Tinga and Platanos Machos

Before the spring break, my students informed me we were going to have a party on Saturday. And so we did. I don’t know how they managed it, but they even did the homework I gave them Friday night too.

Parties give me a chance to have the students write recipes and painlessly increase their food vocabularies.  Recipes introduce them to the imperative before they study it formally, and also introduce some two-word verbs like “cut up” and “pour out”.  On the menu this weekend was tinga, from Mexico and platanos machos from El Salvador. Tinga is pretty basic fare for this neighborhood. It is basically chicken mixed with the sauce of the chipotle pepper which has a characteristically smoky flavor. It lends itself well to potlucks, since one person can bring the chicken, one the tostadas to put them on, and others can bring salads, which are also typically eaten on tostadas. Platanos machos, literally, “masculine bananas” are plantains, a large variety of banana readily available in all the supermercados here. Here are the recipes.


2-3 lbs. chicken
1 medium onion
1 10-oz. can chile chipotle (chipotle peppper)
Oil for frying
1 t. salt


boil chicken in water 2 hours on low heat
add salt
pull chicken apart with hands
blend chipotle peppers in blender
chop onions and fry in oil
add chipotle salsa
mix with chicken
serve on tostada with sour cream

Variations:  Other students say they only boil the chicken for an hour, after some discussion they decided perhaps the heat is higher. Instead of a can of chipotle peppers, you can buy chipotle salsa already blended.

This has a hotness scale of about two firetrucks, a little bit of a bite, but the chipotle pepper is also very flavorful.

Platanos machos


plantain bananas


choose ripe plantains that are yellow or orange (green is for something else and has to be mashed before frying)

cut plantains in half then in half the long way (4 pieces)

fry in oil 15-20 minutes (about 10 minutes per side)

These were very sweet in flavor and a little bit caramelized on the edges from the frying.

See also the Nigerian recipe for plantains with chile powder.

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