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Cassava Production at the Kalinago Barana Autê

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It is believed that the Kalinago people transported the Cassava plant to Dominica from South America over 1000 years ago. Cassava was among the most appreciated food of the Kalinago people, and has always been an important part in their daily diet.

There are various methods of preparation of Cassava according to the purpose for which it will be used. The Cassava can be roasted, boiled or baked. It is most commonly used to make Cassava Bread. It is also commonly used to make Farine, which is the fiber of the Cassava after the starch has been removed from it.

When the Cassava has reached maturity stage it is then harvested and cleaned of all soil and external fibres including the skin before it is ground using a Cassava Mill.

The Cassava Mill is designed and constructed by the Kalinago people themselves. The grinding surface of the Mill consists of an aluminum grater on a wheel. To grind the Cassava, the leg is used to spin the wheel from an attached board, while the grater is being fed with the Cassava.

The ground Cassava is mixed with water in a tub and is later squeezed to separate the starch from the fiber. The starch settles at the base of the container in which the excess water was squeezed into. The dry fiber is then sifted to remove the hard fibers, which makes the fiber ready for baking. The fiber alone can be baked into Farine or the fiber with a mixture of starch can be baked into Cassava bread.

When making Cassava bread, the mixture of Cassava fiber and starch is converted into a dough. This is then followed by placing it onto the pan and allowing it to bake until it is cooked. Likewise, when making Farine, the Cassava fibres are placed in the pan and are stirred until it is cooked.