Is Gari The Same As Cassava Flour? A Simple Guide

Gari and cassava flour are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but are they really the same thing?

If you’ve ever been curious about the differences between these two West African staples, then you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll explore the unique qualities of gari and cassava flour, their production methods, and their nutritional benefits.

So, grab a bowl of your favorite soup or stew and let’s dive in!

Is Gari The Same As Cassava Flour?

While gari and cassava flour are both made from the cassava root, they are not exactly the same thing.

Cassava flour is made by peeling, grating, and drying the cassava root, then grinding it into a fine powder. It is a versatile gluten-free flour that can be used in a variety of recipes, from breads and cakes to thickening agents for soups and stews.

Gari, on the other hand, is made by fermenting grated cassava root, then roasting it to create a granular texture. It has a slightly sour taste and is often eaten as a main course with soup or stew.

What Is Gari?

Gari is a West African staple food made from cassava root. It is a creamy-white granular flour with a slightly fermented flavor and sour taste. It is produced by grating cassava tubers, fermenting the grated cassava for 3 to 7 days, and then roasting it to create a granular texture. Gari is often eaten as a main meal with soup or stew, and can also be mixed with cold or boiled water to form a snack.

Gari has a long shelf life of six months or more when properly stored. It is rich in fiber, copper, and magnesium, making it a nutritious meal alternative. There are different variations of gari, including red gari (fermented with red palm oil), white gari (fermented without palm oil), Ijebu gari (fermented for 7 days for a sharper taste and less starchy texture), and Ghana gari (peeled cassava soaked in water before grating, then sun-dried and fried for a crisper texture).

Gari is similar to farofa of Brazil, which is used in many food preparations and recipes, particularly in the state of Bahia. It is also used to make a gruel called “fufu” in Nigeria and can be used as a starch side dish like rice or couscous. Overall, gari is an excellent gluten-free, grain-free flour that offers all the taste and texture of wheat while being a traditional and nutritious West African staple food.

What Is Cassava Flour?

Cassava flour is a gluten-free flour that is made from the cassava root. This starchy tuber is native to South America and is grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions. The process of making cassava flour involves peeling the tubers, soaking them in water for several days, sun-drying or roasting them, scraping off the outer layer, and grinding the remainder into a fine powder.

Cassava flour has a light or neutral taste and a smooth texture, which makes it a popular substitute for wheat flour. It is predominantly white in color, although some varieties may have a light red or yellow hue. Cassava flour is very rich in carbohydrates, with one cup containing about 110 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, and 4.5 grams of sugar. It’s also rich in vitamin C, with one cup containing close to the recommended daily value.

Cassava flour is a highly versatile ingredient that can be used in numerous ways in the food industry. It’s used to prepare all sorts of baked goods, tortillas, porridge, pancakes, and gluten-free pasta and pizza. Manufacturers also sometimes use it as a thickener for ice cream, sauces, and dressings. Its low moisture content gives cassava flour a long shelf life as long as it’s stored away from moisture.

It’s important to note that while cassava flour is gluten-free and grain-free, it doesn’t contain some of the healthful nutrients other flours provide. Therefore, it should be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Cassava flour can be found in the health food section of larger supermarkets, specialty health food stores, and online retailers.

How Are Gari And Cassava Flour Produced?

To produce cassava flour, the cassava root is first peeled and grated. The grated cassava is then dried and ground into a fine powder. This process can be done at home using a manual grater and a mortar and pestle, or it can be done commercially using machines.

Gari production, on the other hand, involves a more complex process. The cassava root is first cleaned and grated, then left to ferment for three to seven days in jute bags. This fermentation process is crucial as it breaks down the compounds that contain cyanide and removes the cyanide gas that is naturally present in the root.

After fermentation, the jute bags are pressed to remove any remaining water from the roots inside. The pressed-out water can be collected and allowed to settle, with the sediment forming pure starch that can be used for cooking purposes.

The gari is then sieved and fried in a dry pot until it becomes crisp. This pan-roasting process drives off any remaining cyanide as gas and kills enzymes and microorganisms to extend the storage life of the product. Finally, the gari is ground into granules of varying sizes, depending on the desired texture.

Nutritional Differences Between Gari And Cassava Flour

When it comes to nutritional content, there are some key differences between gari and cassava flour. One study found that Aspergillus niger-fermented cassava products, including gari, had a significant increase in protein and fat content compared to unfermented and wildly fermented cassava products. However, the protein and fat content were higher in cassava flour than in gari. Additionally, both gari and cassava flour had low levels of cyanide and tannin, which are anti-nutrients that can be harmful in high amounts.

In terms of calories, cassava flour has fewer calories per serving than tapioca flour. Cassava flour also has a higher fiber content than tapioca flour, making it more effective as a thickener. Cassava flour is also gluten-free, making it a great choice for those with gluten sensitivities or disorders.

It’s important to note that cassava is a high-calorie root vegetable, with 191 calories per 3.5-ounce serving. While it is an important staple crop in many countries, it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Culinary Uses Of Gari And Cassava Flour

Both gari and cassava flour have a range of culinary uses, and are popular ingredients in West African cuisine. Here are some of the ways in which they can be used:

1. Gari can be used to make a traditional West African dish called “fufu”. To make fufu, gari is mixed with boiling water to create a dough-like consistency, which is then formed into balls and served with soup or stew.

2. Gari can also be used as a side dish in place of rice or couscous. It can be mixed with cold water, sugar or salt, and sometimes evaporated milk for added flavor.

3. Cassava flour can be used as a substitute for wheat flour in many recipes, including breads, cakes, and pastries. It is gluten-free and has a slightly sweet taste, making it a great alternative for those with gluten sensitivities.

4. Cassava flour can also be used as a thickening agent in soups and stews, or as a coating for fried foods.

5. Both gari and cassava flour can be used to make traditional West African dishes such as eba (a dough-like mixture made from gari), garri foto (a thick gruel made with vegetables), and yoo ke garri (a dish made with gari and beans).

Conclusion: Gari Vs Cassava Flour – Which One Should You Choose?

When it comes to choosing between gari and cassava flour, it really depends on your intended use. If you are looking for a gluten-free flour substitute for baking, then cassava flour is the way to go. It has a neutral taste and can be used in a variety of recipes without altering the flavor.

However, if you are looking for a more traditional African ingredient to use in your cooking, then gari may be the better choice. It has a unique flavor and texture that can add depth to soups and stews.

Additionally, gari is high in fiber and low in starch, making it a healthier option than cassava flour. However, it is important to note that gari is not recommended for baking due to its granular texture and sour taste.