In Search Of The Finest Garri?

GARRI is a fine coarse granular flour of varying texture; its production is a bit irksome, it is extracted from Cassava tubers which are peeled, washed and grated or crushed to produce a mash with the use of cassava grinding machine. The mash is placed in absorbent sacks and arranged in a cassava compressing machine (jack); the 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.

Customarily, it is left to ferment for two to three days to help reduce and detoxify the high cyanide content of cassava. After two to three days, the grated cassava would have lost quite some water and become reasonably dried, it is then being jacked. The 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 put on fire; the smaller grain-like bits are being stirred until it becomes crisp. It must be stirred continuously to avoid it getting burnt. The finished cooked or baked dry granular product is what is called GARRI. Garri is very rich in starch. It contains proteins and some essential vitamins. It also has very high fibre content; the high fibre content makes it very filling, and also makes it good in preventing or at least reduces likelihood of constipation and bowel diseases.

An average Nigerian Student cannot be contented without taking Garri a day; it's being soak in a cup /bowl of cold/ice water and eaten as light meal or as a snack on a very hot day, under the hot tropical sun. Garri is referred to by Students as 'Grandmother of all foods'; they can't do without it. It is a popular Nigerian food and it constitutes a daily meal to millions of Nigerians.

Generally, Garri is frequently taken for lunch in many parts of Nigeria; its taste is more sweeten when Sugar or Honey and Evaporated/Powdered Milk or Chocolates are being added. It's more enjoyable when eaten with Groundnuts, Peanuts, Cashew nuts, Chunks of Coconut, Beans Cake (Akara), Cooked Beans, Smoked Fish, Roasted Meats, Kulikuli, e.t.c. Gosh, I am salivating! Garri can also be eaten dry without water, but with sugar added.

Garri is also being prepared into another food which is known as 'EBA'. Eba is made by sprinkling Garri into a bowl or pot of boiling water and stirred/kneaded with a flat or round short wooden baton until stiff dough of Garri is formed. More boiled water could be added to the dough and then stir to ones desired texture. Eba is eaten with different soups like vegetable soup, okra soup, with fish or meat.

As many does, I have lived in the widest imagination and thought that Garri Ijebu is the finest Garri until this Easter period that I discovered the real finest Garri. I made a trip to Ikeji-Ile Ijesa, an enclave on an inter-mountain plateau in Oriade Local Government Area, in the State of Osun, which shares boundary with Ogotun, Ekiti State. Ikeji-Ile Ijesa people are predominantly farmers who specialize in growing Food Crops like Maize & Cassava and Cash Crops like Cocoa, Date Palms, Kolanut; but today, the people, both men & women, have graduated mainly into growing of Cassava and production of Garri, in large quantities.

After the mountaineering journey into the town under the hot tropical sun; the Garri produced in the town was soaked for me to take as a snack before preparing the dish my taste bud craves for; I have eaten different Garri but I've never eaten one as quality, tasty and flavoured as such. I have eaten the Sandy & Seedy Garri of 'ABCD' Hut; eaten the too Starchy & Tacky Garri of 'EFGH' Farmstead; I have eaten the Uncooked & Sour Taste Garri of 'IJKL' Commune. I've tasted the Lightly Cooked & Bland Taste Garri of 'MNOP' Enclave; I've tasted the Fine but Sandy Garri of 'QRST' Village. I have also tasted the Coarse Gluey Garri of 'UVWX' Town and I have eaten the Palm Oil added, Yellowish Garri of 'YZ' Inhabitants; name any other Garri!

I have also eaten the much-talked 'Garri Ijebu', but I tell you, none can equal the texture of 'Garri Ikeji'. Garri Ijebu which is refers to be the finest is only hyped, it can and will never match that of the quality of Garri Ikeji. Garri Ikeji is fried to become much crisped; it is made to have finer grains, coarser texture and a pleasingly sharp taste, making it very suitable for consumption. It is less starchy and very good for 'Soaking'. It lasts long in storage. Unlike the Garri of some towns which is usually sun-dried before frying it crispy; makes it starchy and having loads of lumps/seeds.

GARRI Ikeji is the finest Garri on earth. It is commonly said that 'the taste of the pudding is in the eating', please try to eat Garri Ikeji. I'm well assured that you'll definitely ask for more. I was even made to understand that people come all the way from Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar, e.t.c to buy the Garri. 'Business men & women do come here to buy it at cheaper price and takes it to cities to sell at a high cost', a seller said!

Oluwatomilola K. Boyinde,
Initiator & President,
Ijesaland Renaissance Initiative,
[email protected]

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Articles by Oluwatomilola Boyinde