The Nigeria Go-Get Garri Grits: Life-Saver Cassava!

Cassava is sold in every market stall in Nigeria, it is one of the first, easy and cheapest staple foods one sees in all the market places. Cassava is called “Rogo” in Hausa and also known as “Yuca” for others which is a root tuber that is refer to as the drought, war, and famine crop grown in any condition such as challenging situations of dry soils, with very low fertility;  harvested at any season providing food in times of difficulties. Cassava is processed into variety of products such as Garri which is a fried cassava granules or grits, “fufu” or “akpu” which is a popular staple food in Nigeria and a well-loved swallow of the Igbo people; Fufu is cassava dough and “lafun” is the Yoruba fermented cassava flour and the cassava starch is popularly called Tapioca. Cassava flakes are called wet cassava or “bobozee or Abacha Mmiri” which is eaten with coconuts, products of cassava includes chips, snacks, bread, some Nigerians are known to simply boil the cassava tubers and serve it with chili pepper, spices, or sauces. Garri recipes are as follows, kwandon garri, soaked garri, garri biscuits, garri pancakes and many more.

The story of cassava is never complete without the mention of Garri, one of the major and most popular quick meals of Nigerians. Garri is a sustainable meal, having been tagged 24 hours for years; meaning that a meal of eba can last one for hours without needing another meal for up to 24hrs, Garri is a life-saver of a sort; an emergency meal for when one is broke and hungry, while others prefer drinking it with some ice cubes on a hot sunny day; as a soothingly refreshing and cooling meal. Garri is so versatile that it has many ways in which it is served and included in daily diet.

Garri Processing:-
Cassava is the source of Garri, to make the Garri granules or grits as also popularly called Garri flakes is not as easy as it seems: Cassava tubers are harvested fresh from the farms, then peeled; wash the peeled cassava tubers with lots of water to remove sand, dirt, and other particles. This stage is crucial and very important in producing a healthy and clean Garri, to also avoid sandy Garri because after this wash no more washing is done until the final product. Cut the root tubers into small sizes or crush for ease in milling and to obtain even cassava grits, then take to the mill and ground into a paste. Packed into bags, tied the bags, and keep undisturbed for days to ferment; the fermentation of Garri takes three to five days depending on how bland or sour the taste of Garri will turn out. While fermenting the cassava juice drips and is squeezed out in order to reduce the cassava starch which only leaves the cassava grits. On the final day, untie the bags, spread out the Garri grits to dry; when dried use a wide fine sieve to remove the fine cassava flour from the Garri grits.
Frying the Garri is done by placing a large and very wide pan on low heat, and frying in small quantities until crispy dried. The dried cassava is then poured into it and spread to cover every inch of the frying pan. Dry roast or dry fry; the stirring of the Garri is done using a wide and flat plate, to constantly move it around for even distribution of heat, to avoid burning. Stir constantly until completely dry and well roasted in the hot pan but not burnt and the final products are called Garri flakes, Garri granules, or Garri grits by many. The color is cream-white with a sour taste depending on the duration of the fermentation process. Remove the fried Garri from the heat, spread out to air, and cool very well to avoid mold forming during storage. Spread out and dry for the last time after fry toasting in a clean airy place until well dried to avoid moisture and the formation of mold.
Pack in bags or sacks for storage and sale or an airtight container for use and consumption at home.

