Platonos Maduros

(Continuing from previous post) It’s nice to have accompaniments to the meal, and one dish I know I love is fried plantains, platonos maduros. I figured at least some of the refugees would love them too. Platonos maduros is eaten all over South and Central America, with regional variations — in Venezuela, they like to add cinnamon, it turns out.

This was the easiest to do, although it helps that I could just haul out the deep fryer, pour in the corn oil, and set it to the right temperature. Kevin helped with peeling (with a knife at times — they don’t peel quite as easily as bananas) and slicing up the plantains.

I got the ripest ones they had at Pete’s (you want them yellow with lots of black on them for this dish), but some of them were not quite as ripe as I’d have liked, so the end result on those pieces was a little closer to tostones, which are also delicious.

But mostly it was just frying it up — 8 plantains ended up being 3 batches in the deep fryer, so maybe 30 minutes of active cooking time overall. Dry briefly on paper towels, then toss with cinnamon and a little lime juice, filling most of a half-foil tray. (In retrospect, I wish I’d gotten 2 more plantains — oh well!)

I also got a big container of Utz pork rinds (which seemed at least sort of similar to chicarrones?) at Costco, and some candied papaya at Pete’s, both of which are popular in Venezuela. I was, of course, tempted to try cooking them both myself, but I was trying to be reasonable with my time and not exhaust myself. Sometimes it’s better to throw a few dollars at the problem…

…oh, and speaking of which, I am really glad I Instacarted the Costco groceries, because delivery was free, and it saved me probably two hours (counting driving time) and a lot of tiredness (from lugging lots of water bottles, etc). Totally worth the delivery person tip, in terms of my energy and sanity!

Mixing Up the Kale Sambol

— you COULD do it with a fork, of course, or a spatula. But it is easier and more fun to do it with your clean hand, and you can blend it together better too. Recommended! (For this last video, I took over the mixing from Kevin, and let him just record…)

1 min, 21 seconds.


Kale Sambol

(20 minutes, serves 8.)

I had never been a big kale fan, but my friend, Roshani, completely converted me with her Aunty Indranee’s use of kale in this traditional sambol. In Sri Lanka, this would have been made with a native green, gotu kola, but kale is an excellent substitute (you can also try any other leafy greens, like beet greens, mustard greens, or rainbow chard).

For this preparation, kale is chopped small and tenderized with lime juice. When mixed with the coconut, tomatoes, sugar, and salt, the result is a tasty and addictive sambol that has become an essential component to many of our meals.

1 bunch kale, leaves stripped off (stems discarded)
1 medium onion, minced
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1-2 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
Juice of 2 small limes (about 2-3 TBL)
1-2 TBL sugar
1 tsp fine salt

1. Pulse kale in food processor until completely shredded into small bits.

2. Add onion, coconut, tomato, lime juice, sugar, salt. Mix thoroughly.

Can be served immediately, but best if allowed to sit and blend for an hour or so. Will keep in fridge for a good week—refresh with a little extra lime juice as needed.


(NOTE: We just made a half batch of the recipe tonight, because it’s just us eating it over the next few days. I’ll probably make it again fresh before the staff meeting on Tuesday.)

Pulsing the Kale

That sounds like it should be something — the name of a dance move, maybe? Maybe not. I think I ended up doing 2 more pulses after this video stopped to get it to the right consistency; I aim for something like the parsley in tabbouleh.

11 seconds. (A little loud!)


Kale for Kale Sambol

For kale sambol, my recipe says to use a food processor, but you can, of course, chop it by hand. I do sometimes, when I’m not in a mood to haul out the food processor, though I rarely chop it as finely as the machine does. You do need to pulse it in a couple of phases, rather than trying to cram it all in at once — that’d just result in goo.

I *can* chop it quite finely; I’m just not motivated to work that hard! Not unless I’m going to have guests and I want the dish to show off its best self… 🙂

Reconstituting the Desiccated

I was v. tired from not sleeping last night, so even though tonight’s recipe was very simple, I drafted Kevin into making it for me, and limited myself to just taking a little video and some photos. Here Kev’s reconstituting the desiccated coconut in a little hot milk.

38 seconds.


An Acceptable Substitute

Ideally, you’d have coconuts right outside, and you could just crack them in half and grate yourself some fresh coconut. But for those of us whose climate doesn’t permit such a thing, and who have run out of the frozen coconut that our grocery stores now finally carry, at least we have the option of reconstituting dessicated (not sweetened!) coconut in a little hot milk or coconut milk, for something that ends up an acceptable substitute for the original…

Coconut Sambol / Thengai-Poo or Pol Sambol

I felt like a relatively light dinner tonight, and a simple vegan meal of coconut milk rice, cauliflower poriyal, and pol (coconut) sambol hit the spot! (Coconut two ways…)

I give you lots of photos of pol sambol, because I make it ALL THE TIME, and so I HAVE lots of photos of it. 🙂


Coconut Sambol / Thengai-Poo or Pol Sambol

(10 minutes, serves 8.)

This is meant to be an accompaniment—make a batch (it keeps for weeks in the fridge) and then put a teaspoon or two on your plate with your rice/bread and curries. In Sri Lanka, they would just use straight up chili powder, instead of a mix of chili powder and paprika, which would make it fiercely spicy. If I were only going to make one accompaniment for the rest of my life, pol sambol would be my choice, although seeni sambol would be a very close second.

1 cup desiccated unsweetened coconut
3 TBL hot milk (I heat mine in the microwave)
1 rounded tsp salt
1 rounded tsp chili powder
2 rounded tsp paprika
2-3 TBL lime juice, to taste
1 medium onion, minced fine

1. Reconstitute coconut in a large bowl with the hot milk. I recommend using your fingers to squeeze the milk through the coconut. (If you can get fresh or frozen grated coconut, that is, of course, even better, and you can skip this step.)

2. Add salt, chili powder, paprika, lime juice, and onion. Mix thoroughly with your hand, rubbing ingredients together until well blended.

Note: If you don’t feel that your onion is minced sufficiently fine (ideally, to match the texture of the coconut), you can use a food processor to chop it more finely, or grind it with a mortar and pestle. You can grind just the onions, or the whole mixture.


A Set of Three

One of the Kickstarter reward tiers involved a set of 3 chutneys, sambols, pickles, that kind of thing. Clearly seeni (sweet onion) sambol had to be one of them, and green tomato chutney was a lovely way to use up the last of the summer’s tomatoes. But what to do for the third choice? So many options!

I went with a pineapple achar (pickle), one of the new recipes (I think) in Vegan Serendib. There’s a little bit left in my fridge for me, so I’m planning on having that with fish curry and uppuma later today. Mmm…. We also have some roast chicken, and I think pineapple achar would make a great sandwich component with that.