Maduros or Tajadas: A Latin American and Caribbean Side Dish Staple
Credit: Nuestro Stories
If you were to ask me what my last meal would consist of, undoubtedly one of the components on that plate would be tajados de platanos or maduros. These lightly fried plantain chips have seemed to cross-cultural barriers.
While the origin story of this delicious side dish seems to generally come from Cuba, the dish itself goes as far as India, where it is thought that the dish was first created.
It is thought that the dish was carried over by the Spanish to the Caribbean during the burgeoning time of colonization, and thus found its way to Cuba. Wherever it was first born, I’m just grateful it was because while the recipe itself is one of the most simplistic ones you can find, the flavor profiles you can create with it are layered and complex.
Maduros are simply ripened plantains, or platanos fried in a preferably flavorless oil until they are crisped on both sides, and have browned due to the caramelization of the natural sugars produced by the fruit. The results are both crispy around the edges with a deliciously soft center that slowly fills your mouth with delicious flavors as you chew.
Plus, they’re high in potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, so not only are you making a really tasty snack with barely any ingredients, but you’re also making a snack that has some added health benefits hidden beneath its caramelized edges.
Making maduros is pretty simple – it’s all about picking the right plantains.
Read more: Alcapurrias Are a Puerto Rican Must-Eat
How to cook maduros or tajadas
Though they look like bananas, you are not going to apply the same logic to choosing your plantains as you would a banana. For making maduros you want your plantains to be ripe. I mean ripe-ripe. You can tell a plantain is ripe by the darkness of the skin. The blacker the rind, the better the fruit. The better to fry. The better to extract the sweet sugars from.
Once you’ve got your plantains, you’re going to slice a line down the plantain lightly, with a sharp knife, from end to end. This will allow you the easiest access to peel the rind from the inner flesh of the fruit. From there, you can slice on a diagonal, or for longer slices right down the center.
After that, all you have to do is heat your oil to high heat and then drop the plantain in. Fry on either side until golden brown, or darker around the edges. From there, you can do whatever you want with them. Eat them plain. Sprinkle a little sea salt for a more salted-caramel taste. Splash chile sauce, mayo-ketchup, crema, or any manner of flavors to play around with it.
I won’t lie though. They don’t need any of it. They taste good just the way they are.
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Olivia Monahan Chicana journalist, editor, educator, and organizer in Sacramento whose sole focus is to shed light on stories on our most impacted and marginalized communities, but even more importantly, for those stories to humanize those normally left out. She is an Ida B Wells Investigative Journalism Fellow 2022 Finalist, a member of the Parenting Journalists Society, and has bylines in The Courier, The Sacramento Bee, The Americano, Submerge Magazine among others.