Short Cardaba bananas, square and fat, are known in Barbados and much of the Eastern Caribbean is buffalo. In Guyana, they are called square water plantain, 4-corner plantain and tuk tuk. The Cardaba is grown mainly as a cooking banana. I first encountered buffalo about a decade ago and buy it regularly whenever I see it available in the market here in Barbados, which was as recent as last week on Saturday.
I have been wanting to share with you for a long time now, my experience of cooking and eating buffaloes but could not find anyone who was familiar with it. And I didn’t want to write to encourage you to try something you don’t have access to. A Guyanese friend here told me that he had only heard of a buffalo called 4 corner plantain. But this week, 2 friends on Facebook, who are prolific chefs, and big promoters of Guyanese ingredients and cuisine, told me excitedly about their love of buffet. One of them harvested a bunch of it this week from his yard! As we chatted about the ways we cook and enjoy buffalo, one thing that was clear is that it is not often found in the markets in Guyana. It is not widely grown because people have no appetite for it, they prefer regular watering.
Buffit gets its colloquial square plantain and its 4 corner name because of its shape; It is square with straight sides.
Unlike plantain which is delicious in their different stages from full to ripe, buffets are boring. However, its flawless nature, its blank canvas that absorbs flavors easily and easily; therefore, the use of herbs, spices and paste matches well when cooking a buffet. The thing that my friends and I find really excellent about buffets is its texture when cooked. Let me step back a little. One of the reasons I love green plantain is that I enjoy them cooked in a frying pan and also fried (think French Fries). However, as they cool, the cooked green plantain tends to become hard, firm. Not so with buffets, the texture when cooked no matter how prepared remains delicate. You just have to give it a try. Ask for it from your plantation or groundnut vendor. As more people ask and demand, farmers are being encouraged to grow buffalo / square plantain, whatever you want to call it. I think you are more likely to find it in one of the markets in the rural areas. Saw one of my friends at Port Mourant Market.
Speaking of markets in the country. Seriously, take a little time, or rather, make time for a nice long walk into the countryside and visit the markets, you’ll be amazed at the variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, seafood, meats , cooked foods and snacks you find and discover. Things you would never see at the markets in town. Something as simple as this – in Georgetown, you rarely see purple head shawls, only the white ones, in the rural areas, most of the chalkboards are the purple ones.
Given that buffalo is grown as a cooking banana, it is used in the Caribbean in soup, defrosted and oil down dishes similar to Guyanese Metemgee or simply boiled to eat with provisions other earths such as dry food served with salt fish or salt meats. . Cardaba banana is important to Filipino food; it is used in sweet and savory dishes. There is a large industry in the Philippines from the green processed Cardaba bananas as chips (similar to plantain chips).
Although known as a banana, buffets are rarely eaten raw. When ripe, it is fried just like we would mature ripe plantain or cooked in some way to make dessert.
Buffering has a thicker skin than plantain and when peeling the flesh is white; when cooked, the flesh is opaque. It does not produce any part of the milk that stains as plantain, especially green plantain; and it cooks much faster than plantain. Cook and use buffets the same way you would a mature green, stirring or watering plantain. Oh, it’s great for mashing, because of its tenderness when cooking. Here’s the other thing, if you love cooked green bananas, then be prepared to love buffets because it can be prepared the same way. You should also try it in salads – replace the English potatoes with a buffet.
I hope the woman I get buffalo from is usually again this week. Over here you don’t see it regularly (like weekly) and not all sellers sell it. The woman I am having is growing up.