Matoke, also known as Matooke or Ibitoke (in Rwanda), is a variety of starchy banana, commonly referred to as cooking bananas. The fruit is harvested green and then cooked and often mashed or pounded into a meal. In Uganda it is steam-cooked and the mashed meal is one of the national dishes of the country.
The medium-sized green fruits, which are of a specific group of banana, the East African Highland bananas (AAA-EAH), are locally known as matoke. Bananas/plantains were a common staple crop around the Lake Victoria region of Uganda, and in the West and Kilimanjaro regions of Tanzania.
Matoke are peeled using a knife, wrapped in the plant's leaves (or plastic bags) and set in a cooking pot (sufuria: Swahili) atop the banana tree stalks. The pot is then placed on a charcoal or wood fire and the matoke is steamed for a couple of hours, water is poured into the bottom of the cooking pot multiple times. The stalks in the bottom of the pot serve to keep the leaf-wrapped fruits above the level of the hot water. While uncooked, the matoke is white and fairly hard; cooking turns it soft and yellow. The matoke is then mashed while still wrapped in the leaves or bags and often served on a fresh banana leaf. It is typically eaten with a sauce made of vegetables, ground peanut, or some type of meat (goat or beef).
In Bukoba, Tanzania, matoke (or matooke) are cooked with meat or smoked catfish, and beans or groundnuts. This method eliminates the need for preparing a separate sauce. In this recipe, the matoke are not mashed. Up until the early 1980s, this was the most common meal in Bukoba and would be eaten year round.
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