Cooking plantain

This article is about bananas that are cooked. For the herbaceous plant, see plantago. For other uses, see plantain (disambiguation).

Plantains for sale
Genus Musa
Species Musa × paradisiaca
Hybrid parentage M. acuminata × M. balbisiana
Cultivar group Cultivars from a number of groups, including the AAA Group, the AAB Group and the ABB Group
Origin Primary: Southeast Asia, South Asia; secondary: West Africa

Plantains (/ˈplæntn/,[1][2] US /plænˈtn/,[3] UK /ˈplɑːntn/[1]) or cooking bananas,[4][5][6][7][8] are banana cultivars in the genus Musa whose fruits are generally used in cooking. Plantains may be eaten while ripe or unripe and starchy. They are sometimes also referred to as green bananas.[5]

The term "plantain" is loosely applied to any banana cultivar that are eaten when cooked. However, there is no formal botanical distinction between bananas and plantains. Cooking is also a matter of custom, rather than necessity. Ripe plantains can be eaten raw, since the starches are converted to sugars as they ripen. In some countries, there may be a clear distinction between plantains and bananas, but in other countries, where many more cultivars are consumed, the distinction is not made in the common names used.[9] In more formal usage, the term "plantain" is used only for "true" plantains, while other starchy cultivars also used for cooking are called "cooking bananas".[10][11][12]

All modern plantain cultivars have three sets of chromosomes (i.e. they are triploid). Many are hybrids derived from the cross of two wild species, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The currently accepted scientific name for all such crosses is Musa × paradisiaca.[13] Using Simmonds and Shepherds' (1955) genome-based nomenclature system,[14] cultivars which are cooked often belong to the AAB Group, although some (e.g. the East African Highland bananas) belong to the AAA Group, and others (e.g. Saba bananas) belong to the ABB Group.

Fe'i bananas (Musa × troglodytarum) from the Pacific Islands, are often eaten roasted or boiled, and are thus informally referred to as "mountain plantains." However, they do not belong to either of the two species that all modern cultivated banana cultivars descended from.[15][16]

All members of the genus Musa are indigenous to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and Oceania, including the Malay Archipelago (modern Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines) and Northern Australia.[17] Africa is considered a secondary centre of diversity of Musa cultivars: West Africa for true plantains and the central highlands for East African Highland bananas (Musa AAA-EAHB, also known as matooke or matoke in Uganda), most of which are cooked, although some are primarily used to produce beer.

Plantains are a major food staple in West and Central Africa, the Caribbean islands, Central America, and northern, coastal parts of South America. They are treated as a starchy fruit with a relatively neutral flavour and soft texture when cooked. As with all bananas, part of the attractiveness of plantains as food is that they fruit all year round, making them a reliable all-season staple food.


From left to right: plantain, red banana, apple banana, and Cavendish banana
Saba bananasMusa 'Saba' (ABB Group)

Plantains contain more starch and less sugar than dessert bananas, therefore they are usually cooked or otherwise processed before being eaten. They are always cooked or fried when eaten green. At this stage, the pulp is hard and the peel often so stiff that it has to be cut with a knife to be removed.

Mature, yellow plantains can be peeled like typical dessert bananas; the pulp is softer than in immature, green fruit and some of the starch has been converted to sugar. They can be eaten raw, but are not as flavourful as dessert bananas, so are usually cooked. When mature, yellow plantains are fried, they tend to caramelize, turning a golden-brown color. They can also be boiled, baked, microwaved or grilled over charcoal, either peeled or unpeeled.

Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world, ranking as the tenth most important staple food in the world. As a staple, plantains are treated in much the same way as potatoes and with a similar neutral flavour and texture when the unripe fruit is cooked by steaming, boiling or frying.

Since they fruit all year round, plantains are a reliable all-season staple food, particularly in developing countries with inadequate food storage, preservation and transportation technologies. In Africa, plantains and bananas provide more than 25 percent of the carbohydrate requirements for over 70 million people.[18] Musa spp. do not stand high winds well, however, so plantain plantations are liable to destruction by hurricanes.

An average plantain has about 220 calories and is a good source of potassium and dietary fiber.[19] The sap from the fruit peel, as well as the entire plant, can stain clothing and hands, and can be very difficult to remove.


