If you love plantain,there's no question that London is a great place to find it served in every conceivable way. So we asked Rui Da Silva, author of A Quick Ting on Plantain, to give us his guided tour of London's best places serving up plantain right now.
Brixton, Clapham, Shepherds Bush, Lewisham and Walthamstow
A vegan and vegetarian restaurant, where ‘vegans and vegetarians can be proud to bring their friends’ this makes the list because not only is it hard to find good, vegan-friendly spots that cater to authentic Afro-Caribbean cuisine but it’s hard to find places that do it as good as Eat of Eden. Walking a fine and delicious line between blasphemy and reverence, Eat of Eden, is a restaurant that prides itself on serving organic food inspired by Caribbean Ital food mixed with European recipes.
Pronounced I-tal, this is a food culture surfaced by the Rastafari movement which believes that all food should add to a person’s vitality, with natural or pure ingredients. Ergo, menu items here like the Ackee & Sweet Pepper Meal come with a salad, grains and sides of choice or the Stew Peas Meal, a red kidney bean stew with salad and choice of grains. Both include a strong side of plantain.
Must-try dish: Either the box of plantain - just sweet ripe plantain but it's really all you need or the Pumpkin and sweet potato curry served with plantain.
274 High Rd, London N15 4AJ
Sitting kushty in Seven Sisters, Chuku’s - London’s First and Only Nigerian Tapas Restaurant - gets on this list because it takes a cuisine with strong cultural roots and rich flavours and gives a bit of a twist in a way that amplifies. It’s not everyone that can turn Nigerian food into bite-sized tapas and get the thumbs-up from the community. Chuku's is founded on three concepts. ‘Chop’ Nigerian pidgin for ‘eat’, ‘Chat’ for a social experience centred around Nigerian food and finally ‘Chill’, for cooling down against the sonic backdrop of Nigerian music and Nigerian inspired art.
With a menu full of exciting new ways to try Nigerian cuisine, dishes like Jollof Quinoa or Plantain Waffle really showcase the concept of Chuku’s to you.
Must-try dish: Plantain Waffle - Gluten-free vegan waffle topped with blueberries, maple syrup & dairy-free ice cream. What more could you ask for?
North Cross and Peckham Levels
More often than not, plantain, if it's served at all, will be offered as a side dish. But Plantain Kitchen, as suggested by the name, knows the levels and puts plantain front and centre stage. Started by Toby Oladokun, Plantain Kitchen's mission is to bring West African cuisine, inspired by Ghanaian-Nigerian roots to the masses. With staple recipes like Jollof and Suya, packaged with very generous amounts of plantain, Plantain Kitchen gives you classic African staple cuisine, on the go. They even provide a whole bowl of plantain, answering the calls of plantain lovers all over the city.
Must-try dish: Jollof rice and fried plantain with grilled chicken or vegetable stew.
428 St John St, London EC1V 4NJ
As you’d expect, Roti World is ALL about the roti. They bring a variety of flavours to a recipe that’s stood the test of time thanks to the thousands of Afro-Caribbean and South Asian home cooks keeping the tradition of good well made rotis alive. Believed to have developed as a staple of Caribbean food from both African and South-East Asian influences, it’s about time the roti was given a place all to itself. I admit, the menu item that really caught my eye was of course, the Plantain Patty. Served with apple chilli jam and fresh salad, I almost kissed my teeth in disapproval until I tried it for myself. That’s all.
Must-try dish: Plantain patty in a roti or as a naked bowl option.
Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Rd, London SW9 8PQ
With the extensive culinary history of plantain all throughout South America, no list can be complete without recipes hailing from Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Venezuela and more. Original Patacon, named after a method of cooking plantain unique to the region, is inspired by Colombian cuisine. The Patacon, takes over from the role of your bun or bread, with two wide slides of fried Plantain. Examples include the Patacon Relleno, a kind of sandwich usually filled with rich sauces, salads and meat or the plantain cups which are like tostones, fashioned like Yorkshire Pudding, with a range of fillings. South American cuisine is always great and with all the plantain, or should we say plantano, on this menu you have double the reason to make a visit.
Must-try dish: Plantain Wraps (Patacon Relleno) and The Burger with Pineapple BBQ Sauce, Cabbage, Sweet Plantain, Green Crispy Plantain, Smoked Cheese and Pickles (there's also a vegan option).
Rui's book, A Quick Ting on Plantain, is part of the A Quick Ting non-fiction series about Black British culture being published by Jacaranda this autumn.
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