Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a root. The flour is prepared in a quantity in order to have enough for baking.
First the cassava root is peeled or scraped of its skin. It is then washed clean and grated. The grated cassava is then squeezed moist of its juice. This is done using a matapeewhich is a contractible seive made of mukru cane (Ischnosiphon arouma, Ischnosiphon obliquus).
Fresh fish or meat served with Cassava bread is a substantial rain forest meal. Part of this typical meal is fresh hot pepper. Fish or meat is sourced locally.
Animals are becoming scarcer, so fish is now much more on the menu. Drinks that are consumed would be made from fresh fruits or root tuber.
Barbecut (a Lokono word from which Barbeque is derived) is a common method of cooking. A walk in the forest can yield enticing delights. Such coveted fruits like the Turu (Oenocarpus bacaba) and Hubudi cashew (Anacardium giganteum) are just a few.
How Indigenous people make Cassava bread
Cassava bread drying naturally in the sun
The resulting dried out pulp which is now known as the meal has to be broken apart into smaller bits because when it comes out of the matapee it leaves as a compact tube. The meal is pounded very fine and sifted to take out any large lumps or fibre from the root. The fine powdery flour is now ready for baking.
Cassava bread is baked flat like a huge flan on a pan. In order to get its form, a hoop is used to contain the flour which is carefully spread evenly within the hoop and across the entire surface. The flour is gently pressed down to make it compact and allowed to bake slowly until the flour is cooked and the bread comes together as a flat cake. The cake is then turned over to bake on the other side. When this is done, it is then ready for eating.
In order to preserve the bread to last longer, which can be for weeks, it is put out into the hot sun to dry. In the forest where people spend their time doing many activities, having a food that lasts over a period of time is convenient. Starch which is also known as tapioca is one bi-product of cassava.
Cassava bread making has other bi-products. The liquid or juice that remains after squeezing is first made into a delicious sauce. It is boiled and the foamy top is scooped off and collected. This thick frothy sauce is called cadikura. Fresh meat, fish, shrimp or crab is cooked in the sauce and spiced with fresh hot pepper. This dish has a unique delicious taste and is highly prized.
Casareep - for preserving food
Preserving fresh food such as meat and fish is very important because it is vital that food is not wasted. The best way to do this is by using casareep sauce. This sauce is made by the further simmering of the liquid gathered from the squeezing of the cassava after the cadikura is made. After a long time of simmering, the liquid becomes thick and concentrated.
By adding the right amount to carefully washed fresh meat or fish and including some fresh pepper to taste, a dish is made that can last for weeks by just warming up every day. The casareep sauce preserves the meat. The bonus, is that, the longer this dish is kept, the more mature it becomes and the better it tastes. Like cassava bread, this dish has a long life and is very convenient.
Make Indigenous Lokono-style Cassava Bread (stove-top, step-by-step guide)
Method of making Cassava Bread
Click on picture for bigger image
Wide mouth mixing bowl
Small wide mouth bowl
Frying pan with thick bottom
7⅟2 ins Pizza hoop
Ingredients (makes 3 small cakes)
200g farinha de mandioca or cassava flour (from Brazil and can be bought from ethnic supermarkets)
150ml water (room temperature)
1. Measure flour In mixing bowl.
2. Gently pour in the water to thoroughly mix with the entire amount of flour stirring with tablespoon all the while. You will have a basic grainy mixture.
3. With this mixture, take the table spoon and use the bottom to break up the mixture and take out the lumps by pressing down, pulling and turning in short strokes. This will result in a fluffy consistency. (You can use your fingers but this takes longer)
4. The flour is now ready for baking
5. Heat pan on moderate heat and place pizza hoop (inside smooth rim touching pan) to receive the flour.
6. In the smaller wide mouth bowl measure in about 9 (nine)heaped filled table spoons of prepared flour and carefully place the measured flour in the heated pan. Spread evenly outward with the bottom of the tablespoon to the inner sides of the hoop. Use spoon bottom to press flour into place.
7. Take potato masher and further press flour firmly into place and shape. Concentrate on the rim.
8. Allow to bake for three to four mins (3 - 4 mins) or until bread leaves the side of hoop.
10. With spatula, gently turn bread over. Allow to cook for another three to four mins (3 - 4 mins).
11. Take bread out of pan and place on cooling tray. (I use my chips baking net)
12. Use the same day with your favourite spread, fish or meat. Enjoy!
13. Please use the form to tell me how you did. If you have any queries. I will answer them.