Main article: Banana § Taxonomy

Linnaeus originally classified bananas into two species based only on their uses as food: Musa paradisiaca for plantains and Musa sapientum for dessert bananas. Both are now known to be hybrids between the species Musa acuminata (A genome) and Musa balbisiana (B genome). The earlier published name, Musa × paradisiaca, is now used as the scientific name for all such hybrids. Most modern plantains are sterile triploids belonging to the AAB Group, sometimes known as the "Plantain group". Other economically important cooking banana groups include the East African Highland bananas (Mutika/Lujugira subgroup) of the AAA Group and the Pacific plantains (including the Popoulo, Maoli, and Iholena subgroups), also of the AAB Group.[20]

Food preparations

Steamed, boiled, grilled, baked, or fried

Plantains served over fried pacu

In countries in Central America and the Caribbean, such as Dominica, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and Jamaica, the plantain is either simply fried, boiled or made into plantain soup. In Kerala, an Indian state, ripe plantain is steamed, a popular breakfast dish.

In Ghana of West Africa, boiled plantain is eaten with kontomire stew, cabbage stew or fante-fante (fish) stew. The boiled plantain can be mixed with groundnut paste, pepper, onion and palm oil to make eto, which is eaten with avocado. Ripe plantains, also called plaintiffs, can also be fried and eaten with black eyed beans cooked in palm oil – a popular breakfast dish. Kelewele, a Ghanaian snack, is spiced ripe plantain deep fried in palm oil or vegetable oil.

In Nigeria, plantain is eaten boiled, fried or roasted; boli – roasted plantain – is usually eaten with palm oil or groundnut. In Guatemala, ripe plantains are eaten boiled, fried, or in a special combination where they are boiled, mashed and then stuffed with sweetened black beans. Afterwards, they are deep fried in sunflower or corn oil. The dish is called rellenitos de plátano and is served as a dessert. In Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, it can also be mashed after it has been fried and be made a mofongo, or fried and made into tostones, tajadas, or platanutres, or it can be boiled or stuffed.


Plantains can be used for cooking at any stage of ripeness, but ripe ones can be eaten raw. As the plantain ripens, it becomes sweeter and its colour changes from green to yellow to black, just like bananas. Green plantains are firm and starchy, and resemble potatoes in flavour. Yellow plantains are softer and starchy yet sweet. Extremely ripe plantains have softer, deep yellow pulp that is much sweeter.

Plantains in the yellow to black stages of ripeness can be used in sweet dishes. Steam-cooked plantains are considered a nutritious food for infants and the elderly. A ripe plantain is used as food for infants at weaning, mashed with a pinch of salt.

Dried flour

Plantains are also dried and ground into flour; "banana meal" forms an important foodstuff with the following constituents: water, 10.62%; proteins, 3.55%; fat, 1.15%; carbohydrates, 81.67%; and ash, 3.01%. In southern India, dried plantain powder is mixed with a little bit of fennel seed powder and boiled in milk or water to make baby food to feed babies until they are one year old.


In Peru, plantains are boiled and blended with water, spices, and sugar to make chapo.


Main article: Banana chip

After removing the skin, the unripe fruit can be sliced thin and deep fried in hot oil to produce chips.

This thin preparation of plantain is known as tostones, patacones or plataninas in some of Central American and South American countries, platanutres in Puerto Rico, mariquitas or chicharritas in Cuba and chifles in Ecuador and Peru. In Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, tostones instead refers to thicker twice-fried patties (see below).

In Colombia they are known as platanitos and are eaten with suero atollabuey as a snack. Tostada refers to a green, unripe plantain which has been cut into sections, fried, flattened, fried again, and salted. These tostadas are often served as a side dish or a snack. They are also known as tostones or patacones in many Latin American countries.

In Cuba, plantain chips are called mariquitas. They are sliced thinly, and fried in oil until golden colored. They are popular appetizers served with a main dish.[21]

In Haiti, these slices are referred to as bannan fris. In Indonesia the banana chips are called kripik pisang. In Guyana and Ghana they are called "plantain chips". In Ecuador and Peru, they are called chifles.

