When most of us hear the word matoke (green plantain [bananas]); what immediately comes to mind is this – whole bananas (plantain) that are made in a tasty stew that has some beef or chicken. Sometimes it’s made in peanut sauce (delicious!). Matoke has been a staple dish in African cuisine for centuries.

It is the food that most babies are weaned on. So this gives you an idea of how well it is loved here. There are as many variations of making this dish as there are communities in Africa.

I also found out the other day that it’s made in other parts of the world as well and that the flavours are so rich. The Puerto Ricans call it mofongo. These are green plantains that are fried and mashed in a pilon (wooden mortar and pestle) with garlic, olive oil and some bits of pork cracklings or bacon. They are then filled either with vegetables, beef, shrimp or chicken and served with more fried beef or any broth of your choice. Mofongo is an extremely flavourful dish and it can be eaten at any time of day. It can be served as a side dish or a main dish.

MATOKE “HALF BALL” FILLED WITH MINCE MEAT (MOFONGO)I did not use the pork cracklings (skin of a pig which has been fried to render most of the fat out) and neither did I use bacon. But the dish was still very tasty. You should give it a try and find out for yourself what all the hype is about. I used sunflower vegetable oil for mashing instead of olive oil. In Kenya the price for olive oil is almost three times that one of other oils. Olive trees are not a common thing in Kenya and this means that majority of what we have is imported. Sunflower and corn oils are affordable and widely available. 

Recipe for matoke (mofongo) filled with mince meat


  • 6 medium sized plantains that are peeled. I had 5 unripe one and one that was semi ripe for the natural sweetness.
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil for mashing
  • Sufficient vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Filling of your choice (mine was mince meat)


  1. Heat up the vegetable oil in a pan and chop up the plantain into 2 inches pieces. (You will know it is hot enough when you drop a piece of plantain in it and it bubbles furiously).
  2. Fry the plantains until they turn a deep golden yellow. Do not let them turn brown. They might not taste as they are meant to and mashing them will also become difficult. Then Set aside on a kitchen paper to drain excess oil.
  3. My mortar is not very smooth inside so I lined it with a plastic paper. This made it easier for me to get the mofongo out.
  4. Add the garlic cloves, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp vegetable oil,
  5. Add the plantains in the pilon. Mash the mixture well and form a “well” in the middle that will be filled with the mince meat.You can use the back of a spoon of your hand to form the well.
  6. Add the mince mean in the well.
  7. Turn the pilon over and gently pull on the plastic paper.
  8. The mofongo should come out intact without breaking up.
  9. You can serve in a broth of your choice. Or you can just serve it with your favourite vegetable salad.



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