The Types Of Garri In Nigeria:- The drinking of Garri is a popular meal among Nigerians, highly cherished while some people prefer the very sour Garri called Ijebu Garri, others go for the white or yellow Garri which are not so sour but mild sour or bland in taste.
The Ijebu Garri is creamy in color and much more smooth in texture than the others and the processing takes a longer fermentation day about one week. The fermentation of Garri depends on how long the crushed cassava is allowed to rest undisturbed on an elevated rack, the less toxic and more sourness the fried Garri turns to; the reason why it is highly sour when soaked in water has an acidic sharp taste, and a tartness that slaps all corners of the taste buds on drinking it.
The white garri is white in color, and the taste of it depends on the duration of fermentation which is mostly influenced by what the garri will be used for. The Garri for soaking takes longer fermentation days than the Garri for eba mold that is eaten with soup as swallows which does not require the sourness, but a bland neutral taste; the higher the starch load of the Garri the better for it to be used in making “eba” because it pulls together to form a sticky starchy mold that is perfect for a smooth swallow.
The yellow garri is prepared with the yellow cassava and for those without the yellow cassava; it is artificially made by adding palm oil during the frying process to obtain the beautiful yellow color. The addition of palm oil gives it more nutrients and its natural vitamin D makes it highly nutritious than the other Garri types. 

Drinking Soaked Garri:- A popular traditional cereal loved by many; soaking Garri is no longer seen as a students’ meal because Garri drinking is dear to the heart of every true Nigeria, on a hot day after a sweaty walk under the scorching desert sun of northern Nigeria. Garri is added to chilled water, and eaten with a spoon but a lot of rural dwellers just scoop the soaked Garri with their fingers to chew. Drinking soaked Garri comes in a variety of ways among which are the following; a measurement of Garri according to ones appetite is taken but always remember that on soaking the Garri it immediately doubles in quantity. A half-cup measure of Garri will swell and fill up the cup.
Place some Garri grits into a cereal bowl, add enough water to cover it, stir using a tablespoon and then allow to rest and settle for just a few seconds. Strain out the floating fibers and particles on the top, then repeat twice to obtain a clean soaked Garri.
Add enough water for soaking and drinking according to one’s taste, and choice of the Garri serving style which also depends on dietary needs.
Sweetener of choice is added to the soaked Garri, such as sugar, and salt; while others prefer to soak Garri with chilled water with no sugar no salt. Garri can also be chewed in handfuls, straight out of the pack because it has been processed and roasted before packaging. Garri for added nutrients, milk is added to give it a creamy white sweet taste. A soaked Garri with a crunchy feel and taste goes very well with roasted peanuts, groundnuts, coconut, almond, kulikuli (groundnut fried paste), tiger nuts, or any other nuts to add more deliciousness to it. Garri in milk is so elegantly exotic.

Garri with added loads of protein is by serving the soaked Garri with the following side dishes, fried, roasted, grilled or smoked meat, fish, suya-barbecue stick meat, killishi-dried and roasted beef, just to put more deliciousness and life into a simple meal. 
Garri soaked in water can easily be served with bean cakes called Akara, or Moimoi for extra fiber and much more energy. Serving it with the one-pot black-eye beans porridge is another tasty experience altogether but others still love to just dive into the hot bowl of beans with a sprinkling of the Garri on it, fold it in, to mix and it immediately thickens. Slices of banana and avocado pear are for varieties added for more vitamins, which is so delicious and totally filling; Garri in milk, sweeten and serve with avocado will blow your mind, a rich creaminess of milk and avocado experience.

Garri Eba Swallow:-
Garri that is cooked in hot water to form a solid mass for swallowing is so much in demand now and it is among the most expensive forms of swallow today; a unique way to serve Garri for a heavy meal or dinner meal is by cooking the Garri in hot boiling water.
Boil water and then gradually stir-in the Garri by turning it all around constantly until it forms a smooth mold free of lumps. Cover and allow to steamed up; using a spatula fold the cooked Garri and turn until soft and easy to swallow. While others will go further by pounding it in a mortar with a pestle to really soften fast.
Scoop and mold according to one’s fancy or flatten with a rolling pin to form a log shape.
A major staple meal known as swallow “eba” is served with any favorite soup of one’s choice, to eat just cut a small easy to swallow ball, roll it in the soup and pick it up with some of the soup and meat to eat, chew and swallow. Absolutely delicious with egusi soup, okro, ogbono, vegetable soups, bitter-leaf soup, or stews. Yummy-Yum-Yum.