Chips fried in coconut oil and sprinkled with salt, called upperi or kaya varuthathu, are a popular snack in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala.[22] They are an important item in sadya, a vegetarian feast prepared during festive occasions. The chips are typically labeled "plantain chips" when they are made of green plantains that taste starchy, like potato chips.

In the southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where banana plants are commonly grown, plantain chips are an industry.[22] In Kerala, different types of plantain are made into chips. They are usually cut thick, fried in coconut oil and seasoned with salt or spices. Sharkaravaratti is a variety of chips which is coated with jaggery, powdered ginger and cumin. In Tamil Nadu, a thin variety made from green plantains is common. Here, coconut oil is not used for frying, and the chips are seasoned with salt, chili powder and asafoetida.

In Honduras, they are called tajadas. If the chips are made from sweeter fruit, they are called banana chips. They can also be sliced vertically to create a variation known as plantain strips.

Plantain chips are also a popular treat in Cameroon, Togo, Jamaica, Ghana, Nigeria (where it is called ipekere by the Yorubas), and other countries such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, Ecuador, Guyana, India, the United States and Peru. They are also popular in other Caribbean communities.

In the western/central Indian language Marathi, the plantain is called rajeli kela (राजेळी केळ) (figuratively meaning "king-sized" banana), and it is often used to make fried chips.


Curries made out of plantain are popular throughout the world.[23] [24] [25] In Kerala, a sour, spicy and sweet curry known as pazham pachadi is made out of ripe bananas, coconut and curd. [26]


Plantain soups are consumed in various cuisines.

Plantain dishes

Ripe plantains are used for making maduros (also named amarillos) in Latin American cuisine, in contrast to Tostones which are made with starchy unripe plantains.[27]
Main article: List of banana dishes


Main article: Alcapurria

Alcapurria is a type of savory Puerto Rican fritter. Although usually consisting mainly of grated green bananas and yautias, they can also contain plantains. The masa (dough) is used to encase a filling of ground meat (picadillo), and the alcapurrias are then deep-fried.


Plantains are used in the Ivory Coast dish aloco as the main ingredient. Fried plantains are covered in an onion-tomato sauce, often with a grilled fish between the plantains and sauce.[28]


"Little spiders" in Spanish translation, a Puerto Rican pattie fritter made from grated unripe plantains mixed with cilantro, garlic, salt and some recipes with egg.

Ash plantains

Sri Lanka's ash plantains called alu kesel (අළු කෙසෙල්) are generally used for cooking. On some occasions, they are used in Ayurvedic medicine. Plantain flower also called as kesel mala (or kehelmala or kesel muwa). Plantain flower (or kehelmala or kesel muwa) is also used to make curries to be eaten with rice.

Banana cue, Turrón and Arroz a la Cubana

In the Philippines, Banana cue is a popular snack. The portmanteau 'Banana cue' may be a misnomer as it is not really cooked in a skewer over hot embers like a barbecue. Rather, the peeled flesh of an under ripe plantain is fried in hot oil over medium fire before it is held in a skewer ready for sale. There are two ways to prepare a banana cue. One way is to fry the peeled banana in oil with some amount of brown sugar thrown in to caramelize the flesh. Another way is to fry the flesh in oil until done. When done, they are scooped out of the cooking pan and placed on a dripping pan to allow the oil to drip, before a generous amount of refined sugar is sprinkled over them. A variant from Mindanao, known as Ginanggang, is different in that it is actually grilled over charcoal.

Philippine plantains (called Saba or Cardaba Bananas) are much smaller than the Latin American varieties, usually around 4–5 inches and somewhat boxy in shape. They are eaten mostly in their ripe stage as a dessert or sweet snack, often simply boiled, in syrup, or sliced lengthwise and fried, then sprinkled with sugar. They are also quite popular in this fried form (without the sugar) in the local version of the Spanish dish, Arroz a la Cubana, consisting of minced picadillo-style seasoned beef, white rice, and fried eggs, with fried plantains on the side. In addition, there is the equally popular merienda snack, Turrón, where ripe plantains are sliced and then wrapped in lumpia wrapper (a thin rice paper) and deep-fried. Turron is then finished off with a brown sugar glaze.

The traditional South American style large plantains (grown in the Southern Philippines) are now increasingly available in local Filipino markets.


