a lot. When compared to yams, plantains are quite affordable and this affordability makes them a favorite side dish in parties, restaurants, bukkas and road side shops.

Unlike yams which grow in certain parts of Nigeria, plantains are planted in most states in the country. Also, plantain is a perennial crop and requires less attention and care than yams and cassava. All these factors contribute to its affordability.

All the Goodness of Plantain

plantains pile

So there you have it, the seven reasons why plantains make the perfect side dish. Maybe you haven’t tried eating a plantain before, now is a good time to start, you don’t want to miss out on all the tasty goodness plantain has to offer. And you can also try the numerous preparation methods listed above. Eating fried plantain slices is a good way to start. How about preparing fried plantain slices with some vegetable sauce, stew or scrambled eggs?

What are your favorite plantain side dishes? Let us know about them in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you. Enjoy!