Lerato’s roasted plantain, skinny efo, moringa and smoked chicken
Growing up I was such a picky child, and although I was not crazy about junk food or sweets, I was not enthused with the idea of fruits and vegetables. As a young adult, my love for good food developed and I became conscious of the exciting flavours, textures and the vibrant colours of fruits and vegetables. This enthusiasm inspires me to create easy, healthy and flavourful recipes.
Food should be joyful; as a source of fun and nutrition (even chocolate has super nutritional values). But eating clean can sometimes seem so tedious and I am going to break that myth. I will be sharing my African Spring Clean Recipes that fit easily into our typical lifestyles, made with our favourite foods, a medley of fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables that will keep you nourished and satisfied.
Moringa also known as the ‘miracle plant’ will feature heavily in my recipes. This is a true superfood that exceeds the nutritional value of spinach. It is famous for its high levels of iron, essential minerals, antioxidants, vitamin c and much more. While writing this I was visiting Minna, in Niger State, and my mother’s moringa tree is a major inspiration for my spring clean recipes, as it is widely used for sumptuous soups in the North of the country. It is impossible not to appreciate this wonderful gift of nature, so I cooked and cooked. It would be rude not to!
In my recipe of the week, plantains play a major part in the double act. I am obsessed with plantain, Be it boiled, baked, fried, roasted, smashed or smoked…smoked plantain? Can we do that? If I am left to my own gourmand devices, I could fry plantain every day. To tempt myself away from the frying habit, l have created a recipe so full of goodness you will wonder why you haven’t eaten this all your life.
Roasted plantain known as ‘Boli’ or ‘Bole’ is a popular West African food and one of our favourite street foods in Nigeria. Try creating this tasty treat in your home and serve with my special ‘Skinny Efo’. Skinny, because this is a quick stir-fry with spinach, peppers and moringa leaves added to elevate the nutritional value of an already potent meal. There is no palm oil added to this, like in typical recipes for spinach sauces. Although I call it ‘Skinny’, this recipe is as sumptuous as it is clean. Now, let’s get cooking!
Cooking time: 60 – 90 minutes
Feeds: 2 hungry tummies
4 medium peeled plantains
1 tbs vegetable or olive oil
1 medium onion
2 medium tatashe / bell peppers
1 scotch bonnet
1 tbs of ground crayfish
1 tsp dry pepper
1 Knorr chicken cube
125g / 1cup of shredded smoked chicken
2-3 handful of efo tete / 130g bag of spinach
1 handful moringa leaves
1 medium spring onion
Salt to taste
- Cut the plantains lengthwise in order to speed up the cooking process. Place them on a rack and cook in the oven for up to 1 hour at 190°c / gas 5. You can also cook them under or on top of a grill depending on what device you have at home. Turn them over after 30 minutes to cook on the opposite side. After an hour, check for doneness and if the centre still appears uncooked, cook for a further 20 minutes, rotating sides as needed. I like my Boli slightly charred for that ‘street flavour’ – but my mum calls that ‘burnt’ so if you are like my mum, do reduce cooking time to suit your taste.
- When your plantain is ready you can start on your sauce because it is a quick and easy recipe. Chop the washed onion, peppers, and set aside. Put fire to your frying pan, wok or wide pot with the oil and add the onions, peppers, crayfish, dry pepper. Stir and leave to cook for a minute. Add the smoked chicken. It’s easy to pick up smoked chicken from your favourite supermarket, so don’t bother smoking it yourself if you aren’t a chef or smoked chicken seller. Stir and cook for another minute.
- Add the washed spinach and moringa leaves. I don’t usually chop my greens because I like them chunky, I don’t think it is necessary and it leaves too much washing up. But some recipes such as this require chopping the greens so they will sit nicely on the plantain. Finally add the spring onions and taste the sauce to check the salt level. Add salt if you need to, but remember we already used a stock cube and the smoked chicken is generously salted and seasoned. Stir, and on your third minute take this off the stove. No cheating! Cover to allow it to steam for a few minutes.
- Food is ready! Serve alongside the roasted plantain and enjoy.
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