Beef Plantain Roast


Photographs by Sebastian John

Work and some photo commitments took me off the kitchen for couple of days. While at the grocery store today, I spotted some plantains and decided to make the beef plantain roast, a traditional Kerala dish. I also got some yucca (cassava or tapioca) to make another dish, which I will explain later. Unripe plantains are used as vegetables and the ripe ones can be consumed as fruit. Having a neutral taste, the plantain takes on the flavor of the broth that it is cooked in, and hence are a great accompaniment to cook with beef.

The dish is my dad’s favorite one, and it can be spotted in my parent’s kitchen very frequently. Though essentially it can be considered as a side dish to be served with rice or flatbreads, my dad (and sometimes I too) eat as “snack”. Somehow I have enjoyed this dish very much in the late afternoons with a cup of steaming black coffee sweetened with jaggery or as we say in Kerala “kattan kappi”.

Though beef is the second main ingredient in the dish, it is just a sidekick. The main purpose of beef is to flavor the plantain. The ratio of plantain to beef pieces in the dish is about 5:1. Again, this is no rule. For beef lovers the ratios can go down!!

(The yucca pictures in this post are for another dish. It is a common practice in Kerala to boil yucca along with beef so that it gets the flavorings. I will explain the dish in another post.)


1. 2 unripe plantains
2. 1/2 pound beef (chuck roast)
3. 1 medium onion chopped fine
4. 1 tablespoon ginger (can be adjusted to personal tastes)
5. 4-5 thai green chillies
6. Salt to taste
7. Oil
8. 1 to 2 cup boiling water

For tempering
1. 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
2. 2-3 cloves of garlic
3. 1 sprig curry leaves
4. 1 teaspoon paprika
5. Oil


Yucca (left); plantains (right)

Sear the beef along with onions, ginger and green chillies for about 5- 8 minutes. Add one cup of hot water (avoid adding cold water), add salt and bring it to boil. Cover and simmer for about one hour till the beef is nearly cooked.


Add the cut plantains and continue cooking till the plantains are cooked and beef becomes very tender. The plantains will turn into mush if cooked beyond the requisite time. Remove pot from heat.

Add oil to a skillet, and when hot add the chopped shallots, crushed cloves of garlic and fry them till shallots turn golden brown. Add curry leaves and paprika and fry for another 30 seconds. Transfer the beef and plantains into the skillet and stir to coast the pieces with the friend shallots and seasonings.

Plate and serve.

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