Culinary Tour 2010 – South of the Border: (8) Haiti – Beignets (Sweet Banana Fritters)

Next stop of our Culinary Tour is Haiti. Haitian cuisine is a mixture of French, African, Levantine and Taíno Amerindian cuisine. For me, it was hard to decide what to cook because there are so many dishes that sound really appealing to me:

  • Fish Croquettes (Kwokèt Pwason; Croquettes de Poisson)
  • Chicken Quiche (Tat Poulè; Tarte Au Poulet)
  • Coconut Tartlets (Kokonèt; Tartelettes à La Noix de Coco)
  • Coconut Pudding (Blan Manje; Blanc-Manger au Coco)
  • Sweet Banana Fritters (Benyen; Beignets de Carnaval)

and many, many more… There is a really interesting (so it seems) cookbook out there that covers Haitian cuisine: “Fine Haitian Cuisine” by Mona Cassion Menager. I’m kind of intrigued to buy it because I liked so many recipe titles that I could see via Google book search (UPDATE: I just ordered the book and can’t wait to try all those yummy recipes).

My 3 kids, the hubby and I have a sweet tooth, so I decided to make Sweet Banana Fritters.  This is a dessert Haitians enjoy during the Carnaval. I was afraid of making these because the recipe involves deep-frying – I’ve never deep-fried  anything before and I’m really scared of it. But I thought this was a good time to take up the challenge!

Sweet Banana Fritters

(adapted from Fine Haitian Cuisine – you can find the recipe here on page 364)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 medium, well-ripened bananas
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • granulated or powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

  1. Mix flour, baking soda and cinnamon.
  2. In a second bowl, mix mashed bananas, milk and sugar.
  3. Combine flour mixture and banana mixture.
  4. Heat oil in a medium pan over medium high setting. Drop the batter by tablespoons in hot oil. Fry until golden, about 1 minute for each side.
  5. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon. Squeeze the oil out by gently pressing them on the slotted spoon with the back of a tablespoon.
  6. Drain on paper towels.
  7. Dust with sugar and serve warm.

Well, yeah, I have to admit I chickened out of the whole deep-frying. In my defense, I have to say that I did drop 2 tablespoons of batter in the hot oil, but for whatever reason it wouldn’t work. The batter turned black within seconds. Another problem was that the batter was really thin, so it wouldn’t keep the form. OK, I gave up on the deep-frying then, took out my pan and shallow-fried them. That wasn’t easy either because I wasn’t able to nicely flop the “pancakes”. The texture was just too fluffy. Afterwards, I found a Haitian recipe for banana fritters that uses eggs in the batter. I guess, that would have helped with my texture problem. Oops, I just looked at the above picture with all the ingredients and realized there was only 1/4 cup of flour. What? The recipe calls for 1 whole cup. DUH!!!  OK, I ‘ll definitely make them again with the correct amount of flour to see if the deep-frying works out then.  Btw, I ate my banana fritter pancakes with maple syrup. This is probably not traditionally Haitian, but I thought they tasted DIVINE!!!! See you in Cuba next week – I already know what I want to make for our journey there ;-).

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As everyone knows, in January 2010 Haiti was struck by a major earthquake where 230.000 people died. Lauren, a Canadian teen I know from the Daring Bakers, put much time and effort into making an e-book with recipes other bloggers sent her, and she donates all proceeds from selling the e-book to the Canadian Red Cross which will use the funds to help the Haitian population. If you’re interested in this project, follow this link and buy her e-book which will cost as much as you want it to cost, with a bare minimum of $10.

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14 responses to “Culinary Tour 2010 – South of the Border: (8) Haiti – Beignets (Sweet Banana Fritters)

  1. I love cooking with bananas! Have you ever tried Banana Crisp? So good and so easy to make!

  2. Thank you for bringing the banana fritters to the tour. They, of course, sound yummy.

    Thanks also for the info on A Hand for Haiti.

  3. Don’t you hate it when you read the recipe wrong? But, as long as they tasted good…. Cuba next? That should be fun, too!

  4. This is soooooo good.Perfect for the culinary tour.I am so glad to be here,i got to know abt the culinary tour.Wud love to participate:).

  5. I might try this too–I may make them pancake style as well–the one thing I don’t want to do is deep-fat frying. Not for dietary reasons, but all that HOT oil–perhaps too many jokes from my dad about getting boiled in oil.

    Boston has a very large Haitian community, so maybe the maple syrup addition could be considered an expat community fusion of cultures!

  6. Oooh, those sound yummy! So sad when you discover you’ve misread a recipe, but it looks like they tasted great anyway! =)

  7. We also have banana fritters in Singapore and it is a all time local favourite snack. :)

  8. Love your tour series, especially this one as it is for a good cause, the fritters look mouth :)

  9. Banana fritters sound scrumptious! I would love to make these too, I know my daughter would really love them!

  10. I would call them divine too….with maple syrup. My pancakes are almost always accompanied by bananas and the old maple….yum

  11. I’m Haitian, and those don’t quite look like what we’re used to eating. In fact, I usually make these at home, and they look more like plantains than what you have. Try these ingredients for every three bananas:

    * 1 tbsp flour
    * 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
    * 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    * 1 tbsp sugar
    * 1/8 tsp baking soda
    * sugar for topping (optional)

    The batter should be fairly thin, as should the benyen (beignets). They shouldn’t be pancake-like.

    But great try! Nice to see appreciation for our food :)

    • Thanks for the recipe. I know they don’t look Haitian, I misread the recipe and didn’t use enough flour. And the whole deep-frying wouldn’t work for me, that’s why I tried the pancake version. But I’ll try your recipe and see if it works out better! ;-)

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