Mujje Tulye from Uganda/Cassava Cuisine in Uganda

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The cassava root[edit | edit source]

Cassava root

Manihot esculents (with common names including 'cassava) is a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge) family native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Cassava, when dried to a powdery (or pearly) extract, is called tapioca; its fermented, flaky version is named garri.

Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize. Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people. It is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava, while Thailand is the largest exporter of dried cassava.

Cassava is classified as sweet or bitter. Farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals, and thieves. Like other roots and tubers, both bitter and sweet varieties of cassava contain antinutritional factors and toxins.It must be properly prepared before consumption. Improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication and goitres, and may even cause ataxia or partial paralysis. The more toxic varieties of cassava are a fall-back resource (a "food security crop") in times of famine in some places.

Description[edit | edit source]

Leaves of the cassava plant

The cassava root is long and tapered, with a firm, homogeneous flesh encased in a detachable rind, about 1mm thick, rough and brown on the outside. Commercial varieties can be 10cm in diameter at the top, and around 15 to 30cm long. A woody cordon runs along the root's axis. The flesh can be chalk-white or yellowish. Cassava roots are very rich in starch and contain significant amounts of calcium (50mg/100g), phosphorus (40mg/100g) and vitamin C (25mg/100g). However, they are poor in protein and other nutrients. In contrast, cassava leaves are a good source of protein (rich in lysine) but deficient in the amino acid methionine and possibly tryptophan.

cross section of a cassava root

Vernacular names[edit | edit source]

In the vernacular languages of the places where it is cultivated, cassava is called yuca (in Spanish), manioca (Spanish and Portuguese), aipim or macaxeira (Portuguese), manioca or maniota (Polynesian]]), balinghoy or kamoteng kahoy (in the Philippines), শিমলু আলু shimolu aalu in AssameseA, tabolchu (in Northeast India, Garo Hills), kuchik kilangu or maravallik kilangu (in Tamil, in Tamil Nadu), akpụ (in Igbo),rōgṑ (in Hausa), mogo (in Africa), mandioca and kappa (predominantly in India).

Economic importance[edit | edit source]

World production of cassava root was estimated to be 184 million tonnes in 2002, rising to 230 million tonnes in 2008. The majority of production in 2002 was in Africa, where 99.1 million tonnes were grown. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava.

In 2010, the average yield of cassava crops worldwide was 12.5 tonnes per hectare.

Cassava, yams and sweet potatoes are important sources of food in the tropics. The cassava plant gives the third highest yield of carbohydrates per cultivated area among crop plants, after sugarcane and sugar beets. Cassava plays a particularly important role in agriculture in developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, because it does well on poor soils and with low rainfall, and because it is a perennial that can be harvested as required. Its wide harvesting window allows it to act as a famine reserve and is invaluable in managing labor schedules. It offers flexibility to resource-poor farmers because it serves as either a subsistence or a cash crop.

No continent depends as much on root and tuber crops in feeding its population as does Africa. In the humid and subhumid areas of tropical Africa, it is either a primary staple food or a secondary costaple. In Ghana, for example, cassava and yams occupy an important position the agricultural economy and contribute about 46% of the agricultural gross domestic product. Cassava accounts for a daily caloric intake of 30% in Ghana and is grown by nearly every farming family. The importance of cassava to many Africans is epitomised in the Ewe (a language spoken in Ghana, Togo and Benin) name for the plant, agbeli, meaning "there is life".

Nutritional profile[edit | edit source]

Cassava root is essentially a carbohydrate source. Its composition shows 60–65 percent moisture, 20–31 percent carbohydrate, 1–2 percent crude protein and a comparatively low content of vitamins and minerals. However, the roots are rich in calcium and vitamin C and contain a nutritionally significant quantity of thiamine, riboflavin and nicotinic acid. Cassava starch contains 70 percent amylopectin and 20 percent amylose. Cooked cassava starch has a digestibility of over 75 percent.

Cassava root is a poor source of protein. Despite the very low quantity, the quality of cassava root protein is fairly good in terms of essential amino acids. Methionine, cysteine and cystine are, however, limiting amino acids in cassava root.

Cassava is attractive as nutrition source in certain ecosystems because cassava is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, can be successfully grown on marginal soils, and gives reasonable yields where many other crops do not grow well. Cassava is well adapted within latitudes 30° north and south of the equator, at elevations between sea level and 2,000 m (6,600 ft) above sea level, in equatorial temperatures, with rainfalls of 50 millimeters to 5 m (16 ft) annually, and to poor soils with a pH ranging from acidic to alkaline. These conditions are common in certain parts of Africa.

Cassava is harvested by hand by raising the lower part of the stem and pulling the roots out of the ground, then removing them from the base of the plant. The upper parts of the stems with the leaves are plucked off before harvest. Cassava is propagated by cutting the stem into sections of approximately 15 cm, these being planted prior to the wet season.

