This one is for all of you porridge lovers out there. I’ve posted photos of our porridge on instagram before and always get asked for a recipe, so finally getting around to sharing this favorite one with you! This is my take on a West Indian classic dish of plantain porridge. My husband grew up in back country hills of the St. James parish in Jamaica, and learned how to cook porridge along with other Jamaican classics from some of the best country cooks in the “bush” over a wood fire. This is where he learned how to develop deep flavors, and the importance of good ingredients. In Jamaica you can make the most delicious meal with very little… a carrot, onion, garlic, tomato, scallion and thyme, because the produce grown in the country’s famous red dirt is really so much more flavorful than anything we’ve ever bought or even grown ourselves in the U.S. (And I think anything cooked over a wood fire in the country will always taste better anyway, right?!?)
But I digress, back to the porridge…
It is traditionally made by grating unripe green plantains and cooking them in water and milk, adding lots of sugar and flavoring it with cinnamon leaf and nutmeg. Often times fresh coconut milk is used in the cooking process too. I prefer to blend the plantain because it cooks quicker and becomes very smooth and creamy with this method.
You can find green plantains at most large supermarkets these days, but if you’re having trouble sourcing them, unripe green bananas can also be used to make porridge in the same manner. The flavor will be a little different (still good) but the texture will be similar. Plantains are the starchier cousin to bananas. The most common method of cooking plantains is to fry them, both ripe (yellow with brown streaks) and unripe (green and firm), which we love to do (as you’ve probably seen before if you watch my instagram stories).
Cinnamon leaf is very hard to come by in the states (what you see in the photos was brought back from Jamaica), but if you live in subtropical/tropical zones I highly suggest using it to flavor your porridge. The leaves of the cinnamon tree have the most wonderful aroma and flavor, not as harsh as commercially available cinnamon, and slightly floral. Mace is the outer waxy covering on nutmeg shells. If you have access to it, it adds a lovely spice flavor to the porridge, but it is completely optional.
I hope you give this one a try, it’s really very delicious and filling, and if you do please comment or tag me so I can see your creations!
recipe after the jump…
Vegan West Indian Plantain Porridge
This version is sweetened solely with dates and sliced bananas in an attempt to reduce the amount of processed sweeteners (i.e. maple syrup, rapadura sugar-any sweetener that is granulated or in syrup form is still processed in some way) we consume, but you can of course sweeten it with whatever sweetener you prefer.
- 1 large green unripe plantain
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk such as soymilk or almond milk
- 10 medjool dates, pitted
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 2 cinnamon sticks or several cinnamon leaves
- whole mace from nutmeg (optional)
- ½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- coconut milk for serving
- banana slices for serving
- Peel plantain by running tip of knife in peel from top to bottom 3-4 times, and then use fingers to peel away the skin. If you have trouble, just cut the peel off with a knife.
- Cut plantain into smaller pieces and add to blender along with water. Blend on high until mixture is completely smooth, leaving no lumps.
- Pour mixture into a 3-quart saucepan, add vanilla bean, cinnamon and mace, and set aside while you prep milk.
- Rinse blender out and add pitted dates and milk, blending on high until dates are completely ground completely. Set aside.
- Cook plantain mixture on medium-high heat, stirring constantly to avoid lumps and burning, for about 5 minutes or until plantain mixture is thickened, opaque, shiny and smooth. Remove pan from heat and pour in date/milk mixture. Return to heat, stirring constantly, until porridge bubbles and is a thick yet pourable consistency. If too thick stir in a bit more milk. Remove from heat and stir in grated nutmeg.
- Serve hot, topped with fresh coconut milk, banana slices and a sprinkle of grated nutmeg. Enjoy!
Store any leftover porridge in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to several days.
If you are unable to source green plantains, you can substitute them with green unripe bananas. The flavor will be slightly different (still good) but will have a similar texture.
Since the starchiness of each plantain will differ, you may need to add more milk to get to the consistency you like.
I kept this recipe pretty basic, but feel free to add any combo of milks you would like. We often make and add almond milk, jungle peanut milk, flax seed milk, etc. Along those same lines, get creative with the toppings. Dried fruits like chopped dates, raisins, currants, etc all work nicely. Chopped nuts and seeds are yummy additions too.
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Hand made wares in this post: Wooden spoon by Polder’s Old World Market.