Bolle is the term used for roasted plantain in Nigeria. The plantain is usually grilled and served with roasted fish, ground peanuts and a hot palm oil sauce. It is very popular as a lunch snack in southern and western Nigeria, for example in Rivers State, Cross River State, Delta State and Lagos State. It is popular among the working class as a quick midday meal.

Bolitas de Platano

Plantain dumplings from Puerto Rico. Green plantains are grated and mixed with cornstarch, egg, seasoning, parsley, and annatto oil. They are then formed into a ball about the size of a golf ball. The balls are first deep fried and then dropped into a hot broth usually a soup with pigeon peas and ham called asopao.


Main article: Cayeye

Cayeye, also called Mote de Guineo, is a traditional Colombian dish from the Caribbean Coast of the country. Cayeye is made by cooking small green bananas or plantains in water, then mashing and mixing them with refrito, made with onions, garlic, red bell pepper, tomato and achiote.

Cayeye are usually served for breakfast with fresh grated Colombian cheese (Queso Costeño) and fried fish, shrimp, crab, or beef. Most popular is Cayeye with fresh cheese, avocado and fried egg on top.


Main article: chifle

Chifles is the Spanish term used in Peru and Ecuador for fried green plantains sliced (1 or 2 mm thick); it is also used to describe plantain chips which are sliced thinner.


A road side stall in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso selling Dodo.

Plantain is popular in West Africa, especially Cameroon, Bénin, Ghana and Nigeria; when ripe plantain is fried, it is generally called dodo (dough – dough). The ripe plantain is usually sliced diagonally for a large oval shape, then fried in oil to a golden brown color. This can be eaten as such, with stew or served with beans or on rice.

In Ikire, a town in Western Nigeria precisely Osun State, there is a special and unique way of preparing plantain chips. This is popularly called Dodo Ikire. Dodo Ikire is made from overripe plantain, chopped in small pieces, sprinkled with chili pepper and fried in boiling point palm oil. After frying it turns blackish. The fried plantain chips are then stuffed carefully into a special conically shaped woven basket of about 10 centimeters high. This special dodo can have a preservative quality that lasts up to two months without refrigeration.

Ethakka appam

Pazham pori – a plantain dish from south India.

Ethakka appam, pazham (banana) boli or pazham pori are terms used for fried plantain in Kerala. The plantain is usually dipped in sweetened rice and white flour batter and then fried in coconut or vegetable oil. It is a very popular snack among Keralites. This is very similar to pisang goreng (Indonesian for fried bananas), which is a dessert common to Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Fufu de platano

Fufu de platano is a traditional and very popular lunch dish in Cuba, and essentially akin to the Puerto Rican mofongo. It is a fufu made by boiling the plantains in water and mashing with a fork. The fufu is then mixed with chicken stock and sofrito, a sauce made from lard, garlic, onions, pepper, tomato sauce, a touch of vinegar and cumin. The texture of Cuban fufu is similar to the mofongo consumed in Puerto Rico, but it is not formed into a ball. Fufu is also a common centuries-old traditional dish made in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and other West & Central African countries. It is made in a similar fashion as the Cuban fufu, but is pounded, and has a thick paste, putty-like texture which is then formed into a ball. West African fufu is sometimes separately made with cassava, yams or made with plantains combined with cassava.


Main article: Mangú (dish)

A traditional mangú from the Dominican Republic consists of peeled green, boiled plantains, mashed with enough hot water they were boiled in so the consistency is a little stiffer than mashed potatoes. It is traditionally eaten for breakfast, topped with sautéed onions and accompanied by fried eggs, fried cheese, fried salami, or avocado.


Matooke or Matoke is a plantain dish of the Baganda, which is now widely prepared in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and eastern Congo. The plantains are peeled, wrapped in the plant's leaves and set in a cooking pot (sufuria) on the stalks which have been removed from the leaves. The pot is then placed on a charcoal fire and the matoke is steamed for a couple of hours in water placed in the bottom of the cooking pot. While uncooked, the matoke is white and fairly hard. Cooking turns it soft and yellow. The matoke is then mashed while still wrapped in the leaves, and often is served on a fresh leaf, then eaten with a sauce made of vegetables, ground peanut or some type of meat (goat meat and beef are common).


