Matooke flour, courtesy Ugandan Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development Programme
Steaming banana leaves for matooke. Full video sequence here.
There's a knock-down, drag-out contest going on right now in Kampala - held as a precursor to next month's World Banana Congress in Kenya - to see which chef makes the best Matooke, a Ugandan banana dish which I describe in my book as "the macaroni and cheese of the African highlands."
The contest began with over 100 chefs offering their recipes made with tooke, a flour made from East African Highland Plantains. Nine are now left standing, and they'll face off on October 5, serving their creations at a Presidential banquet to be held at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
Here's a description of the dish, which I refer to in my book, and which is more commonly referred to, as matooke. Interesting side note - I've mentioned it several times here, but Uganda is so dependent on bananas - many people get up to 90% of their daily calories from the fruit, eating up to 900 pounds of it a year, compared to about 25 pounds of it here in the United States - that in some small villages, the word for food, banana, and this signature dish are actually all the same. The description is from the Uganda Tourism website.
"One popular local dish is matooke (bananas of the plantain type) which are cooked boiled in a sauce of peanuts, fresh fish, meat or entrails. Matooke really goes with any relish, except that the best and most respectable way the Baganda cook it is to tie up the peeled fingers into a bundle of banana leaves which is then put in a cooking pan with just enough water to steam the leaves. When properly ready and tender, the bundle is removed and squeezed to get a smooth soft and golden yellow mash, served hot with all the banana leaves around to keep it hot. In Buganda, the food production process revolves around the banana tree. Tender banana tree shoots are removed from the plant and singed over fire to make a fine foil into which chunks of pork or beef are tied up and steamed on top of a bundle of bananas. This style of cooking preserves all the flavours and cooks up food like a pressure cooker, if not better. Dry banana leaves are used like bandages when bundles of matooke are being wrapped up for steaming. Strips and chunks cut from the banana tree stem can be used as a foundation at the bottom of the cooking pan so as to avoid the boiling water touching the bundle of the matooke being steamed.
I wish I was in Kenya to taste the gourmet versions, which are probably not entrail-laden. The dish, which can also be prepared with banana flour, may be coming to stores near you, according to a report published by the New Vision Ugandan news service. "We believe there is a huge market locally and globally for value added matooke products,” said. Dr. Florence Isabirye, director of the Ugandan Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development Programme (PIBID.)
Here's a recipe for matooke. You can use green plantains. It won't be the same, but you'll get the idea.