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Kelewele (Spicy Fried Plantains)

Kelewele (Kele-wele) are flavorful fried plantain cubes. Simple to make, kelewele are plantain cubes, sprinkled with spices, and fried in hot oil. Kelewele are often sold by African street vendors. Originally from Ghana, kelewele have been popularized in America by several Kwanzaa books and websites.


  • 4 - 6 plantain bananas; ripe, but not past ripe, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger root

  • 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons water palm oil or vegetable oil for frying


  • Grind together grated ginger root, pepper, and salt, then mix with water.

  • In a glass bowl toss together the plantain cubes and spice mixture.

  • In a deep skillet, heat oil (just deep enough to allow plantains to float) to 350 degrees F. Fry plantains, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. (Don't try to fry them all at once; they should not touch each other while frying.)

  • Drain on absorbent paper, keep in warmed oven until all the plantains are fried.

Serve kelewele immediately. Fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, and salt seem to be the most typical combination of spices used to make kelewele. Some recipes get a little fancier and add ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, chili powder, or red pepper flakes. Some replace the water with lemon juice; others use no liquid at all and call for the plantains to be tossed in the dry spices. Letting the plantains marinate in the spice mixture for ten or twenty minutes is also recommended by some


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