Garri kanyah

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This sweet Sierra Leonean dessert from Maria Bradford uses just three ingredients: toasted cassava, peanut butter and sugar. Traditionally the garri (toasted, ground cassava) would be pounded by hand, but using ready made garri makes the process much easier!

This recipe is taken from Sweet Salone by Maria Bradford (Quadrille, £30) Photography: Yuki Sugiura.

First published in 2023

Maria Bradford says: 'Kanyah is a simple snack that’s sold all over Sierra Leone. It’s naturally gluten free and very simple – just three main ingredients: garri, peanuts and sugar. The women in the villages make kanyah the old-fashioned way – using muscle power to pound it into oblivion. Women in Sierra Leone have muscles of steel and chat away as they work the ingredients to a smooth paste.

Garri – dried, toasted, granulated cassava – is made from the dried, ground tuberous roots of the cassava plant (see opposite). The dried granules have a texture similar to medium semolina. Garri is a major part of the diet among various ethnicities of Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Guinea, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Note that cassava should not be eaten raw in large quantities because it contains a naturally occurring cyanide that is toxic to humans. Soaking, fermenting and cooking cassava are processes that render the toxin harmless.'

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

  • 360g of ready-made garri
  • 350g of crunchy peanut butter, use one without palm oil
  • 50g of coconut sugar, or to taste, up to 100g

Method

1

Toast the garri in a dry frying pan until warm and browned

  • 360g of ready-made garri
2

Put the toasted garri and peanut butter in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth (this will take at least 4–5 minutes). Scrape down the sides with a spatula a few times. Taste and add sugar according to your own preference and blend again

3

Press the mixture in an even layer in the base of a 20cm (8in) square brownie tin, then cut into squares

4

Serve right away or store in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks

First published in 2023

Maria Bradford, born and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone, is the founder of and head chef at Shwen Shwen, a catering company serving Sierra Leonean and Afro-fusion cuisine. Her debut cookbook Sweet Salone was released in 2023, and she sells her own product range online.

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