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from: Eastern Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering

Plantains in Coconut Milk

Zanzibar, off Africa's eastern coast, is called "the spice island", famous for its cloves and vanilla. Zanzibar is the center of the Swahili civilization. The Swahili word for plantains is ndizi. This Swahili dish made from plantains is a delicious accompaniment for any curry dish.

bananas in guinea

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Ibn Battuta

They cook banana before it is ripe

Ibn Battuta (b. Morocco, 1304-1368? AD) was the greatest traveler and travel writer of the medieval age. His Rihlah (Travels) documents his travel and employment in almost every Muslim country, and much of the non-Muslim Eastern hemisphere. This quotation comes from the translation in Ibn_Battuta in Black Africa by Said Hamdun and Noël King (Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 1994). Battuta evidently ate something very similar to this dish. This passage also illustrates the connection between Eastern Africa and India, as anyone who has had mango chutney can recognize.

[Adan, Zaila, Maqdashaw (January, 1331, Mogadishu)] Their food is rice cooked with ghee placed on a large wooden dish. They put on top dishes of kushan--this is the relish, of chicken and meat and fish and vegetables. They cook banana before it is ripe in fresh milk and they put it on a dish, and they put sour milk in a dish with pickled lemon on it and bunches of pickled chillies, vinegared and salted, and green ginger and mangoes. These are like apples but they have a stone, and when they ripen they are very sweet and are eaten like a fruit. But before they ripen they are bitter like lemons and they pickle them in vinegar. When they eat a ball of rice, they eat after it something of these salted and vinegared foods. Now one of these people of Maqdashaw habitually eats as much as a group of us [Moroccans] would. They are extremely large and fat of body.


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