Soaked Gari with Roselle (Zobo) Petals

Funke Koleosho's Soaked Gari with Roselle Petals
Gari is one of the products of processed cassava tubers. Cassava is a food crop grown in all areas of Nigeria and processed into a variety of Nigerian staple dishes: gari/eba, starch, pupuru, akpu and fufu. The most common variety of gari is grainy and creamish white in appearance. There is also the yellow variety which comes about as a result of added palm oil.

Gari can be prepared hot or cold. When cooked in hot water it becomes a gelatinous dough (often referred to as gari / eba) and eaten with a variety of vegetable soups/stew. But when soaked in ice cold water it is eaten as a refreshing quick meal or snack served with a variety of complementary foods such as fried meat or fish, peanuts, moin moin, akara, beans etc. It is sweetened with sugar or tinned milk.

Soaked gari is notoriously regarded as a frugal meal, eaten at austere times....but I tell you, I have seen soaked gari eaten by some really well off people, in fine china bowls and with gold plated cutleries! There is really no firm basis to call it a frugal meal other than the fact that gari is one of the cheapest food,readily available and accessible to all Nigerians rich or poor... pretty much like bread is in the western we call bread a poor man's food?...emphatical No!

Gari Ijebu with dried Roselle Petals

I quite enjoy a bowl of soaked gari served with my favourite accompaniments such as fried meat, yoyo and moin moin. I do sometime, actually crave this dish,  especially on a particularly summer hot day. It becomes an ideal quick light meal, because of its cooling effect on the soul!....

As I always do, I explore ways to increase the profile of my food, you know to try an incorporate any new flavours or tastes and most importantly nutrients. Gari on its own is basically pure carbohydrates (albeit with some significant amount of fibre), so it would be really good to apply some fortification....

Nutritional Data for Gari (100g of white uncooked gari)
Calories: 365.5kcal
Dietary fibre: 4g
Carbohydrates: 86g
Minerals: Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus

The most desirable attributes/qualities of good gari are the crispiness and the tartness. Gari should be sharp to the taste and must "effect your cheeks", just as the Ijebu people of Nigeria make it (gari Ijebu). It should also not be dense and should not swell up excessively or too quickly once water is added.

Why Add Roselle
I have researched the benefits of Roselle (zoborodo) and I know of its numerous health benefits. (Read more about Roselle, Sorrel, Zobo here). I have always been really keen to add this food to my regular diet and not just make it into a drink as it is the common practice. I already successfully added Roselle to my ogi dish, so I decided to add some to my soaked gari. The acidity/tartness of Roselle complements gari well and enhances one of its most desired attributes.

This may seem like an unusual combination, but you need to try it to really appreciate it. So I would like you to try out this recipe, if not for the taste but at least for the nutritional benefits it offers.....

What you need
  • About a handful or two of gari Ijebu (Strain off dirt particles or debris off the gari before using)
  • Ice cold water
  • Ice cubes (optional....depending on how cold your water is)
  • Dried Roselle petals (give petals a good rinse before using)
  • Brown Sugar
  • Accompaniment of choice such as fried fish/meat, moin moin, akara etc. These would have to be prepared in advance

What to do
  1. Chop the dried Roselle petals into tiny pieces. This will enable quick infusion of the petals once soaked with the gari and it would make them easier to eat/chew. 
  2. In a large bowl, add some gari and the petals. Then add the iced cold water (plus the ice cubes if using) and stir. 
  3. Add sugar to taste and serve with any accompaniment of your choice. 

Roselle petals infused in soaked gari

More Roselle Recipes:
1. Sorrel Fortified Ogi



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