Friday, July 08, 2011

Recipe #77: Krakro (kaklo) spicy plantain balls with corn dough

Stop! Do NOT throw out those squishy, moldy plantains. They're perfect for lots of things, especially this recipe, which is reminiscent of both tatale and bofrot. While I'm partial to kelewele and tatale, many Ghanaians choose this as a favorite snack or side dish, especially when served with a peppery sauce like gravy or shito. It also pairs well as an entrée with bean stew. While the seasoning ingredients are similar to those for tatale, the texture is quite different. Here are 2 versions from Flair Catering:
Recipe #77:  Krakro (kaklo) [Spicy plantain balls with corn dough], Version 1
Assemble ingredients:
  • ~3 over-ripe plantains, enough to yield at least 2 cups when pounded
  • 3 Tablespoons of finely grated onion
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of any fresh hot pepper, grated or finely minced (or substitute additional dried red pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground red pepper
  • a scant 1/2 cup of unfermented corn dough (or 4 oz)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
  • ~2 Tablespoons of wheat flour
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder
  1. Peel and pound the plantains (You can use a metal bowl and a sturdy glass or cup or even wooden spoon to smash them well. I used the wooden mashing tool from my asanka). You should have a good 2 cups.
  2. Sprinkle over the plantains the grated onion, *fresh pepper, salt, and dried pepper, along with a few tablespoons of the water (*NOTE: I didn't have fresh red pepper, so I increased the amount of dried red pepper).
  3. Add just enough water to the corn dough to make it smooth, and add it to the bowl with the plantain and seasonings.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of flour to the dough and the teaspoon of baking powder, and stir well. If the dough seems very soft, add a little more dough; if it seems too dry, a little more water.
  5. Allow the mixture to sit for 20 or 30 minutes before deep frying it in small balls, following the directions for Recipe 28A or 28B. Because of the high sugar content of the over ripe plantains, I set my deep fryer at a slightly lower heat (about 360 degrees F) than I would for donuts. Drain well on paper towels or paper.
Variations: If corn dough is unavailable,  this can also be made using a combination of rice and wheat flours, and adjusting the water as necessary. Some earlier recipes omit the wheat flour and the baking powder altogether. If you choose to, you will need to decrease the amount of water, or omit it altogether. Also, some recipes include fresh ginger (I like to use a bit in mine), and some even include a little sugar as an optional addition.
Version 2: Krakro (kaklo) [Plantain balls with roasted cornmeal, aka
Ablemamu Krakro, Kyekyire Krakro]
In this version  roasted cornmeal (ablemamu), [somewhat difficult to prepare if you cannot find some at an African market] is substituted for the cornmeal. Follow the recipe above, but replace the corn dough with a cup of  the toasted corn flour, and about 1/3 cup of water. As before, if the dough is too soft to hold its shape, add a little more water, if it is too thick, add water a spoonful at a time.
Looking at some historic Ghana cookbooks (Alice Dede's Ghanaian Favorite Dishes, 1969 and Ghana Recipe Book, 1970), creative Ghanaian cooks have never limited themselves to making these fried balls with corn dough or flour: there are also recipes using cassava (after grating it and squeezing out the juice and omitting the plantain, and serving it with coconut); using mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, butter or fat, water or milk, and coating the balls with bread crumbs, then frying them and serving with meat or fish stew; and with gari. Yam balls (yele kakro), are also quite popular.
Why not try something different today?

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