Thursday, June 30, 2011

Angolan Food: Cassava Sticks

With its tropical and sub-tropical climate regions, Angola is has a perfect climate for growing tuberous roots such as yucca or cassava.  In rural areas, cassava is either a primary staple food or a secondary co-staple because of the ease of growth and its starch / carbohydrate content which gives the consumer a 'full-feeling'.
Cassava roots are very rich in starch and contain significant amounts of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin C.  However, they are very poor in protein and other nutrients.  In contrast, cassava leaves are a good source of protein and are rich in amino acids.
A common use of the root in Angola is to make cassava sticks.   Essentially, after the root has been peeled, shredded and pounded, the pounded flesh is wrapped up in banana leaves and then steamed for several hours to cook and soften.  
The finished cassava sticks are very thick and solid; thicker than mashed potatoes and nearly the consistency of modeling clay.The cooking infuses the flavor of the banana leaves with the cassava resulting in a flavor much like steamed artichoke.  The food is served warm or at room temperature with soup, stew or any other sauce dish.   The cooked sticks keep for several days if stored in the leaf wrapper in a cool, dry place.

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