Cassava, manioc, (manihot escuelenta or jatropha manihot) has been a staple crop for many years in the Caribbean, especially among the Amerindians. It is still considered a staple crop, much like potato. Therefore, many cassava dishes are similar to potato dishes, provided that the cassava is cooked or prepared properly to remove the toxic compound, cyanogenic glycosides, which is commonly destroyed during cooking or expressing the juices from the cassava.
A few recipes ago, I posted cassava farine, a dried cassava meal which was obtained by finely grating or grounding the pulp, pressing out the juice, and allowing it to dry over a low fire. Today, I have another Amerindian recipe for my readers. It is cassava bread, which is considered to be distinctly part of the Amerindian cuisine, and made from the cassava meal. However, for those who are very accustomed to the somewhat sweet taste of normal bread, will find this cassava bread a bit insipid or lacking flavour.
Cassava Bread Recipe
I was quite surprised to learn a number of things about cassava. It is known that cassava has a high cyanide concentration which can be extracted from its juice which is extremely toxic and could cause the belly to swell. Please don’t allow children to taste the raw grated cassava or leave it unattended for children to get a hold of.
Anyway, this recipe is very manual. You will have to strip the rind of the cassava before you grate it. The juice is squeezed out. The Amerindians extract the juice with a “matapee“, a long woven strainer, made from reeds. The molded husk looks like round cakes which will then be flattened on around surface (like the tawah). It will then be cooked over fire and sun baked until it is solid and crisp.
In case you were wondering about the juice that is extracted, it is used to make cassareep, a thick brown sauce. Cassareep is the secret ingredient when making Pepperpot, another famed Amerindian dish here on the island. Cassava bread and Pepperpot are the national dishes of Guyana and many Christian Guyanese consider it the ultimate breakfast for Christmas. In Trinidad, cassava bread is not that popular, except among the Amerindian descendents. If you want, you can also buy cassava bread from the Amerindian community in Arima. Or, if you don’t have the time to drive all the way to Arima, try the simple cassava bread recipe below.
6 cups cassava flour
2 tsp salt
Place the form on the tawa over a low fire.
Note: I used a 9″ spring form pan with the bottom removed.
Note: Remember the fire must be very low.
Note: The cassava bread will get dry and hard like crackers.
Well that’s it for another monumental post. Now, everyone can make cassava bread like our first peoples of Trinidad and Tobago.
Ah gone 🙂