Mofongo – a Puerto Rican dish made from fried green plantains.
Main article: Mofongo

Originating from Puerto Rico, and essentially akin to the Cuban fufu, mofongo is made by mashing fried plantains in a mortar with chicharrón or bacon, garlic, olive oil and stock. Any meat, fish, shellfish, vegetables, spices, or herbs can also be added. The resulting mixture is formed into cylinders the size of about two fists and eaten warm, usually with chicken broth.

Mofongo relleno means "topped with creole sauce" rather than served with chicken broth. Creole sauce may contain stewed beef, chicken or seafood poured in a center crater formed with the serving spoon.


Main article: Nagasari

Nagasari is a traditional steamed kue (Indonesian traditional cake) made from rice flour, coconut milk and sugar, filled with slices of banana.[29][30] It is usually wrapped in banana leaves before being steamed, or prepared with pandan that gives it aroma.[31] It is commonly eaten as a snack in Indonesia[32] where it is also known as kue bandang-bandang by Bugis people. Sometimes it is simply called as kue pisang (banana cake).


Piñon is traditional from Puerto Rico; similar to lasagne, it uses sweet plantains (amarillitos) to replace the pasta layers. A similar dish called Pastelon is made with layers of mashed plantains.


A popular Caribbean dish which originated in Puerto Rico is called Piononos, after Pope Pius IX, and is made of sweet plantain forming a ring stuffed with seasoned meat or seafood, with an egg and flour mixture covering both open sides of the ring and deep fried.

Pisang goreng

Main article: Pisang goreng

Pisang goreng (fried banana in Indonesian/Malay) is plantain snack deep fried in coconut oil. Pisang goreng could be coated in batter flour or fried without batter. It is a snack food mostly found throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.[33]

Plátanos maduros

After removing the skin, the ripened fruit (maduro) can be sliced (between 3 mm and 2 cm thick) and pan fried in oil until golden brown or according to preference. In the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras (where they are usually eaten with the native sour cream) and Venezuela, they are also eaten baked in the oven (sometimes with cinnamon). In Puerto Rico baked plátano maduros are usually eaten for breakfast and served with eggs (mainly an omelet with cheese), chorizo or bacon. Only salt is added to green plantains.

Plátanos maduros are a favorite in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador, Honduras, Panama, Peru, Colombia, Cuba, Suriname, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico (where they are called amarillos), Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and most of the English-speaking Caribbean (although just called plantain), Aruba, Nicaragua and in Venezuela. In Costa Rica, they are sprinkled with sugar. In western Nigeria, fried, sliced plantains are known as dodo, and in Cameroon, they are known as missole. In Venezuela, the ripe fruit is cut lengthwise, 3–4 mm thick, and fried until golden and sticky, as a very popular side dish called tajadas; they are an integral piece of the national dish, pabellon criollo. And in Ghana as well, it is used for fufu, chips, and many other food preparations.


In Honduras, Venezuela and Central Colombia, fried ripened plantain slices are known as tajadas. They are customary in most typical meals, such as the Venezuelan pabellón criollo. The host or waiter may also offer them as barandas (guard rails), in common slang, as the long slices are typically placed on the sides of a full dish, and therefore look as such. Some variations include adding honey or sugar and frying the slices in butter, to obtain a golden caramel; the result has a sweeter taste and a characteristic pleasant smell. The same slices are known as amarillos and fritos maduros in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic respectively.

In Honduras, they are a popular takeaway food, usually with fried chicken, though they are also regularly eaten at home. They are popular chips sold in pulperias (minimarkets). In Panama, tajadas are eaten daily together with steamed rice, meat and beans, thus making up an essential part of the Panamanian diet, as with Honduras.

By contrast, in Nicaragua, tajadas are fried unripened plantain slices, and are traditionally served in a fritanga or with fried pork, or on their own on green banana leaves, either with a cabbage salad or fresh cheese.

On Colombia's Caribbean coast, tajadas of fried green plantain are consumed along with grilled meats, and are the dietary equivalent of the French-fried potatoes/chips of Europe and North America.


Main article: Tostones
Tostones being fried for the second time.

