Cassava, cocoa and corn have provided sustenance for many of us in the Caribbean. However, they have also produced snacks unique to our region, eg farine, cocoa nibs and, my favourite, asham.
Handfuls of dry farine mixed with sugar kept our energy levels up as children, and no doubt kept us healthy. Farine is a coarse, starchy powder made from the root vegetable cassava. Cooked with milk, sugar and spices, it makes a filling porridge. Farine is sold as powder or as flat thin off-white cakes which are delicious toasted. Finely ground farine produces a cassava flour which makes an excellent loaf bread. Cassava is a fairly good source of B-complex and has negligible fat content.
Cocoa nibs are toasted pieces of cracked cocoa beans. These nibs come from Caribbean-grown cocoa, BTW.
On their own, the nibs have a bitter, chocolatey flavour, but mixed with cane sugar and spices they become a healthy, crunchy, delicious, addictive snack, packed with powerful nutrients, antioxidants, and fibre. The nibs can be snacked on alone, or with added dried fruit, or tossed over yogurt, oatmeal….snacked on alone…
Asham, also known as chillibibi, is a dry snack made from finely ground roasted corn (the consistency of sand), sweetened with sugar and spices. Care must be taken when eating this since the powder can cause coughing! Asham was traditionally eaten in November as an ancestor food, but once there is roasted corn available, asham can be produced, and eaten! almost year round.
Spice Island Bites provides curated subscription boxes containing authentic hand-made snacks and hard-to-find ingredients from Grenada and the wider Caribbean.