Uganda Matooke/Caribbean green banana in London
Matooke is a big bunch of green bananas which grows off the top of a tall stemmed, banana tree supported by very large green leaves .It is grown in a plantation form. In Uganda it is sold or picked from the garden in bunches enkota and divided in portions ebiwagu to determine how many fingers eminwe to cook. In Uganda it is unlikely that anyone would be counting individual fingers eminwe, in the preparation stages. . You get a nkota, and then divide it into biwagu and strip off eminwe to peel with a knife and cook. Traditionally matooke is steamed in fresh stem free banana leaves. After all the fingers are stripped off the bunch, the middle stem on which they grow is then cut into bits, the bits or alternatively the stems from the fresh banana leaves emizingonyo, are placed at the bottom of the sauce pan or clay pots in the days of my grandmother. To create a steamer water is added to the pan. In a separate preparation, two banana tree fibres ebyayi (stem of the banana tree in dry form) are put in a basket ekibbo and a fresh stem free banana leaf is put on top. The peeled fingers are then placed on the leaf in the basket, covered and secured with the fibre. The preparation is then placed in the steamer. Several stem free banana leaves are covered over the preparation to ensure the steam stays in to cook. The steamer is either placed on three stones over a wood made fire, a hot charcoal stove esigiri. Half way the cooking, the covering leaves are removed and the cooked matooke still securely tied in its banana leaf is placed in a basket, and then mashed through the cooked banana leaf using hands. It is then placed back in the steamer and cooked for a further period of time to ensure flavour and a soft texture.
In London with no fresh banana leaves, the peeled matooke is boiled in a pan, the water drained out and then it is mashed using a wooden spoon or potato masher. Cling film is laid out on top of foil paper separately. The mashed matooke is then wrapped up in the lined foil paper and placed in a pre-heated oven at medium heat for about 1.5 hours to get flavour and a soft texture. It tastes the same.
Ugandan matooke is served with any stew, however the major cooking method is boiling or steaming and very little use of oil. Stews can be made boiled or steamed in pans or a young stem free banana leaf oluwombo placed on top of the matooke preparation in the steaming process.
The Caribbean green banana (fingers) on the other hand is peeled by hand and rubbed with lemon. Separately water in a pan is boiled on the cooker… Oil and salt are added to the boiling water before the peeled bananas is put into the pan; the preparation is cooked until bananas are soft. The water is drained and the bananas served with a steamed fish and vegetables.
Mashed green banana is prepared by adding, boiled bananas to a bowl and crush with a fork or potato masher. Butter, milk, salt and pepper are then added and mashed until smooth. It is served with meat and vegetables.
Green banana porridge is made by; grating the raw bananas. Separately put pan of water on to boil. When water is boiling add grated banana and stir for 4 minutes. After this add milk, spices, vanilla essence and sugar. Continue stirring until the banana takes on a porridge consistency.
By Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2012)©