Tostones (also known as banana peze in Haiti, tachinos or chatinos in Cuba, platanos verdes fritos or fritos verdes in the Dominican Republic and patacones in Nicaragua, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Venezuela) are twice-fried plantain patties, often served as a side, appetizer, or snack. Plantains are sliced in 4 cm (1.6 in) long pieces and fried in oil. The segments are then removed and individually smashed down either with a bottle's bottom side, or with a tostonera, to about half their original height. Finally, the pieces are fried again and then seasoned to taste, often with salt. In some countries, such as Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, the tostones are dipped in creole sauce from chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp before eating. In some South American countries, the name tostones is used to describe this food when prepared at home and also plantain chips (mentioned above), which are typically purchased from a store. In western Venezuela, much of Colombia and the Peruvian Amazon, patacones are very popular. Plantains are again sliced in long pieces and fried in oil, then they are used to make sandwiches with pork, beef, chicken, vegetables and ketchup. They can be made with unripe patacon verde or ripe patacon amarillo plantains. Tostones in the Dominican Republic are once-fried and are thicker than chips. Although there are many names for tostones in almost every Latin country they are still commonly called tostones in all of Latin America.


Main article: tacacho

Tacacho is a roasted plantain Amazonian cuisine dish from Peru. It is usually served con cecina with bits of pork.[1]


In Venezuela, a yo-yo is a traditional dish made of two short slices of fried ripened plantain (see Tajadas) placed on top of each other, with local soft white cheese in the middle (in a sandwich-like fashion) and held together with toothpicks. The arrangement is dipped in beaten eggs and fried again until the cheese melts and the yo-yo acquires a deep golden hue. They are served as sides or entrees.

Use of plant components

Plantain leaves are used as plates in some tropical regions.
Plantains, raw
"Musa × paradisiaca" (Daily Value)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 510 kJ (120 kcal)
31.89 g
Sugars 15 g
Dietary fiber 2.3 g
0.37 g
1.3 g
Vitamin A equiv.

56 μg

457 μg
Thiamine (B1)

0.052 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

0.054 mg

Niacin (B3)

0.686 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)

0.26 mg

Vitamin B6

0.299 mg

Folate (B9)

22 μg


13.5 mg

Vitamin C

18.4 mg

Vitamin E

0.14 mg

Vitamin K

0.7 μg


3 mg


0.6 mg


37 mg


34 mg


499 mg


4 mg


0.14 mg

Other constituents
Water 65.3 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Plantain flowers

Each pseudostem of a plantain plant will flower only once, and all the flowers grow at the end of its shoot in a large bunch consisting of multiple hands with individual fingers (the fruits). Only the first few hands will become fruits.

In the Philippines, the plantain inflorescence (particularly those from Saba bananas), locally known as Puso ng Saging (Banana hearts) are eaten. In Vietnam, the young male flower, at the end of the bunch, is used in salads. In the cuisine of Laos, the plantain flower is typically eaten raw in vermicelli soups. A type of poriyal/ peretal (dry curry) is made from plantain flowers in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Thoran is made in Kerala with the end of the bunch (called "koompu" in Malayalam) and is considered to be highly nutritious. In Karnataka, the inflorescence is used to make sweet and sour gojju (a gravy dish).

Plantain leaves

Main article: Banana leaf

Plantain leaves can exceed two meters in length. They are similar to banana leaves, but are larger and stronger, thus reducing waste in cooking. In Latin America, plantain leaves are lightly smoked over an open fire, which makes them more flexible, and improves storage properties, flavor and aroma. In Venezuela, they are fairly widely available in grocery stores or open air markets and are used as wrappers in hallacas. In Nicaragua, they wrap nacatamales, as well as vigoron, vaho and other dishes. In Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia, plantain leaves are usually used to wrap tamales before and while cooking, and they can be used to wrap any kind of seasoned meat while cooking to keep the flavor in. Puerto Rican pasteles are made primarily with fresh green banana dough stuffed with pork, and then wrapped in plantain leaves which have been softened at the fire. Many rice dishes in Puerto Rico are cooked with plantain leaves as a lid to add flavor and aroma. In Puerto Rico fish and pork shoulder can be wrapped in plantain leaves and baked. Guanimes known as Puerto Rican tamales, cornmeal cooked with coconut milk and other ingredients are wrapped in plantain leaves. Similarly, in Africa, plantain leaves are dried and used to wrap corn dough before it is boiled to make fanti kenkey, a Ghanaian dish eaten with ground pepper, onions, tomatoes and fishing. In Nigeria, ground beans mixture with onions, fish and boiled egg, is wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled to make bean cake called moin-moin (moi-moi).

