Savory Plantain Pancakes


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    10 to 12

    (using ½ cup batter)

Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

I grew to love plantains in Ghana, and am especially partial to them when they are ripe (yellow) or over-ripe (black and yellow and squishy). One of my favorite ways to prepare them is as a simple savory pancake (no syrup, please). It is customarily eaten with boiled bambara groundnuts, which also grow in the northern regions of Ghana.

The first challenge is to procure ripe-to-overripe plantains. In some parts of North America one must buy green (unripe) plantains and let them ripen at home. As a rule, buy twice as many plantains as required, two or three weeks before they are needed.


  • 3 or 4 large over-ripe plantains (about pounds after peeling; about 3 cups when sliced)
  • ½ cup finely grated onion or shallots
  • 3 teaspoons grated or ground fresh ginger
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons dried ground red pepper (more or less to taste)
  • Scant teaspoon calabash nutmeg or regular nutmeg (optional)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste; optional)
  • ⅓ to ½ cup (2 ounces) rice flour or cornmeal
  • ⅓ to ½ cup (2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • About 1 cup palm oil for pan frying



Make batter

  1. Cut the ends off the plantains and slit horizontally along one side, then peel and slice them. Put the plantain slices into a large mixing bowl and mash them. Traditionally these would then be pounded in a mortar with a wooden pestle, but if you must use a blender or food processor, keep some of the mashed plantain out and add after blending the rest so there are still some pieces remaining.
  2. Stir in the onions or shallots, ginger, dried ground red pepper, nutmeg, if using, and salt.
  3. Add the rice flour (or cornmeal if you prefer) and all-purpose flour and stir. Add 1 cup of water and stir again. Let the mixture sit for 20 to 30 minutes before cooking the pancakes.

Cook pancakes

  1. Heat a heavy skillet or griddle as for regular pancakes (medium-high heat). Use a pastry brush to brush palm oil generously on the pan, then drop the batter onto the griddle using 1/3 to ½ cup batter for each pancake. Use a spoon to spread the batter into a circle shape.
  2. When the pancake is firm enough to turn without breaking, turn it over with a pancake turner, pressing the turner down firmly on the pancake to flatten it. Continue doing this every few minutes while the pancakes cook. Barbara and I like our tatale quite brown and “crusty”, but they may be fried to suit individual preference.
  3. Set the pancakes on paper towels to drain off excess oil. Avoid stacking them as you cook—spread them out to drain. Continue cooking pancakes until all batter is used, brushing fresh palm oil on the pan for each batch.

To serve

Tatale is classically eaten with Stewed Bambara Beans (Aboboe) or Bean Stew (Red-Red). When bambara beans/groundnuts are unavailable, an acceptable substitute is garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Peanuts have supplanted bambara beans/groundnuts in much of West Africa. Fresh boiled peanuts could also be used as could roasted unsalted peanuts.