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Cassava, (at times spelled cassaba or cassada) also known as Yuca or Manioc, is a long and tapered starchy tuberous root that is native to South America. This root vegetable grows like a shrub that belongs to the spurge family and has a dirty brown skin that can be easily peeled off while making these recipes. The flesh of this vegetable is white to yellowish color, which is very high in carbohydrates. There are two types of the vegetable – the sweet and the bitter variety. Cyanogenic glucoside, that can be toxic if the vegetable is not cooked properly, is present in the bitter variety of the vegetable. Cassava Salad, Yuca Frita, Cassava Bibingka are some of the popular dishes of the starchy manioc.

History of Cassava Recipes

This vegetable is believed to have been cultivated almost 10,000 years ago and this tuberous root was seen growing in the lowlands of Gulf of Mexico around 6,600 BC. However, the more authentic and recent evidence comes around 1600 years ago from the Maya civilization, where this vegetable was cultivated for the preparation of various recipes of this vegetable. In fact, this vegetable was the staple food of pre-Columbians in America and the yuca was depicted in the ceramic art of the Moche people. Today, Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of this vegetable.

Culinary Uses of Manioc

Manioc has many culinary uses. It is a good substitute for potatoes in many meat and vegetable dishes. This root’s recipes include soups, stews, meat dishes, dumplings, etc. This vegetable is generally soft cooked or made into chips and flour. Tapioca is a popular byproduct of this vegetable and its flour is usually cooked like porridge in African countries, which is their common way of consuming the vegetable. Deep frying boiled or steamed pieces and seasoning them is another way to cook the vegetable. Gravies, stews and soups get their thickness from pureed or powdered manioc.

Popular Manioc Recipes of Various Cuisines

Though abundantly available in West Africa, cassava is primarily native to South America. The cuisines of both these regions have their own set of this root’s recipes, which are specific to their culture. Some popular recipes of the vegetable are –

African – The recipe of the salad is popular in this cuisine. This salad is a wholesome meal as it contains cooked meat, pomo, crayfish and dry fish along with certain spices and, most importantly, the dry sliced cassava. Fufu is another popularrecipe. This is made by pounding together manioc, rice, yam, and plantain.

American – The recipe for Yuca Frita is a popular South American recipe. This deep fried side dish is generally served sprinkled with salt. The weight conscious can also bake strips of yuca and serve in the same manner as the fried dish.Patties made from this vegetable is another popular recipe of this cuisine.

Philippines – The recipe for Pineapple Cassava Bibingka is a popular recipe of this cuisine. It is a sweet dish that is made with the grated vegetable. The cake of this vegetable is another popular recipe of the cuisine.

Nutritive Value of Cassava Recipes

This root is a rich source of starch/carbohydrates and also calcium, phosphorous and vitamin C. This root vegetable does not contain any protein or other nutrients. However, the leaves are not only rich in proteins but also in the amino acid called lysine.

Manioc Trivia

Cassava leaves are known to treat hypertension, headache and pains. In Cuba, this vegetable is used for treating irritable bowel syndrome.