Gonja is the local name for the cooking banana plantain in Uganda. The plantain is mostly roasted or deep-fried as it starts to ripen. A banana in English most often means the yellow fruit we eat while ripe. In Uganda, different varieties of bananas are differentiated in the name. The yellow big banana eaten as fruit is called Bogoya. Another variety of small baby yellow bananas is called ndisi. The banana that is cooked and eaten while green is called matooke. You can check out my recipe on how to cook matooke. The banana that is roasted or deep-fried when ripe but not cooked is called gonja, and in this write up we are going to learn how to make Ugandan Gonja crips.
Gonja / plantain
The gonja banana is longer than the green matooke. It has a sweet taste compared to matooke which has a mild taste. A cluster of Gonja costs from around Uganda Shilling sh1000and will vary according to the size and quality in markets around Kampala. Choosing a ripe or partially ripe banana depends on the kind of snack and your preference. Gonjas are a very high source of beta-carotene, calcium, ascorbic acid and vitamin K.
OTHER GONJA RECIPES
You can be creative with your Gonja and can come up with as many recipes as possible. Here are some of the commonly made and commercial Gona recipes in Uganda.
Ripe or half-ripe gonjas are peeled and placed on a grilling mesh on a charcoal stove. You roast the gonja and turn them over constantly until they become golden brown and ready. Moderate heat is a prerequisite for this recipe.
Oven grilled Gonja
In this recipe, Ggonja is wrapped in foil paper, and grilled in an oven at moderate temperature. It is served as a snack or side dish during meals.
Steamed Gonjayou can have your ripe gonja steamed in banana leaves and eaten as a side dish. In this recipe, the tips of the Gonja are cut off and steamed without peeling them. The traditional way of steaming is by placing and covering the plantain the plant’s leaves often called banana leaves and before cooking them.
Ripe Gonja can be cut into half or left whole deep-fried. This is most often served as a snack or a side dish at meals. Ripe gonja can also be coated with eggs and breadcrumbs and deep-fried to make a tasty side dish.
A Roadside delicacy
Gonja is commonly served all year round in Uganda with the most common form being the charcoal-broiled/roasted. A start-up business in the sector requires little savings and investment to set up. The basic needs are a charcoal stove, a grill and the ganja to roast. Three small roasted pieces of Gonja are sold at Uganda shillings 1000. You get two Gonjas when they are a bit bigger in size from the roadside. It is always a better deal to buy your own gonjas from the market and make your favourite recipes. In this case, it is advisable to buy unripe ones and let them ripen at home as you consume them.
Ingredients for making Uganda Gonja Crisps
1 cluster of green plantains
2 cups of Vegetable cooking oil
How to make Ugandan Gonja Crisps Step by Step
Cut off the ends/ tips of each green plantain
Using a sharp knife Peel the green cover off the plantains. Peel lightly to avoid damaging the core of the plantain.
Cut plantains into half vertically and start making 1/8 inch thick slices out of the halves.
Pour the vegetable cooking oil into a large and deep cast-iron skillet. Set it over a medium to a high source of heat. Heat the oil until the oil reaches 175°C.
Add the plantain slices into the skillet in batches to avoid overcrowding and sticking together. Fry and turn over the plantain slices until golden brown all over. Season them right away with salt. Repeat the process with the remaining bathes of plantain slices.
Serve hot or cold with your favourite drink.