Traditionally, plantain leaves are used like plates while serving South Indian thali or during Sadya. A traditional southern Indian meal is served on a plantain leaf with the position of the different kinds of food items on the leaf having an importance. They also have a religious significance in many Hindu rituals. They add a subtle, but essential, aroma to the dish. In the Indian state of Kerala, a food preparation called ada is made in plantain leaves. Plantain leaves are also used in making karimeen pollichathu in Kerala. In the South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, plantain leaves is used to serve food during festivals or special occasions. People use the leaves as a cooking foil for steaming idlis (steamed rice cakes) and kozhukkatais (steamed rice dumplings). It is also widely used as a packaging material for packing food and flowers (though this is now replaced widely by plastics). It has similar usage for certain kinds of food in the Philippines as well.

Plantain shoot

After harvesting the fruit, the plantain plant can be cut and the layers peeled (like an onion) to get a cylinder-shaped soft shoot. In the South Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, plantain shoot is chopped into fine pieces and made as a salad or a dry curry (often seasoned with coconut and green chillies), or as a wet curry (with yogurt, red chillies and coconut). Plantain shoot is considered rich in fibres, and is considered as a very good remedy for avoiding constipation. Regular intake of the juice squeezed from the shoot or the shoot consumed as a salad is considered by the locals as a sure cure for various ailments, such as stomach ulcers and kidney stones. This can be chopped and first steamed, then fried with masala powder, to make a special dish. This dish is called posola in Assamese and a distinct part of Assamese cuisine. In Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, a thoran is made from the shoot for auspicious occasions like marriages. The peeled layers are used by farmers as a binding rope for packaging agricultural produce, such as flowers, betel leaves, etc. The dried stem peels are slit into fine threads and are used for weaving mats, stringing garlands and packaging wrapper. Juice from the stem and the peel have also been used traditionally as a first aid for burns and minor abrasions.

Vazhaithandu is a Tamil word for the stem and it is used in various soups, stews, stir frys, and koottus.


Plantain is 32% carbohydrates with 2% dietary fiber and 15% sugars, 1% protein, 0.4% fat, and 65% water, supplying 122 calories in a 100 gram serving (table). Raw plantain is an excellent source (20% or higher of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin B6 (23% DV) and vitamin C (22% DV), and a good source (10-19% DV) of magnesium and potassium (table).

Containing little beta-carotene (457 micrograms per 100 grams), plantain is not a good source of vitamin A (table).

Comparison to other staple foods

The following table shows the nutrient content of raw plantain and major staple foods.

