Garri is one of the most accessible and versatile food available to West Africans. It is one of those foods you will find in a Nigerian household, home and abroad; and is typically associated with quick meals. Add boiling water to make eba, add cold water for garri soakings or just sprinkle over beans; and you’re good to go. Gari fotor is prepared by mixing garri with sauce; so it is also quick to prepare.
Gari fotor is very popular in Ghana, but not in Nigeria. I only discovered this dish when I moved to the UK. As a Nigerian, it is a another way to eat garri. This delicious Ghanaian dish has a bright orange colour and is sometimes called “garri jollof”.
Garri is made from cassava (manioc, yuca). It is a cheap source of a carboydrates and fibre in West African diet. I have fond memories of this “grain-like” food. Like a lot of people in my generation, it was the one thing that was on everyone’s provision list for boarding schools. Garri soakings was what you turned to, when the hunger pangs hit at the hostel. It was also a life saver at the University and I still like to soak garri with cold water and groundnuts on warm days.
Garri is prepared by fermenting finely grated cassava, before pan-frying. The fermentation gives it the pleasantly sour taste; and the length of fermentation determines how “sour” the garri is. I found that the best garri for gari fotor are the less sour ones, as the sharp taste of the very sour garri easily overpower the taste of the sauce.
How To Make Gari Fotor
Gari fotor is usually served with either meat, fish or egg. I used canned sardines for this recipe as the idea was to use convenient store-cupboard ingredients only. You can use whatever protein catches your fancy or do without it.
It is important for the sauce to be full of flavour as this determines the flavour of the final dish. Allow the sauce to cool before you add to the garri, otherwise the hot sauce could start to cook the starch, which then gives a “doughy” consistency like eba instead of crumbly gari fotor.
Stock could be substituted with stock cube and some water.
Gari Fotor With Sardines
- 1 ½ cup Garri
- 3 tablespoons Palm oil/Other vegetable oil
- 2 Onions sliced
- 2 Garlic chopped
- ½ teaspoon Ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon Mild curry powder
- 2 tablespoons Tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon Pepper flakes/powder
- ½ cup Stock
- 1 can Sardine
- 2 handfuls Spinach chopped
- Salt to taste
- 2 Tomatoes chopped for garnish
- Take the sardines out of the can and break into chunks. Keep aside
- Mix the tomato puree and pepper flakes in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons water to form a paste.
- Heat the oil in a pan, then pour in the onions.
- Fry the onions until translucent.
- Add garlic, curry powder and ginger.
- Allow to cook for about 30 secs before adding the tomato puree and pepper paste.
- Add the stock and the sardine chunks.
- Add some salt to taste, cover the pan and allow to simmer for about 15 mins.
- Remove from heat and stir in the chopped spinach.
- Allow to cool.
- While the sauce is cooling, add some water to the garri to make it moist. Add enough water to make it slightly damp, not soggy.
- Pour the sauce into the moist garri and mix thoroughly.
- Serve with the chopped tomatoes.