This fresh, citrusy spin on classic caramelised banana works surprisingly well. Bananas are cooked Benin-style in orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon, making for a tasty porridge topping or served with ice-cream as a sweet treat.
Country Number 18: Benin
Another day, another African cuisine to tackle in the kitchen. Given that there are 54 countries that make up the continent, we are going to become very familiar with the cuisine of Africa by the end of our around-the-world cooking challenge. We have already noticed the reoccurring presence of certain ingredients, such as bananas and peanuts, in the African cuisines we have cooked from. We have also noticed many similar dishes between the nations. It is certainly going to be a mission finding a unique vegetarian dish to make from all 54 African countries, but we are more than up for the challenge!
History of Beninese Cuisine
Benin is a West-African nation on the northern coast of Gulf of Guinea. The country was briefly colonised by the French in the late 1800s. As such, Beninese cuisine has been influenced by the French. You can see this through many of the traditional recipes that have a unique French flair to them.
Beninese cuisine is known to be quite flavourful, utilising many fresh ingredients as well as a variety of sauces. Corn and couscous are staples in the Beninese diet, as are rice, beans, yams and tomatoes. Benin has a lot of local produce, particularly fruit. Oranges, bananas, kiwifuit, pineapple and avocados are all very common.
In terms of meat, fish, chicken, beef, pork, goat and even bush rat are consumed throughout the country. However, due to the expensive cost of meat, dishes tend to be light on meat and heavy on vegetable fat such as palm oil. Like many places in Africa, most dishes are served with either tomato or peanut based sauces. Interestingly, cheese also features in some Beninese dishes, which is fairly unique for an African nation. Wagassi is a cow’s milk cheese from northern Benin that is particularly popular.
Although meals in Benin may be light in meat, most traditional dishes still feature meat or fish in one form or another. Therefore, strictly vegetarian dishes are a little harder to come by.
Popular Beninese Vegetarian Dishes
- Kuli-kuli- The national dish of Benin, this simple dish consists of ground peanuts that are shaped, deep-fried and seasoned with spices. They are particularly important for providing nutrition to the poor, but are also a popular snack throughout the country.
- Massa– Benin’s version of a pancake, made with millet and rice flour. Massa can be served sweet or savoury.
- Atassi– a common dish made from a mixture of rice and black-eyed beans, often seasoned with fried tomatoes and hot chilis.
- Toubani– Another type of savoury pancake made from bean flour or cassava flour. It is consumed when warm and is often accompanied by dried peppers and oil.
- Yovo doko– a typical street food in Benin, these sweet fritters are made of flour, water, yeast, and sugar and are deep fried to be golden on the outside and soft on the inside. The dough is deep-fried until a golden crust develops on the exterior, while the inside remains soft and tender.
- Wagassi– a cow’s milk cheese from northern Benin, characterised by its mild flavour and a red rind.
Vegetarian rating of Beninese Cuisine:
Making orange caramelised banana
During our research of Beninese cuisine, recipes for bananas in orange sauce kept popping up. Given that none of the savoury vegetarian options for Benin were looking particularly promising, we decided we’d give this sweet treat a go. Besides from storage in a fruit bowl, oranges and bananas are not two fruits that we would think to put together. We were curious to see how this sweet and citrusy flavour combination would go.
We are big fans of caramelised bananas, and have them quite frequently as part of our various breakfast creations. However, we normally caramelise our bananas by sprinkling them with coconut sugar and frying them in coconut oil. It was quite fun to try out a new technique for making caramelised bananas. In this recipe, you make a sweet orange syrup using orange juice, lemon juice and some brown sugar. Once the syrup has reduced down, you add the bananas to the pan and let them soften.
The result is really interesting. The sweetness of the banana still shines through, but with a light, fresh, citrusy taste to it. These caramelized bananas in orange sauce are pretty versatile in what you can use them for. As they do have a unique flavour profile, we’d recommend keeping whatever you pair them with pretty simple. For instance, if you have them with porridge, don’t go too crazy with adding other strong flavours. If you serve them with ice-cream, make sure it is vanilla flavour.
How to make caramelised banana
These caramelised bananas in orange sauce are extremely easy to make and take about 20 minutes all up, with most of that being cooking time. If you make the porridge to go alongside, you can cook this at the same time as the bananas.
- Combine ingredients for orange syrup in frying pan and heat for 12 minutes or until reduced
- If you are making porridge, put all ingredients in saucepan and cook at same time
- Add bananas to orange syrup and cook for a few minutes each side
- Serve bananas immediately with syrup (either on porridge or on their own)
Ingredient notes for caramelised banana
- Bananas- For this recipe, we’d recommend you use ripe baby bananas. They are an ideal portion size for serving whole and are lovely and sweet when ripe. However, if you can only find regular bananas, they will still work perfectly well.
- Oranges– We used freshly squeezed oranges for this recipe, but you can also sub for 1/4 cup of orange juice.
Serving suggestions for caramelised banana in orange sauce
We served our caramelised bananas in orange sauce on top of creamy porridge with coconut yogurt, nut butter, coconut flakes and orange slices. You could also serve them with yogurt and granola for another breakfast option. They would also work nicely as a dessert, served with simple vanilla ice-cream or cream.
Other breakfast dishes to try
- Spiced Coconut Porridge (Cocada Amerla)- Angola
- Layered Chia Pudding with Rose & Pistachio (Mahalabia)- Bahrain
Orange Caramelised Banana Porridge
- 2 small bananas (peeled)
- 2 oranges (juiced)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2/3 cup rolled oats
- 1 1/3 cup water/ non-dairy milk
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
To Top: (optional)
- Nut butter
- Coconut yogurt
- Coconut flakes
- Orange Slices
To make caramelised bananas:
- In a large frying pan, heat orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon over low heat for about 12 minutes or until mixture thickens to a syrup.
- Add peeled bananas into pan. Cook each side for a few minutes, ensuring the bananas get fully coated with the orange syrup.
- Serve immediately with remaining syrup on top (on top of porridge, with ice cream or on their own).
To make porridge:
- Heat all porridge ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently for about 10 minutes or until porridge is thick and creamy. Top with caramelised banana and other desired toppings.
Did you make this recipe? We’d love to know! Tell us how it went in the comments below or tag us (@gourmetvegetarians) in your photos on Instagram.
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