Kwandon Garin Kwaki Or Garin Rogo:- The northeast of Nigeria has a great and superb recipe made of garri grits and cassava flours for bread recipes, snacks, swallows, and washing starch for laundry. A meal for most hungry students and others, who desire a different taste.
Recipe ingredients:-
Garri grits.
Palm oil.
Salt and seasoning cubes.
Local spices and chili.
Chopped onions.
Chopped scotch bonnets.
Tomatoes slices.
Kulikuli paste or groundnut paste.

Recipe Steps:-
Sprinkle Garri with a little water, mix it in properly to absorb in well and to coat all over. Cover and allow to soften.
Using a fork or a perforated spoon, turn mixture all around until light and fluffy. Then add in the salt, spices, groundnut paste or kulikuli for added nutrients and richness. Also add chopped onions, tomatoes, scotch bonnets, and a drizzle of palm oil.
Combine all added ingredients well. Taste for seasoning and adjust according to taste. Serve as a complete meal for lunch or just as snack.

Cassava Pancakes Called Wainar Rogo:-
Recipe ingredients:-
Boiled cassava.
Vegetable oil.
Minced meat.
Onions, scotch bonnets, salt and seasoning cubes.

Recipe steps:-
Peel and boil cassava roots tubers until very tender and soft. Remove and place in a mortar pound with a pestle until crumbling soft; Scoop and place in a mixing bowl.
Then add chopped onions, pepper, seasoning cubes and salt. Mix and combine well and fry as pancakes in non-stick frying pans on low heat.
The second step:- This method requires the cassava flour; sieve the cassava flour, add salt, seasoning cubes, yeast, and hot water.
Mix to a paste and dropping consistency, add minced meat, and beat the mixture well to combine.
Place a frying pan on low heat, add vegetable oil, sauté onion slices.
Scoop the mixture and flatten with a plate or rolling pin, gently pick up and place in the frying pan and fry until golden brown and turn the other side until cook. Better still fry batter mixture just as for pancakes. Best for breakfast with tea, juice, and other beverages.

Cassava flakes are known as Abacha Mmiri or wet cassava:- A traditional treat loved by Nigerians especially the Igbo people of southern Nigeria. A snack appetizer used for various recipes such as African salad, tapioca. An on the go handy snack.

Recipe Ingredients:-
The tiny cassava root tubers.
Roasted groundnut or peanuts.
Palm kernel.

Recipe Steps:-
Peel and wash cassava tubers, the tiny smaller tubers are the best to use. Do not go for the big ones; goes soft and crumbling on cooking while the smaller pieces are much more flexible.
Cut each piece into two equal parts, wash and put the cassava into pot, cover with enough water and place on medium heat to cook.
Remove from heat, strain water and allow to cool. With a sharp knife, place on a cutting board; then slice into thin flat vertical pieces, remove the fiber in the middle root tubers.
Place all sliced cassava in water and soak for a day about 24 hours or soak overnight.
Rinse the next day severally to remove the sour taste, sweet and the slimy texture. Change into clean water often, wash until the wet cassava taste bland.
Soak again in water to preserve wetness and keep in the refrigerator for use when needed.
Serve with coconut slices, crushed palm kernel, roasted groundnuts or peanuts.

Cassava Flour Swallow Is Tuwon Rogo In Hausa:-
The cassava root tuber is called rogo in hausa and it is sold in raw, dried roots or milled into flour called garin rogo; if prefer just buy the raw cassava dry and process into flour or buy the ready packaged cassava flour. It is used also for preparing the popular Nigeria swallow called Akpu, or fufu. 
Sieve the cassava flour to remove chaff and fiber. Measure out the quantity that is required for the swallow, place it in a large bowl and sprinkle enough water over it to mold into a dough. Divide the dough of the cassava flour into four equal parts.
Put water to boil and gently place the cassava dough into the boiling, steam on low heat for 15 minutes until molds start to crack.
Carefully remove from the boiling water and place all into a mortar, without the liquid only the boiled molds, pound with the pestle just as one will pound yam. As soon as it softens and starts to come together, scoop into molds in four equal parts and return into the cooking pot again and boil for five more minutes after which the mold will soften further and get cooked.
Remove from heat and return the cooked mold into the mortar and pound it again for the second time, check for softness and adjust with a sprinkling of water according to choice.
Scoop, roll into balls, wrap it up in cling films and place in food warmers.
Serve with vegetable soups, okro, egusi, or other soup choices.

