Gari constitutes a daily meal to some 150 million people world wide. It is a popular West African food. It could be compared to what potato flour is to the Westerners. It is even more versatile than that. It can be eaten as a snack in cold water on a very hot day, or cooked in hot water to make a dough-like meal called eba or gari foto to eat any of the African vegetable soups. It is a popular Ghanaian, Sierra Leonian and Nigerian food item. You can buy garri any time here

Gari is a fine to coarse granular flour of varying texture made from cassava tubers (also called cassava roots) which are cleaned after harvesting, grated, water and starch squeezed out of it, left to ferment and then fried either in palm oil or without palm oil and serves as a major staple food in West Africa. It is also called garri or gali in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

You can not claim to have eaten any West African food without having eaten gari!

It is most widely eaten as Eba. Eba is made by sprinkling gari into a bowl or pot of boiling water and stirred until a dough of garri is formed. You could add more water to the dough and stir to your desired texture. The finished product is called eba.

Eba is served with vegetable soup and fish or meat. In combination, this constitutes a very balanced diet. Before you finish reading this line, a ball of eba has just been swallowed with a heap of delicious African soup somewhere in Africa, Europe, America or Australia… oh how mouth watering!

Even more refreshing is a meal of coconut and garri under the hot tropical sun! Do you like yours with akara (beans cake) or smoked fish? Put a handful of gari into a bowl and add about half a cup of cold or ice water. You may decide to add sugar and or salt. Some even add evaporated milk and eat with smoked fish, beans, peanuts or coconut. This is frequently taken for lunch in many parts of tropical Africa.

In Ghana, Foto Gari and yoo ke garri are popular ways of eating gari.Yoo ke garri is gari with beans. Foto gari is made by making a stew and pouring moistened gari into it.Garri is also used as soup thickener.

How to Make Garri

Garri is traditionally made at home in Africa. It is increasingly becoming common to produce garri at commercial level using mechanised means.

Made from cassava, the tubers are harvested, peeled, removing the covering, and the white pulp is grated in a garri grinding machine. Before the advent of machines, the cassava is hand grated.

The grated produce is then put into a jute sack and the sack tied. Traditionally, this is left to ferment for three to seven days depending on the type of garri been made. This step is very important, as the fermentation process helps to reduce and detoxify the high cyanide content of cassava.

While still inside the sack, sacks are stacked up on each other, and a wooden board placed below and above the sacks. The wooden boards are tied together with the sacks full of the grated cassava in between. Tension is created by tightening the rope and thus allowing water to run out of the grated cassava being processed.

Usually, by day three, the grated cassava would have lost quite some water and become reasonably dried.

This step is also been by-passed with the use of machines that compress and squeeze water out of the grated cassava.

The water running out is very rich in starch. Collected into a basin and let to sediment, pure raw starch is obtained.

This fermented, and dried grated cassava is now sieved to remove large particles and fibres and the smaller grain-like bits are collected for further processing. This is now fried in a dry large pot. All you do here is put a thick big pot on fire, let the pot get dried, then put in some of the grated cassava and stir it until it becomes crisp. It gives off a pleasant cooked aroma. You must stir this continuously to avoid it getting burnt. The finished cooked or baked product is what is called garri.

Types of Garri

There are different types of gari, depending on how it is processed, its grain size and the region of Africa where it is produced.

The Standards Organization of Nigeria classifies gari into:

  • Extra Fine Grain Gari - where more than 80% of the grain passes through a sieve of less than 350 micro meter aperture
  • Fine Grain Gari - More than 80 % of the grains pass through a sieve of less than 1000 micro meter aperture
  • Coarse Grain gari - Not less than 80% of grains passes through a seive of 1400 micro meter or less than 20 % of weight passes through a seive of 1000 micro meterExtra Coarse Grain Gari - Not less than 20 % of grain is retained on a sieve of 1400 micro meter aperture.

You can choose any of the above texture size to meet the specific need you want to put your garri to. Generally, for making eba, the fine grain or coarse grain gari are usually okay, and the extra coarse grain garri for soaking.

Garri can also be classified based on fermentation length (days and extent) as well as whether palm oil is added to make it yellow or not. Such classifications includes:

  • Red Gari

    This is the type of gari commonly found in the Mid-Western part of Nigeria. It is also called Bendel garri. It is made exactly the way described above, but for the addition of red palm oil after grating the cassava and the gari is allowed to ferment for two to three days also. Adding palm oil to the gari further helps to reduce the cyanide content and gives it a unique flavour.

  • White Gari

    Same as Bendel gari, left to ferment for two to three days as well, but red palm oil is not added during processing.

  • Ijebu Gari

    Ijebu gari is made same way too, but allowed to ferment for up to seven days. No palm oil is added. It is also fried to become much crisped. It characteristically has a very sharp taste and less starchy. Many people from the Western part of Nigeria love this and find it great for “soaking”.

  • Ghana Gari

    Ghana garri as the name implies is garri made in Ghana. Again the process is basically the same. The harvested and peeled cassava is soaked in water first. This step is skipped when making gari in Nigeria as above. After grating the peeled and soaked cassava, this is then sun dried, before frying it in a pot to cook it crisp.

    Ghana gari thus comes out quite starchy, very crisp, and lasts very long in storage. No palm oil is added. It is very good in making eba.

Nutritional Value of Gari

Gari is rich in starch. It also has very high fibre content. Also contains proteins and some essential vitamins.

The high fibre content makes it very filling, and also makes this good in preventing or at least reduces likelihood of constipation and bowel diseases.

Where to buy Gari

You can click and buy gari here and get it delivered to your door at the click of your mouse mouse wherever you are in the UK. Just put in your order here.

You can also get gari to buy in Markets all over West Africa. Out side Africa, garri is sold in most African food markets. You can go to our egusi soup page to see how egusi soup is made and enjoy your garri with egusi soup..


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