Thursday, September 10, 2009

Recipe #16: Gari potowye (soaking)

Gari-potowye (gari soaking)

I featured a recipe for iced kenkey. Today I'd like to share another snack/porridge- type food I learned to call "gari soak" or "gari soaking." My sister-in-law, Theodora, was unfamiliar with those terms, but knows it by its Fante name "gari-potowye."

It's also simple to make. Take a small amount of gari (I've only used the finely sifted Ghanaian version, not the coarser Nigerian one, but it would work, too). For Americans, I imagine 1/4 - 1/3 cup makes a serving, though for Ghanaians it might take twice that much. Remember that gari swells up to almost 3 times its size when liquid is added to it.

Traditionally people pour the gari into a bowl and fill the bowl with water a couple of times to clean the gari and allow them to pour off any impurities that float to the top.

Like iced kenkey, Theodora agrees gari-potowye "is cheap and easy to make. . . people eat (it) mainly to quench thirst/hunger until they can make or eat something more filling. . ."

To make
"gari- potowye," after rinsing the gari and pouring off any chaff/impurities and most of the extra water, one adds cold or iced water, remembering to add enough to keep it from becoming too thick. For 1/4 cup, after draining off most of the water used to rinse the gari, use 1/4-1/2 cup cold (ice) water. If you are adding milk, you may stay with the lower amount of water. You can always add more milk or water if after it sits for a few minutes you think the mixture is too thick. Conversely, if you add more liquid than you like, you can always sprinkle in a little more gari. As I've said before, Ghanaian cooking is very flexible and forgiving.

Theodora likes her gari potowye best after refrigerating it for about 30 minutes (i.e., it will be softer). As with the iced kenkey, one may add roasted peanuts (in Ghana these would likely be dry roasted and unsalted), milk (evaporated, powdered or fresh) and sugar to taste.

I found an online site in the U.K. that sells processed gari
"Kwik meal gari soaking" to make this dish. Their Kwik brand included cocoa in the mix, something I've never heard of before in Ghana (nor had Julia or Theodora).

Julia affirms, "Yes, it's (gari soaking) delicious with roasted nuts, usually not crushed. It is also not described (as) a drink, though some people may dunk it, but rather (is) watery and eaten with a spoon since the gari thickens if you don't have enough water. The milk tends to slow this down."

Gari soaking has a milder taste than iced kenkey. It can be prepared more or less thick, crisper or soggier, according to taste. As Holli, a Canadian living in Ghana for over a dozen years noted in a comment on yesterday's posting "There is. . . (a) food . . .that my kids love, . . . made with dried gari (cassava powder). Pour the dried gari into water, add evaporated milk (Ideal Brand here!), peanuts and sugar... it has a similar flavour to breakfast cereal!"

Gari prepared this way is another student and boarding school staple.
I think of this cassava meal as Ghana's favorite convenience food, and "gari soaking" is another example. In the coming months I'll feature gari regularly, in ways both savory and sweet.

By the way, the images I'm posting these days were generally meant to be functional, not carefully composed food photography. I leave my camera in the kitchen and take utilitarian photos so you can see what I'm describing. Our cookbook will be visually much more exciting! Also, today I was fresh out of peanuts, so they're missing from the picture, though the added crunch they give to gari soaking is wonderful. For those with allergies, try another type of nut.


Nina said...

Another one of those which has never managed to arouse enthusiasm!

anthia-ofo said...

My kids regard this as a rare treat. I had it all the time in boarding school(wesley girls) Ghana, but live in the UK with my broni husband and 5 kids so they don't often have it.

Golda Addo said...

The "Kwick" brand of Gari and other thingies that you referred to, is produced here and somewhat popular with some boardins school students, due to the innovativeness with wich they portion, package, and also make an otherwise bland meal tasty.

They are an ok brand, so don't be afraid to try them!
Even the Shopping Mall hosts their products, including the gari versions!
... but I'm not too big a fan of gari-soakings, I'm afraid. No particular reason.

Walter Emiedafe said...


I am interested in marketing gari of Nigerian origin to U.S.Can anyone advice how I can go about this?

Your feedback would be appreciated.


Walter Emiedafe

Gifty said...

Hi, I'm ghanaian but currently living in the USA. Eating gari soakings with cocoa powder is very common in Ghana. Anybody that spent part of their eduactional lives in a boarding school will agree with me. Milo is the best cocoa product to add to your gari soakings. Came across your blog yesterday and totally loving it :)

Mary said...

I came across Ghanaian gari in Terre Haute, Indiana at a little Asian grocery store. I had NO IDEA what it was, so had to buy it. As a family we've recently gone gluten-free, casein-free and soy-free, so it's a whole new world out there! lol

Today I made Gari Biscuits c/o BetumiBlog (tasty).

Still curious I came across this recipe for Gari Potowye. Hmmmmmm....

My 11 yr. old son helped me make some using unsweetened almond milk for 1 batch, and chocolate almond milk for another. We added honey to both; this helped. We then added chocolate syrup to the chocolate batch....YUMBO!!! To the plain batch we added some vanilla extract. It was still....lacking, so I pulled my precious jar of cherry preserves from the fridge and made a lovely gari/cherry dessert in a small dish that's lovely and DELISH!!!

Since Gari is an allowed food on our particular diet, I'll be experimenting with it more. It's intriguing, and I wonder that it's basically unknown in the U.S. in this particular form. The bag I bought had the subtitle, 'cassava grits', which, being a Texan by birth, I had to try.