I hate shopping, but I am a compulsive grocery shopper. Unsurprisingly much of my kitchen is taken up by previously unheard of ingredients (like gari) that I purchased out of curiosity. Sometimes I decide to use them, and then I don't until 6 months later when I decide to use them again (and then don't. Again). Eventually I get around to it, and sometimes I'm so taken by an ingredient that I want to punch myself in the kneecap for not paying it any attention sooner. Enter gari.
Gari is a West African staple made from cassava (yuca root, or the vegetable behind tapioca) that has been ground and dried. After the root is shredded, it is left to ferment for a few days and then the excess liquid and starch is pressed out before the pulp is toasted until crispy and ground to the desired coarseness. Once dried, gari is typically added to hot water to create a thick porridge-like dough to be eaten alongside stews and soups. The fermentation and toasting process gives the flour a mild smoky sour flavour.
I first encountered gari sprinkled on top of red red, a Ghanaian bean stew I enjoyed at Zoe's Ghana Kitchen, a vegan friendly pop up located in Pop Brixton (where you can part with £4.50 of real money in exchange for a can of Red Stripe).
The tofu feta is based on a recipe I developed for VegNews a couple of years ago, only twice as salty to make up for the lack of salt in the stew itself. Make it with half the salt and some extra lemon juice if you want to use the tofu in a greek salad or on pizza.
Black Eyed Pea Stew with Faux Feta and Cassava Flour
The tofu feta is salty enough to make up for the lack of salt in the stew, so don't be put off by the minimal quantity added with the beans. In order to keep this vegan black eyed pea stew simple, I mixed some gari through for thickness and sprinkled some on top for texture. If you want to make gari dumplings for the stew, get a bowl of just boiled water and sprinkle gari in, mixing and adding more flour until the dough is thick enough to form into balls. Drop the dumplings into the stew and serve.
Faux Feta Ingredients
- 300 grams firm tofu, cut into approximate 1 centimetre cubes
- 250 millilitres (1 cup) water
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Bean Stew Ingredients
- 1 small yellow onion (about 160 grams), chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3-4 large cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 250 millilitres (1 cup) water
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 1 400 gram tin black eyed peas (in unsalted water)
- Roughly ⅓ cup chopped spring onion (white and green parts)
- ¼-⅓ cup gari flour, divided
- Coriander (optional)
- To make the faux feta, combine the water, salt, lemon juice, oregano, and thyme in a medium saucepan. Bring the liquid to the boil and carefully drop in the tofu, ensuring you splash minimal scalding water on your skin. Simmer for 15 minutes and then set the pan aside (do not drain). Once the tofu is cool, refrigerate it in its brine for a few hours or overnight.
- Heat a saute pan or skillet to medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil and chopped onion. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until the onion begins to brown.
- Turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic, and cook one more minute.
- Tip the thyme, oregano, and bay leaf into the pan and stir for 15 seconds before adding the water, tomato paste, liquid smoke and salt. Stir to combine and then add the beans.
- Simmer for 20 minutes before stirring in the spring onions.
- Drain and quickly rinse the tofu in brine. Add to the stew, stirring lightly to avoid breaking the bean curd. Add half of the gari and mix thoroughly. The stew will thicken slightly. After five minutes, sprinkle the rest of the gari and the coriander (if using) on the stew and serve.
- Author: Kip
- Servings: 2
- Cuisine: West African Greek Fusion