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Food episode 4: Several wonders of cassava leaf

Do you know you can convert cassava leaf as substitute vegetable leaf in making Efo-riro, Edikaikong, Efo-elegushi, Afang and many other vegetable stew you use for your swallow-food like Poundo, Semo, Eba, Fufu?

Do you also know that it is a welcome delicacy in preparing boiled white rice?

Well, I never knew cassava has great benefits in the body until I met a Sierra Leonian chef who in the cause of our conversation explained why she had keen interest in cassava leaf and how everyone around her who never knew about the cassava leaf also developed so much interest in the delicacy. She said they always asked her for the dish whenever they came visiting.

I could remember my reaction when she told me she wanted to cook cassava leaf, my response was, ‘Oh, do people eat that?’ She replied and said, ‘You are missing’.

Reading through Ecology of Food and Nutrition, it is stated that there is a wide variety of cassava leaf-based recipes suggesting that cassava leaves are a major food in Africa.

During my research, I also discovered other countries that cook cassava leaf recipes. Cassava leaves are eaten as a vegetable in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon, and Gabon

Through the research, I understood that there are different procedures to cassava leaf cooking. There were country variations in the preference for particular varieties based on petiole color and mild mosaic infection.

Before cooking, cassava leaves are usually grounded or pounded; however, pounding is the most popular process. The cassava leaf from Sierra Leone and Nigeria took 40–60 minutes while the standard Congolese recipe took 90 minutes. However, there is a Congolese recipe using sodium bicarbonate that cooks in only 20 minutes according to Ecology of Food and Nutrition.

Unlike cassava plants with high amounts of calories the cassava leaf is said to possess more health benefits along with a good taste.

According to other reports, cassava leaves contain vitamins, proteins, minerals and essential amino acids. The protein found in cassava leaves helps to form body cells and constituent the enzyme system. The availability of amino acid helps to modify the energy into carbohydrates. Amino acids helps to recover the skin wounds, helps us with a good memory, bone health and body’s metabolic system. The chlorophyll found in the leaves provide anticancer and antioxidant properties.

Thinking of a special delicacy this weekend? Below is the step by step method in cooking Cassava leaf like I said earlier, there are different methods to cooking this varying from country to country. But we just stick to a simple and safe procedure.

INGREDIENTS FOR COOKING

Grounded or Pounded cassava leaf
palm oil
Sliced onion
garlic
ginger
tomato paste
ground crayfish dried shrimps
chicken
Grilled turkey or fish precooked
scotch bonnet pepper
cayenne pepper optional
salt and pepper to taste
Maggi

COOKING METHOD

Heat oil in a cooking pot over medium heat , add onions sauté until fragrant about 1-2 minutes.

Add the tomato and seasoning; pepper , garlic, ginger, tomato paste

Then you add your precooked smoked meat, then add stockfish and cook for another 5 minutes.

After cooking the sauce well, then add the grounded and well drained cassava leaves and cook for about 25 minutes more.

Adjust seasonings (Maggie, salt, soup consistency with water and oil) to taste.

Serve hot over rice and for swallow lovers, you serve with any swallow of your choice.

Remember, there are toxic cassava leaves so you have to know the difference. Because raw leaves contain hydrocyanic acid and are poisonous; do not attempt to eat cassava leaves until it is cooked properly.

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