International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Matoke

Green bananas

(Ugandan beef and plantain stew)

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Plaintains and green bananas (matoke) are a staple part of the diet in Uganda and much of East Africa. Matoke is also the name given to a delicious, rib-sticking plantain stew that is a Ugandan national dish. Versions of matoke, also known as matooke, are served in Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.

If you use green bananas for this dish, make sure they are very green. Lightly green bananas that you find in your typical supermarket won't work. You need a special, extra-green type that is used specifically for cooking. Many Latin and Asian markets carry them.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Plantains or green bananas (see notes), peeled and diced -- 6 to 8
  • Lemon, juice only -- 1
  • Oil -- 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • Onion, chopped -- 1
  • Bell pepper, chopped -- 1
  • Garlic, minced -- 3 or 4 cloves
  • Chile peppers, finely chopped -- 3 or 4
  • Ground coriander -- 1 tablespoon
  • Stewing beef (optional), cubed -- 1 pound
  • Tomatoes, seeded and chopped -- 2 cups
  • Water or beef stock -- 2 cups
  • Salt -- to season

Method

  1. Toss the plantains with the lemon juice and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the onions and bell pepper and saute until the onion is cooked through and translucent, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic, chile peppers and coriander and saute for another minute or so.
  3. Stir in the beef and tomatoes and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. Add the beef stock or water and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the plantains and simmer for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the beef is tender and the plantains have softened. Adjust seasoning and serve hot.

Matoke Variations

  • Meat: Try using goat or lamb meat instead of beef. Brown the meat in the oil first for a deeper flavor, then add the onions and peppers. You can also use ground beef.
  • Dried Fish: Authentic matoke often includes dried, smoked fish. Take a piece of dried fish, usually catfish, and soak it until it is tender. Then debone the fish and flake it. Stir it into the stew along with the beef and tomatoes.
  • Vegetarian Matoke: Matoke is just as tasty when served as a vegetarian meal. Simply eliminate the beef and use water or vegetable stock.
  • Peanut-Flavored Matoke: Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of natural peanut butter or finely chopped peanuts during the last 5 minutes of cooking.