Veganuary and other plant-based ideas with an African Twist.
My daughter Ileri brought 1 2/3 tubers of cassava home this last Christmas time, and by the time we got round to preparing them the cut 2/3 piece of cassava had succumbed to spoilage. Like yams and sweet potatoes, these tropical tubers are sun-loving and spoil faster in colder climes, and even quicker if they have been cut into in any way.
A lot of my food memories are embedded in childhood. Cassava and coconut being some of them, which invoke memories of us (the children) and Mama or Nana (the grandma) sitting in the “backyard”, snacking on these delicacies bought from a local street vendor. Mama sitting on a chair while we (the children) would be perched on four legged “stoods”, as the locals called them. These were crudely hand-crafted wooden stools.
Cassava is a staple grown and eaten in many African countries, and like yam, sweet potato and Irish potatoes, is a root vegetable.
I prepared the cassava chips pictured here. A quick 5 minute parboil, drain and then like any good chips throw into the fryer with sizzling hot oil.
They can be mashed, boiled and processed in similar ways to potatoes.
I love their texture, which can only be described by you trying them out! They must be peeled and boiled or cooked in some way before being okay for consuming.
A very common way of eating cassavas in Nigeria was as course granules called gari (gar-ri). These would be soaked in ice cold water and mixed with sugar (and milk if you so desired), and consumed with a spoon and a side of roasted groundnuts (peanuts). But mainly, gari is made by adding boiling water and mixing to a smooth firm dough that is served up with a favourite vegetable (Efo) or draw soup.
I particularly enjoy eating gari by hand, making scoops out of balls of gari, scooping up the soup and popping into the mouth...
Gari in a softer form is popularly served as weaning food, and a way to gently introduce infants to solid food 'Naija' (slang for Nigeria) style.
For a change, and while trying out new vegan options, why not have a go at cooking cassava, as chips or boiled, and extend your eating experience. And please don't forget to share your cassava pictures with us!
Did you know?
- Also known as manioc, yuca is a starch extracted from cassava and known as tapioca.
- Cassava is the third largest source of carbs in Africa, after rice and maize.
- Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava while Thailand is the largest exporter of cassava starch.
- 100g of cassava contains 100 calories. They are high in Vitamin C and copper rich.
Here is a vegetarian recipe using Cassava that I first tasted when my friend Renah brought it to church for a treat... Oh yum!
Cassava Cake Recipe
For the cake:
- 90ml sweetened condensed milk
- 200g cassava, grated (It can be from frozen, but thoroughly defrosted). Make sure all excess liquid is squeezed out before use.
- 90ml coconut milk
- 90ml evaporated milk
- 5 x 15ml sugar
- 3 eggs, well beaten
For the custard:
- 2 x egg yolk
- 270ml coconut milk
- 90ml evaporated milk
- 96g desiccated coconut (if you like)
In a large bowl, mix together the grated cassava, sugar, evaporated and coconut milks until well combined.
Pour into a greased square or rectangular baking pan or casserole dish and place in a preheated oven at 180C and bake for 45-60 mins till set.
While the cake is in the oven, prepare the topping by combining the egg yolks, coconut milk, evaporated milk, sugar and desiccated coconut and mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
Pour this over the baked cassava cake and bake for another 15-25 minutes or until topping is cooked and golden.
Serve and enjoy hot or cold.