Tapioca Starch Homemade:-
Tapioca flour is extracted from the raw fresh cassava roots, strained, dried and milled into a smooth and fine flour which is smoother than the cassava four. Cassava flour is derived from the dried cassava roots, blended into flour with much more fiber and not as smooth as tapioca flour or starch. Tapioca starch is a gluten-free flour that can be used in baking recipes, soup thickeners, desserts and also used for the coating of meat or fish before frying. A light alternative to corn starch and other starch options in various recipes.

Recipe ingredients:-
Raw fresh cassava roots.
Cheese bag or fine smooth mesh.
Recipe steps:-
Peel cassava roots and wash very well to remove dirt’s and sand. Crush or cut into smaller pieces to make blending easier and faster, for a smooth paste blend or mill.
Mix the blended cassava paste with a lot of water to have a pouring consistency. Then sieve it using a mesh, collect the strained liquid paste, sieve for the second time with a cheese bag or cheese cloth to collect the fine smooth tapioca starch.
Keep it undisturbed to rest for 2 hours, after which the starch will settle at the base of the bowl and the water will remain on top.
Strain away the water to leave only the mass of the tapioca starch.
Scoop the firm starch collected at the base of the bowl.
Spread it out on a tray and place in the sun to dry. Better still dry with a dehydrator or place in the oven to dry.
After drying the starch, grind into a smooth starch with the coffee grinder or ground at the mill.
Sieve with a fine smooth mesh. Store the homemade tapioca starch or flour in an airtight jar or bowls and use for tapioca recipes.

Homemade Tapioca Pearls:-
Recipe Ingredients:-
Tapioca starch.
Brown sugar.
Hot water.

Recipe steps:-
Put some water to boil, place tapioca starch in a glass bowl or stainless steel bowl. Pour in boiling water and mix in quickly with a spatula until it starts to form a ball.
Place on a work surface and knead with gloved hands until soft, smooth and fluffy light.
Add sugar to boiling water to make a syrup, keep a part of the sugar syrup in the refrigerator to cool to be used for the tapioca pearl once cooked.
Roll the dough into sausage shapes, cut into cubes. Then roll the cubes, to form a pea-sized tiny balls. Repeat until all dough is used up. Place back the remaining sugar-syrup on heat and bring to boil; add the balls, it will sink down at first but as it boils it will become fluffy light and float, rising to the top and puff up.
Stir repeated the boiling pearls, and do not allow the liquid to dry up. Once cooked scoop into the sugar syrup in the refrigerator. Tapioca sticky, slimy and chewy pearls are ready. Use in tea recipes, desserts, gruels, purees, any recipe of choice.
Add in food coloring and flavor while cooking for variety if desire.

Tapioca Pearls Dessert:-
A sweet deliciousness, so creamy, chewy, light and fluffy dessert. An absolutely exotic delight called Tapioca Pearls; gluten-free, gut-friendly and delicious.
Recipe Ingredients:-
Tapioca Pearls.
Vanilla flavor, Fruits or Tea bag of choice.

Recipe Steps:-
Soak tapioca pearls in water for 30 minutes, place on high heat and bring it boil, add milk and a pinch of salt. Simmer and stir often to avoid sticking.
Reduce heat, add sugar and stir until dissolve, continuously stir until tapioca pearls thicken.
Beat eggs, whisk in slowly one cup of hot tapioca; stir to avoid it curdling. Mix into a thick custard.
Add to the remaining tapioca on low heat, stir in quickly to get a thick evenly smooth custard of the tapioca pearls. Do not boil.
Remove from the heat and cool. Add flavor of choice and serve hot or cold.

