Last year, I accompanied my sister to Kampala, Uganda and I had the pleasure of eating one of their staple dishes – matoke with groundnut sauce. “Matoke” are a variety of green bananas, which cannot be eaten raw – they must be steamed or boiled for consumption. “Groundnut Sauce” is basically peanut sauce. Groundnuts are what Africans call peanuts. To make the matoke authentically, you must peel the bananas, wrap them up in banana leaves and steam for a couple hours over a “double boiler” setup. Meanwhile, the groundnuts are roasted, skinned and ground. The ground mixture is then added to a stockpot with water and brought to a boil, continuously stirring, until it is as thick as porridge. The authentic sauce is a pale brownish color and somewhat grainy.
In my easy version, I use a pre-made groundnut sauce that my sister gifted me after another of her trips to Kampala. So, it’s the real stuff only I didn’t have to break a sweat to make it. And guess what? If you can’t get the real stuff, go ahead and use your favorite jar of smooth peanut butter. The groundnut sauce looks exactly like store-bought peanut butter!
Also, instead of steaming, I simply boiled the bananas as you would when making mashed potatoes. The recipe uses 6 green bananas but I used half green bananas and half yellow (ripe) plantains to add a layer of sweetness and creaminess. This is not authentic but taste is such a personal thing so do as you please!
Here’s my ingredient board – Green Bananas, Plantains, Groundnut Sauce, Onion, Turmeric, Ground Cumin, Coriander Powder, Scotch Bonnet Chile (optional), Garlic and Lemons
Okay first things first, get some vegetable oil on your hands and get ready to peel your green bananas and plantains. There’s some slimy stuff that comes off the green banana when you peel it and if you don’t have greasy hands, you will not be able to get that gooey stuff from your fingers!
For the green bananas, I’ve found that its best to use a sharp knife and cut the top and bottom, stand it up on one end and peel downwards. For the plantain, use the same method of peeling as you would a regular eating banana. As you peel and cut them, dice them into about 1-2″ chunks. Plunge them in water and add the lemon juice for a few minutes. It helps clean more of the sticky stuff from the green bananas.
Rinse out the lemon water and fill a saucepan with water, salt it and add the green bananas and the plantain over medium heat. Boil for about 10 minutes or until soft.
While your bananas are coming to a boil, saute your onions and minced garlic in some vegetable oil. If you want a little heat, add the whole chilli to your oil – do not cut into the chilli unless you want to torture whoever will be eating this meal…
Add the turmeric, cumin and coriander and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove the chile before adding the groundnut sauce
Reduce heat to low and add the groundnut sauce. It will be stiff at first but as it heats up, it will spread out in the pan and become easier to stir. Should it get too thick, you can add a little hot water or veg stock to thin it out a little.
Here’s how my finished groundnut sauce looks like (think of this as gravy on mashed potatoes)
When done, the green bananas and plantain turn to a soft yellow. Drain the water and mash them. As you all know, fat makes everything better so I add a little glug of olive oil to help the process along. But that is not authentically Ugandan.
This is how your finished matoke should look…basically like mashed potatoes! I’ve found that the yellow plantain gives it a better texture than just using the green bananas. It helps give a different flavor profile to the finished dish – sweet and salty with a little heat in the back!
Get a heaping of it on a plate and ladle the groundnut sauce over the top. You can garnish your plate with some freshly chopped cilantro for some color and freshness! Enjoy!
Recipe for: Matoke with Groundnut Sauce