Bread is probably the most important staple food in the world. There are many different types of bread, from the wheat or rye based loaves of Europe to Indian naan and the tortillas so ubiquitous in Latin American cuisine. For a taste of the Caribbean, you may want to casabe. This is a staple in countries like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and is a type of flatbread made of cassava.
Cassava is a plant native to South America and the Caribbean. The most important part of this plant is its root, which is made up of a starchy white or yellow flesh covered in rough brown skin. Cassava roots can grow up to almost twelve inches in length and with a diameter of between two and four inches.
The first instances of cassava cultivation may have occurred more than a millennium ago in Brazil’s western parts. By the time the Spanish conquest swept through the area, cassava root was a staple not only in the north of South America but also in Central America and throughout the Caribbean. When the Portuguese traders moved in, they took cassava and maize to Africa, where both plants soon became staple crops. Today cassava is also grown and enjoyed in the tropical parts of Asia.
The root of the cassava plant is very rich in carbohydrates. It also contains lots of calcium and phosphorus, as well as a healthy dose of Vitamin C. At the same time, it contains only very small amounts of fat and sodium, so if you’re watching your cholesterol or blood pressure, this is a great alternative.
The Arawak and Carib people were the first to make a flatbread from cassava. To make it yourself, you first need to peel the cassava and then finely grate the flesh. Next, you should squeeze out the liquid from the grated pulp. This is because the liquid is poisonous.
You may add salt, but it’s not really necessary. In a heated frying pan, form rounded flat shapes with the grated pulp. Alternatively, use special molds. You don’t need to add oil. Simply cook the cassava in the dry pan until the breads are golden on either side. If they cool down, they get a cracker-like texture.
Many people enjoy the bread by simply sprinkling it with a little salt and olive oil. Others add eggs, avocado or other toppings, almost like a tostada. Use it with dips like guacamole or add it to soups instead of croutons. You may even want to experiment with the bread as a type of pizza base.
To find cassava root outside of the tropics is not that easy. However, you may try stores that specialize in Caribbean or African foods. It may be easier to simply buy ready-made casabe. This you can buy from specialty stores, especially ones that cater to Dominican, Jamaican or other Caribbean clientele. Alternatively, you now have a great excuse for a trip to the Caribbean.
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