Cassava is a highly productive crop in terms of food calories produced per unit land area per unit of time, significantly higher than other staple crops. Cassava can produce food calories at rates exceeding 250,000 cal/hectare/day compared with 176,000 for rice, 110,000 for wheat, and 200,000 for maize (corn).

Cassava, like other foods, also has antinutritional and toxic factors. Of particular concern are the cyanogenic glucosides of cassava (linamarin and lotaustralin). These, on hydrolysis, release hydrocyanic acid (HCN). The presence of cyanide in cassava is of concern for human and for animal consumption. The concentration of these antinutritional and unsafe glycosides varies considerably between varieties and also with climatic and cultural conditions. Selection of cassava species to be grown, therefore, is quite important. Once harvested, bitter cassava must be treated and prepared properly prior to human or animal consumption, while sweet cassava can be used after simple boiling.

The traditional method used in West Africa is to peel the roots and put them into water for three days to ferment. The roots then are dried or cooked. In Nigeria and several other west African countries, including Ghana, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso, they are usually grated and lightly fried in palm oil to preserve them. The result is a foodstuff called gari. Fermentation is also used in other places such as Indonesia (see Tapai). The fermentation process also reduces the level of antinutrients, making the cassava a more nutritious food.


Uses[edit | edit source]

They are numerous.

Cassava can be cooked in many ways. The soft-boiled root of the sweet variety has a delicate flavor and can replace boiled potatoes in many uses: as an accompaniment for meat dishes or made into purées, dumplings, soups, stews, gravies, etc. This plant is used in cholent in some households, as well. Deep fried (after boiling or steaming), it can replace fried potatoes, bringing a distinctive flavor. It can be made into a flour that is used in breads, cakes and cookies. Cassava-based dishes are widely consumed wherever the plant is cultivated; some have regional, national, or ethnic importance.

Cassava rolls step by step[edit | edit source]

Ingredients[edit | edit source]

  • Cassava
  • Milk
  • Flour
  • Water
  • salt

Method[edit | edit source]

  • Step 1: Buy cassava tubes from a near by local market. This should preferably be done in the morning hours , when someone can get the freshet produce.
  • Step 2: Peel the cassava tubers , making sure all the brown skin is taken off
  • Step 3: Dice the cassava into small cubes
  • Step 4: Rinse the cassava cubes to remove any extra starch
  • Step 5: Place the cassava cubes in a pan with water and bring to a boil.
  • Step 6: Add seasoning to the mixture .
  • Step 7: In another pan, boil milk
  • Step 8: When the cassava is ready (soft), Drain the excess water and mash
  • Step 9: As you mash, gradually add milk until you reach a good consistency
  • Step 10: Roll the mash in small balls and dust with flour
  • Step 11: Leave them to stand for 10 minutes
  • Step 12: Add vegetable oil into a pan and place it over heat. When the oil is well heated ,then add the cassava rolls
  • Step 13: Deep fry them until they are golden brown and serve

Steamed cassava[edit | edit source]

Cassava and matooke for steaming : Matooke is wrapped in banana leaves. The cassava is also wrapped in banana leaves and placed on top of the matooke. Water is poured in the saucepan and then saucepan placed on a stove.

Ingredients[edit | edit source]

  • Sliced Cassava
  • Banana Leaves
  • Water
  • Banana leave stems

Method[edit | edit source]

  • Peel, cut and wash cassava.
  • Place banana stems into a pan and pour water over them
  • Place banana leaf over the stems cover in water.
  • Wrap the cassava into the banana leaves and let it steam for over 30 minutes.

Serving[edit | edit source]

The steamed cassava can be served along side beef stew, gnut sauce, leafy greens and a glass of juice

Lusaniya, a pork feast with boiled cassava chips/slices
Lumonde, Muwogo n'ebinyebwa : Sweet Potato, Cassava served with G-nut stew and green vegetables
Charcoal Roasted Pork Served with Boiled Cassava : Pork Chops are roasted on skewers after being marinated for 3 hours. It is served with boiled Cassava and chopped fresh tomatoes and onions.

Katogo[edit | edit source]

Ingredients[edit | edit source]

  • Dry or fresh Beans (kidney beans)
  • Cassava Chunks
  • Diced Onions
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Vegetable oil
  • salt
  • Curry Powder
  • Choice Vegetables(Carrots, Green Beans, Cauliflower etc)

Preparation[edit | edit source]

  • Peel clean and cut the cassava into chunks
  • Wash the beans and soak them over night.
  • Boil the beans until they are soft
  • When the beans are almost ready add cassava chunks.
  • Allow the mixture to boil for 10 minutes until the cassava is soft.
  • Fry the onions and tomatoes in the oil until golden.
  • Drain the cassava and bean mixture and place in the pan along with the fried onions and tomatoes.
  • Add your choice vegetables, roughly chopped
  • Season it with salt and any choice spices
  • Cook for another 10 minutes and let everything heat through