Fried Plantains ~ Ndizi Kaanga

These fried plantains, or ndizi kaanga, are an easy Tanzanian side dish that brightens any plate.

A white plate topped with slices of fried plantains or ndizi kaanga and lemon wedges with a fork on the side.

As Ma Vicky taught us, plantains are a huge part of Tanzanian cooking, and there are tons of varietals and different ways of preparing each. These simple fried plantains are best made with bright yellow plantains that are somewhere in between the firm, starchy-green underripe plantains and the super-soft, super-sweet, almost-black overripe plantains. Fried in a little butter (or ghee) and finished with a splash of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of both salt and nutmeg, these plantains ride the line between sweet and savory. [Editor’s Note: This and other recipes we’ve seen for this preparation slice the plantains much more thickly than tostones. If you prefer, you can slice them 1/2 inch rather than 1 inch thick and adjust the cooking time as needed.]

Serve on their own for a snack or alongside rice pilaf, cooked vegetables, and grilled meat or fish for a complete meal. You could even sprinkle them with a bit of brown sugar as they cook, finish them with a splash of rum, and serve with vanilla ice cream for a Tanzanian version of bananas foster.–Hawa Hassan & Julia Turshen

Do I need to smash the plantains before cooking?

No, you don’t. Not for this recipe. That’s traditional for tostones, a Caribbean preparation in which the plantains are sliced, then smashed to an even thinness prior to being fried. But this tradition is just as lovely in a different way.

Fried Plantains ~Ndizi Kaanga

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Serves 2 to 4
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Ingredients


Directions

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the plantain pieces in a single layer and cook until dark brown on the undersides, 2 to 5 minutes.

Tester tip: A well-seasoned cast iron skillet works really quite well in place of nonstick.

Carefully turn each plantain and cook just until the other side of each is lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Transfer the plantains to a platter and drizzle with the lemon juice and sprinkle with the salt and nutmeg.

Serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in a container in the refrigerator for up to a few days and warmed in a skillet before serving.

Tester tip: If you have leftovers, just know that they’ll never have that just-from-the-pan bit of crispy-ness contrasted with the soft insides after sitting in a fridge, even if warmed in a skillet.
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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This was my first experience with plantains and I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor of these. I found I liked them best when they were fried crispy and sprinkled with a little bit of brown sugar while frying. The flavor combination of sweet brown sugar mixed and the tang of the lemon juice was enough to satisfy my urge to snack.

I ate these just as they were, cooked in butter with brown sugar, salt, and nutmeg. They would be good topped with whipped cream.

It had been a while since I had tasted plantain and I had forgotten how filling this fruit/vegetable could be. This recipe works. It’s fast, it’s tasty, it’s nutritious. The plantain is an acquired not-so-much taste but texture. It’s unexpectedly dense and very filling.

Nutritiously, this fruit/vegetable is higher in potassium and magnesium than bananas. It is also high in fiber and has anti-inflammatory properties. The nutmeg and lemon juice brighten up the flavor. I used flaked salt, as this is my favorite finishing salt, and it delivered. The flavor and texture worked well in my sweet application paired with fresh blueberries and blueberry jam on a Dutch baby pancake. The plantain slices were thick in this application but would have worked well thinly sliced.

The plantain also warmed up well 2 days later to be served as a side to butter chicken and other veggies. I would enjoy this plantain recipe again but as a side vegetable to truly take advantage of the density and texture with a background savory sweet flavor profile.

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