What is kakro?
Kakro (or kaklo) is a delicious traditional Ghanaian snack made from very ripe plantain fritters. Plantains are a staple starch in the West African cuisine and Africa is the major producer of plantains in the world. Although plantains are related to the banana family, they are starchier, mildly sweet when ripened and never eaten uncooked unlike the regular bananas.
Both ripe and unripe plantains are used in the African cooking. Plantains are either grilled, boiled, baked, steamed or fried depending on which African region the recipe is from. Generally, peeled plantains roasted over a hot charcoal are a favorite street food in Africa. Dodo, apiti or tempiagba, krakro and makemba are few of the plantain-based dishes from the African continent.
Kaklo means fried in the Ghanaian language. So a recipe name mostly has the prefix kaklo if the dish is deep-fried. For example, agbeli kaklo is a popular fritter made from grated cassava.
How to make kakro
With fewer ingredients and less cooking time, the preparation of kakro is quite simple and straightforward. The star ingredient of this dish is plantain and an important thing to consider while making kakro is to make use of an overripe plantain. Ripe plantains are soft and mushy and yellow in color like a banana.
Hence leftover plantains that have become black in color are best to make kakro. If ripe plantains are not readily available in the markets, you can also ripen a green plantain by placing it in a brown paper bag. Depending on the climatic conditions of your region it might take a week or more to ripen.
Test your knowledge about Ghanaian cuisine
Find out how much you know about Ghanaian recipes, local ingredients, preparation methods and the history behind this delicious West African cuisine.
In West African cuisine, several sweetmeats are prepared using fermented/unfermented corn dough. Along with it, mashed plantain, cassava, or yam is added and deep fried fritters are made. Originally, krakro recipes were also made using mashed ripe plantains and unfermented corn/maize dough instead of normal flour.
Kakro is also traditionally made using a special Ghanaian earthenware pot called the asanka, which is very similar to mortar and pestle. The specialty of this grinding pot is that it uses a wooden pestle and has a shallow and wide mortar. This utensil is especially used to make dishes like fufu that require pounding of yam, plantain or cassava.
Kaklo is enjoyed as a snack or as a light meal and is often accompanied by a stew or sauce. Krakro along with a spicy black-eyed bean stew, red red and palm oil, is a popular meal of the Ghanaian workers as it provides energy sustainable throughout the day. Sometimes, it is served as an appetizer or the locals also enjoy krakro as a street food.
Similar to kakro, there are various versions of sweet plantain balls/donuts in other cuisines as well. For example, bolitas de Maduros (Dominican Republic) is similar to kakro with stuffed cheese filling inside and unniyappam (India) is made with mashed ripe banana or plantain and whole-wheat flour.
Plantain recipes around the world
Plantain recipes are quite common around the world and especially in the African cuisine. The largest consumers of plantains are Africans, South East Asians and Latin Americans. Both raw and ripe plantains are used in cooking.
Ghana’s most popular delicacy is a charcoal roasted plantain dish called kofi brokeman.
Ripe plantains are used to make plantain pancakes known as tatale.
Another favored Ghanaian street food, kelewele also known as aloco, in other African regions is a deep-fried spicy donut made with ripe plantains.
Fried plantains or plantain fritters are one of the favorite ways to make use of plantains. They are mostly relished as teatime snacks or as a starter.
Tostones (or patacones) are twice fried plantain slices, which are relished in the Latin American countries.
In India, raw plantains are used to make spicy fritters known as nenthirankai chips or simply known as banana chips. Even though the name is confusing, it is made with the Indian plantain variety known as nenthirankai. Thinly sliced plantains are deep fried in oil, slightly coated with chili powder and salt. There is also a sweet variety known as sarkara varatti, which, is made with ripe plantains and jaggery.
Another common teatime snack in South India (Kerala), very similar to krakro is pazhampori. Ripe plantains are coated in flour batter and then deep-fried in oil.
In Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Java and Sumatra pisang goreng is well liked. In Thailand, the same dish is known as kluay kaek.
- 4 plantains (very ripe)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 small onion , finely grated
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
- Peel the plantains and place them in a bowl.
- Mash them with a fork until obtaining a lumpy mixture.
- Add the onion, ginger, salt, cayenne pepper and mix well with a spatula.
- Add the flour and mix well.
- In a deep skillet, heat a large volume of oil over medium heat.
- Using a spoon, take some of the dough and dip in hot oil.
- Fry on both sides until golden brown.
- Place kakro as you go on a sheet of paper towel to remove excess oil.
- Serve hot or warm.