Dodo: The Delectable Nigerian Plantains You Need To Make

Perhaps you're familiar with plantains but you've never actually tasted one or prepared them in your own kitchen before. If that's the case, you should head over to your local supermarket's tropical fruit section as soon as you can. While they're often compared to bananas, plantains are typically cooked and eaten rather than consumed raw. They're sweet like bananas, but starchier, according to The Pioneer Woman, which is one of the reasons why they need to be cooked before they're consumed. 

And while bananas tend to brown as they become over-ripe, a plantain with a blackened peel and a touch of yellow is the sign of a perfectly ripe one. These are the perfect addition to Dodo, which is a traditional Nigerian dish made of plantains that are fried to bring out their sweet notes and are typically served as a breakfast dish, as a snack, or as a side dish to accompany hearty meats, beans, or rice (via All Nigerian Recipes).

The history of plantains in Nigeria

While plantains originated in Southeast Asia, they found their way to Africa in about 1500 AD, where they were largely used for trading, according to African Foods. Today, plantains are a staple in Nigerian cooking and can be incorporated into a number of breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrées. While they're a staple in Africa, plantains are also one of the top 10 staple foods in the world, per research by World Atlas.

In Nigerian cooking, plantains are often boiled, roasted, and grilled, in addition to Dodo's popular pan-frying method, according to All Nigerian Recipes. Dodo is the moniker given to fried sweet plantains by the Yoruba people, an ethnic group in West Africa that is concentrated in southwestern Nigeria, Benin, and Togo (via The New York Times). And with just a few ingredients, you can whip up traditional Nigerian Dodo in your own kitchen.

How to make Dodo in your own kitchen

To prepare the traditional Nigerian dish at home, try this Dodo recipe from Serious Eats. You'll need just three ingredients — two large ripe plantains (remember, look for ones that have a perfect combination of black and yellow peel), 3/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 2 quarts of vegetable oil. Next, you'll slice your plantains into your desired shape and thickness, then place them in a bowl and toss them with the salt. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, then line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. 

Then, heat your oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add half of the plantains, stirring occasionally and frying until they're golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the oil and place them onto your baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven to stay warm while you fry the second batch. Repeat the frying process, then transfer the fried plantains to a serving bowl and dig in.

Once you've mastered the basic recipe, you can also incorporate additional ingredients like red onion, lime, and red pepper flakes, as this Dodo recipe from The New York Times does, or enhance the dish with a dash of cayenne pepper, as recommended by The Happy Foodie.