Guest Post: If there’s Plantain, I Can Make it Home…’

I loved everything about Tolu’s piece – the concept and association of home.  And her poetry, her short exploration of home – a video in which a variety of people share what home means to them – is full of taste memories and is only 3: 39 minutes.

Thank you, Tolu for your beautiful contribution, for reminding me, us that homes are built – with love, comfort, care. 


….or home is where the plantain is.

The best type of plantain for dodo is ripe to almost over-ripe. It’s a fine yellow with streaks of black that gives just a little to the touch but not so black that the skin sticks to the plantain or that the colour of the plantain has started to change.

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The scale of ripe to under-ripe tips based on how much sugar my system needs and salt is a must to encourage the sweetness in the same way as cakes call for a pinch of salt.

Diagonal cuts are my go-to….

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…but I think diced dodo is better with riper plantain and works well for fried rice.

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Roasted groundnuts and very ripe plantain are also yummy …

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… as is fried plantain with fried yam where the softness of the dodo compliments the crispy of the yam. I generally can’t deal when people cut the whole stick in four so it’s bulky. That’s a non-Nigerian thing though, as is the practice in the diaspora of giving three fingers as a side which I find insulting every time. Don’t tease me.

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Dodo is a dish I can eat everyday and lately I’ve realised it’s one of my mood lifters when I’m down. I remember having a bad, long day a few months back and getting home to be surprised by some iyan and efo.

I was grateful for it, but the day was so bad I decided to save that pleasure for the next day and make dodo instead. I chose my favourite knife, cut the plantain, watched the oil bubble as the fingers dropped in and let my days wahala melt as I watched the yellow transform into a golden brown.

Wahala: perhaps of Hausa origin [1] Adulterated or pidgin English. Perhaps Of Niger-Delta (South-South Nigeria) origin. Perhaps of Arab origin (wahala, meaning a terrible mess) transmuted into Hausa, before dispersal into the Nigerian pidgin lexicon; Source – Wiktionary

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By the time the food was ready, there was a joy and a letting go in inhaling half the plate before the whole thing was done and then settling to eat the rest. That night no accompaniments were necessary. I understand now that on days when dodo is therapy, the ritual of the making is as important as the food itself.

I was creating a mini documentary on ‘What home tastes like’ (watch it here) and I started the reel with what has become a personal quote.  As someone who travels a lot to places where I know nobody, ‘If there’s plantain, I can make it home’.


Tolu Agbelusi is a Nigerian British poet, playwright, educator and lawyer. Visit her website for more information.