Nutrient content of major staple foods per 100g portion[34]
Nutrient component: Maize / Corn[A] Rice (white)[B] Rice (brown)[I] Wheat[C] Potato[D] Cassava[E] Soybean (Green)[F] Sweet potato[G] Yam[Y] Sorghum[H] Plantain[Z] RDA
Water (g) 10 12 10 13 79 60 68 77 70 9 65 3000
Energy (kJ) 1528 1528 1549 1369 322 670 615 360 494 1419 511 2000–2500
Protein (g) 9.4 7.1 7.9 12.6 2.0 1.4 13.0 1.6 1.5 11.3 1.3 50
Fat (g) 4.74 0.66 2.92 1.54 0.09 0.28 6.8 0.05 0.17 3.3 0.37
Carbohydrates (g) 74 80 77 71 17 38 11 20 28 75 32 130
Fiber (g) 7.3 1.3 3.5 12.2 2.2 1.8 4.2 3 4.1 6.3 2.3 30
Sugar (g) 0.64 0.12 0.85 0.41 0.78 1.7 0 4.18 0.5 0 15
Calcium (mg) 7 28 23 29 12 16 197 30 17 28 3 1000
Iron (mg) 2.71 0.8 1.47 3.19 0.78 0.27 3.55 0.61 0.54 4.4 0.6 8
Magnesium (mg) 127 25 143 126 23 21 65 25 21 0 37 400
Phosphorus (mg) 210 115 333 288 57 27 194 47 55 287 34 700
Potassium (mg) 287 115 223 363 421 271 620 337 816 350 499 4700
Sodium (mg) 35 5 7 2 6 14 15 55 9 6 4 1500
Zinc (mg) 2.21 1.09 2.02 2.65 0.29 0.34 0.99 0.3 0.24 0 0.14 11
Copper (mg) 0.31 0.22 0.43 0.11 0.10 0.13 0.15 0.18 - 0.08 0.9
Manganese (mg) 0.49 1.09 3.74 3.99 0.15 0.38 0.55 0.26 0.40 - - 2.3
Selenium (μg) 15.5 15.1 70.7 0.3 0.7 1.5 0.6 0.7 0 1.5 55
Vitamin C (mg) 0 0 0 0 19.7 20.6 29 2.4 17.1 0 18.4 90
Thiamin (B1)(mg) 0.39 0.07 0.40 0.30 0.08 0.09 0.44 0.08 0.11 0.24 0.05 1.2
Riboflavin (B2)(mg) 0.20 0.05 0.09 0.12 0.03 0.05 0.18 0.06 0.03 0.14 0.05 1.3
Niacin (B3) (mg) 3.63 1.6 5.09 5.46 1.05 0.85 1.65 0.56 0.55 2.93 0.69 16
Pantothenic acid (B5) (mg) 0.42 1.01 1.49 0.95 0.30 0.11 0.15 0.80 0.31 - 0.26 5
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.62 0.16 0.51 0.3 0.30 0.09 0.07 0.21 0.29 - 0.30 1.3
Folate Total (B9) (μg) 19 8 20 38 16 27 165 11 23 0 22 400
Vitamin A (IU) 214 0 0 9 2 13 180 14187 138 0 1127 5000
Vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol (mg) 0.49 0.11 0.59 1.01 0.01 0.19 0 0.26 0.39 0 0.14 15
Vitamin K1 (μg) 0.3 0.1 1.9 1.9 1.9 1.9 0 1.8 2.6 0 0.7 120
Beta-carotene (μg) 97 0 5 1 8 0 8509 83 0 457 10500
Lutein+zeaxanthin (μg) 1355 0 220 8 0 0 0 0 0 30
Saturated fatty acids (g) 0.67 0.18 0.58 0.26 0.03 0.07 0.79 0.02 0.04 0.46 0.14
Monounsaturated fatty acids (g) 1.25 0.21 1.05 0.2 0.00 0.08 1.28 0.00 0.01 0.99 0.03
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (g) 2.16 0.18 1.04 0.63 0.04 0.05 3.20 0.01 0.08 1.37 0.07
A yellow corn B raw unenriched long-grain white rice
C hard red winter wheat D raw potato with flesh and skin
E raw cassava F raw green soybeans
G raw sweet potato H raw sorghum
Y raw yam Z raw plantains
I raw long-grain brown rice


Plantain and banana allergies occur with typical characteristics of food allergy or latex fruit syndrome,[35][36] including itching and mild swelling of the lips, tongue, palate or throat, skin rash, stomach complaints or anaphylactic shock. Among more than 1000 proteins identified in Musa species were numerous previously described protein allergens.[37]

See also


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  2. "Merriam-Webster Dictionary".
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  11. Thi-Thanh-Tam Vu (2005). Modes of Action of Non-pathogenic Fusarium oxysporum Endophytes for Bio-enhancement of Banana Toward Radopholus similis. Cuvillier Verlag. p. 1. ISBN 9783865374752.
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  14. Mary Taylor (2003). "Status of Banana R&D in the Pacific". In A.B. Molina, V.N. Roa, I. Van der Bergh, M.A.G. Maghuyop, and K. Borromeo. Advancing banana and plantain R & D in Asia and the Pacific Vol. 12: Proceedings of the 2nd BAPNET Steering Committee Meeting held in Jakarta, Indonesia, 6-11 October 2003. Bioversity International. p. 129.
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