Health Benefits Of Cassava And Garri:-
Garri is enjoyed every day by millions all over the world; it is an easy, fast and delicious most favored quick meals of all times cutting across tribes, cultures, and traditional cuisines. Garri nutrients include sodium, magnesium, potassium, and cassava is also highly loaded with excellent dietary fiber; high in fiber which gives a filling of satiety and prevents eating all the time, help also in weight loss if eaten in moderation.
Garri is fortified with many other added nutrients such as Vitamin A, which is great for healthy eyes, improves poor eye sight and prevent future blindness; a well processed Garri is excellent for good eye-sight. Garri is loaded with folate and calcium which helps the body’s immune system, helpful for pregnant women; helps reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration, minimizes age related illnesses.
Garri is light and so nutritious, even though starchy it is still very low in calories because it has resistant starch that helps in removing cholesterol in the system. Garri is a deliciously gluten-free food and gut friendly; that is great for people with celiac disease which affects the intestine, also those people that are sensitive to gluten in foods, because foods with gluten irritate their guts and damage their intestine. Helps to aid in the absorption of intestinal toxins, with its soluble fiber helping also to improve digestive health, bulky stool, eradicate constipation in the guts but too much of Garri may cause stomach cramps and bloating.
Cassava assists in the prevention of deadly diseases like cancer, the cassava leaves B17 helps in stimulating red blood cells, the plant contains loads of beneficial nutrients such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, iron, Vitamin B and C from its sticky starch. An excellent source of minerals such as copper, and magnesium for a healthy immune system; healthy bones and nerves.
Garri is the best go-get antidote for diarrhea or running stomach:- Simply soak some Garri in lots of cool water with no added sugar, a pinch of salt and just drink up, works like magic immediately the guts will stabilize. Drinking garri has a cooling and soothing effect on the body which gives the body calm and energy.

Adverse Effects Of Garri:- Cassava contains cyanide which can cause harm to the eye if the cassava is NOT processed well, making the drinking of Garri more harmful than good if taken too much; moderation is advised in drinking Garri or other cassava products. The sour Garri can also irritate the intestinal bowels leading to ulcers due to its sourness and acidity. Consuming Cassava or Garri in excess is detrimental to weight loss goals due to its high carbohydrates loads; can cause weight gain that can lead to obesity. Garri that is not properly processed or stored is a threat to the consumer’s health.

Sustainability In Cassava Production:- Nigeria is the worlds largest producer of cassava and its importance cannot be over emphasized because it is a basic staple food for the majority of Nigerians but women are traditionally known to process cassava; and all the cassava produced is used for human consumption. Improvements in cassava yields, quality, and sustainability are vital for food security in Nigeria; it is advisable to work with farmers to solve their most pressing problems and to help ensure a sustainable livelihoods for farmers who produce cassava. Nigeria is a world leader in cassava production but is not an active participant in cassava trade in the international market due to the fact that her cassava is targeted at the domestic food market with the use of subsistence farming production method; there is the need for a shift from sustenance food production to industrial crop used in ethanol, starch, pellets, and high quality cassava flour for the export market. There is also a need to adopt promoting, developing and diversifying Nigeria cassava based industries; Improved technology is the key for a sustainable economic growth and increase in the productivity of the cassava industry due to the fact that its usage as a source of ethanol for fuel energy, for animal feed, and starch industry is increasing. Cassava peels are known to yield biogas to help augment the primary energy needs of Nigeria, because cassava is the best energy crop for use in ethanol production. Cassava is much more resilient to climate change than any other staple crop; a more sustainable method of cassava farming will provide substantial environmental benefits and increase food production and also reduce the environmental impacts. Upgrade your eating groove today; Go-get your garri grits for a delicious experience!