Garri is a popular food prepared by grating cassava tubers in West Africa. It is crunchy and served as an accompaniment to numerous dishes. It is also spelled as garry and known as gari or tapioca in different parts of Africa. Apart from being eaten with stews and soups, gary can also be made into a dessert by mixing it with milk and sugar and then, consumed as a breakfast cereal.
The cassava tubers are peeled, grated finely, and then allowed to ferment for a couple of days. The bags or sacks containing the grated cassava are squeezed with the aid of weights until the entire water content is completely soaked out of it. The gari is frequently ground or pounded into a flour like consistency.
The dish is inexpensive and easy to prepare which makes it one of the most popular dishes to be consumed in Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Garri Foto is a side dish, served at parties where the cassava flour is consumed along with a fish gravy and hard boiled eggs. The okra soup is the most preferred accompaniment to gari in Cameroon. The flour or granules are also used to thicken soups and stews occasionally.
It can be stored for a long period of time and is considered to be a staple dish in many African countries. The grain has often been compared with the potato starch consumed by the Western World.
The process of grating and pounding of the cassava root is done by machines now. The procedure was dependent on human labor until the independence of Nigeria in 1972.
Garri is a part of the main meal for more than 150 million people living in Africa.
Garri: Ingredients and Preparation Overview
The dish is prepared in various degrees of consistency with each of the types meant to be consumed in a certain way. The commonest methods of preparation include:-
Roughly pounded garri is usually eaten in the dry form along with roadted peanuts and sugar. Evaporated milk may sometimes be added to the dish as well.
The medium fine extract of the cassava tuber is added to boiling water and stirred until the mixture becomes smooth. It is a preferred staple that is eaten with peanut or palm soup. Kontomire stew is a favored accompaniment to the dishin West Africa.
The finely powdered grain extracted from the cassava is cooked with soft beans in Ghana. The resultant dish is known as Yor ke Garri which is served with a dish of fried plantains.
The more expensive variety of the dish is yellow in color which is fried in palm oil. The white Garri is made by dry roasting the flour without the aid of oil. The Ghana Garri is another popular variety of the dish where the cassava tubers are not soaked in water after peeling. This makes the Ghana variety more crisp in comparison.
- Ijebu-garri- The fine powder is consumed by adding water which may be sweetened with honey or sugar.
- Eba- A kind of pastry made by soaking the grain in hot water and adding milk, coconut and cashew nuts to it.
- Utara- A stiff porridge made by mixing the gari with water which is served with stews and soups.
- Lebu- A spiced ball of the grain containing pepper and other locally available spices. It also contains palm oil which makes the ball soft. This variety is usually served with fried fishes.
- Yoo ke garri- The staple dish of cassava granules served with beans.
- Kokoro- A popular fried snack of Nigeria, it is made by combining garry, corn flour and sugar.
Garri Recipe Variations
- Farofa- This is a Brazilian dish where the cassava flour is cooked with salt, butter and bacon. It is usually used a filling for poultry based dishes.
- Poi- A Hawaiin dish that is made with taro. It is usually mixed with water and consumed in the same way as gari.
Garri: Nutritive Value
The dish is a rich source of starch and contains a high amount of dietary fiber. The fiber within the gari prevents constipation and related digestive system disorders. The accompanying stews usually provide the protein content while the cassava grain is known to contain some essential vitamins as well.
“Biocassava Plus” is a project which aims at producing cassava fortified with Vitamin A and iron in order to overcome the malnutrition problems of the garri dependant population living in sub Saharan Africa.