It would be sacrilegious not to include a recipe for this classic and beloved dish. One of the many versions of this recipe includes the locally made soft drink Kola Román as an ingredient. The Román family came up with the bright red syrup to make this popular Colombian drink back in 1865. In addition to the soft drink, the family gave the country another national treasure: Teresita Román de Zurek, the family’s heiress, who was also a resplendent writer, host and author of “Cartagena de Indias en la Olla,” a wonderful 1960s cookbook about the food of Cartagena. Since then, the book has had more than 36 editions (the latest edition styled by yours truly.) As a student, I consulted Román de Zurek’s cookbook many times while learning about iconic dishes. This recipe is an adaptation from her book.
In a large skillet, stir together the coconut milk, water, panela, cloves, cinnamon sticks and orange juice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the liquid starts to thicken and is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
Peel the plantains and add to the skillet. Cover the skillet and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook, basting from time to time, until the plantains are soft when pierced with a knife but still hold their shape, about 18 minutes.
To serve, cut the plantains into 3 to 4 pieces each and transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with the sauce, and garnish with the orange zest.
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