Think about your childhood for a moment… If you were like most kids, there was always that meal you never liked to eat, despite it being healthy for you. Be it pumpkin, broccoli, peas or fish, there must have been something that you could not get down your throat. For me it was Matoke. I just found it absolutely unappealing, yet a month would not go by without my mum preparing it for us. With time, however, I really grew to like it and today it is one of my favourite Kenyan dishes.
One of my readers asked how she can prepare a meal without the use of spices and still make it tasty. My answer was simple: use the original source of the spice. For instance, instead of using ground garlic, use freshly pounded garlic cloves. I always cook with spices so I took this as a challenge and decided to make one of my favourite dishes, without spices. And let me tell you, it turned out better than I could have ever imagined.
From my heart to yours, I hope you enjoy this coconut milk stewed matoke as much as I did.
Matoke is what Kenyans call plantain. It is cooked differently across Africa. Some fry it, some roast it, Ugandans stew it together with powdered groundnuts, but in our home we stew it with coconut milk.
Cooking without spices can open you to a world of richer flavors, as I discovered. But also, cooking with spices offers quick access to ingredients you may find difficult getting in its original form. Unless it is by doctors advice, I believe spices are not bad for you. They just need to be taken in moderation, just like sugar, fats and everything else in life. Moderation is always key.
For this fantastic dish, here is what you will need:
10 thinly sliced plantain/matoke
2 cups of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
Finely chopped fresh coriander
Finely chopped rosemary
2 green bell pepper
4 grated tomatoes
1 finely chopped large onion
½ fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves.
One table spoon of vegetable oil
Peel the garlic cloves and crush them into a fine pulp. Cut the ginger and onion into into fine pieces. Put these three into a sufuria with your heated vegetable oil. Fry them until the onions become soft.
** Be careful not to burn the garlic as this will make your entire dish bitter.
Add your grated tomato and let it sauté for about 4 minutes. Then add your table spoon of soy sauce. The soy sauce makes the mixture richer, both in color and flavor. I always use it when I want my dish to have more depth.
Cover with a lid and on medium heat, allow the matoke to cook through.
Poke with a fork to see if they are almost done. When they are almost soft, add the rest of the coconut milk and the chopped bell pepper then let it boil until all of them are soft. Another indicator as to whether they will have cooked through is the change of color, from off-white to mustard yellow.
Believe me when I tell you that this is the tastiest, healthiest, richest matoke you will ever have. The warmth of the ginger goes so well with the depth of the soy sauce and these two are perfectly complimented by the nuttiness of the coconut milk.
Do try this and tell me what you think!
Till next time,
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