You will find a variety of countries represented in the international aisle of your supermarket, for example, those bags of ground cassava flour and curry paste are international recipe powerhouses perfect for making Gari.
Just a cup of cassava flour and a tablespoon of curry paste, staples in the international aisle of any a supermarket can add a potent, exotic flavor to many dishes. Gari is a roasted grain of the cassava tuber and is a major product in rural and urban areas of Africa.
Cassava belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family, which is known for plants with milky sap and includes plants like poinsettias and cotton. Many species contain milky latex, and some are useful as a source of oil or wax. Cassava is mostly grown on three continents extensively, Africa below the Sahara desert, tropical South America and Southeast Asia.
About half of the world production of cassava is in Africa. Cassava is drought tolerant and cultivated in around 40 African countries, stretching through a wide belt from Madagascar in the Southeast to Senegal and to Cape Verde in the Northwest.
Around 70% of Africa's cassava is harvested in Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania. Throughout the forest and transition zones of Africa, cassava is either a primary staple or a secondary food staple.
Farmers in Africa grow several cassava varieties. There are countless local cassava varieties in six counties, namely the Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda grouped into the bitter and the sweet varieties.
In the roots, cassava is categorized as either sweet or bitter, indicating the toxic levels of cyanogenic glycosides. Sweet cultivars can produce very tiny amounts, while bitter ones may produce more than 50 times more. Cyanogenic glycosides are natural plant toxins that are present in several plants, most of which are consumed by humans.
Bitter cassavas are toxic until extensively processed to remove the poisonous hydrocyanic acid. The sweet varieties are grown more extensively in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Uganda while the bitter varieties are more common in the Congo, Nigeria, and Tanzania.
The roots are not eaten fresh but peeled then steamed, fried or roasted when fresh or fermented in order to diminish the contents of poisonous cyanogenic glycosides, the peel has a higher concentration than the interior. All plant parts of the cassava plant contains cyanogenic glycosides with the leaves having the highest concentrations.
Maize is Africa's most important food crop; cassava is Africa's second most important food staple in terms of per capita calories consumed. Cassava is a major source of calories for millions of African people.
In some countries, cassava is consumed daily and sometimes more than once a day. In the Congo, cassava contributes more than 1,000 calories per person per day to the average diet and many families eat cassava for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Did you know?
A typical curry paste contains many complex ingredients, including garlic and shallot, galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime peel. Just a spoonful or two of curry paste infuses countless recipes with an international flavor.
Golden brown Curry Gari Fritters are a favorite recipe of Western Africa made with ground cassava flour, hot curry paste and spices fried into delicious snacks.
|Gari fritters made with cassava flour and curry seasonings|
Cassava and Curry Gari Fritters
2 cups cassava flour
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 - 1/3 cups water
1-2 cups oil for frying
In a large frying pan heat vegetable oil. Add all ingredients, mix well and form small fritters, fry until golden brown about 3 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with extra salt or curry powder before serving.