Gari Foto (Foto is pronounced as Fortor) has always struck me as a functional energy packed meal for time poor folks. It is not a dish to be swooned over for its visual aesthetics and neither does it lend itself to gimmickry. It is simple to make with common ingredients and serves a purpose especially for those who need a rich carbohydrate packed meal to carry out their day to day tasks.
The main ingredient is gari (or garri, garry and gali) which is common across West Africa, especially in Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast (over a couple of hundred million people). Gari in these countries is what rice is to the Chinese and pasta is to the Italian. Gari has a similar texture to couscous and comes ready to consume unlike rice or pasta. I doubt many folks now make their own gari, which is essentially dried grated cassava tubers, as commercially manufactured gari is now easy to find.
I see gari foto in 3 ways.
The first is that, this is a dish that comes to mind (or should) when you have some left over tomato based stew ( e.g. tomatoes, pepper, onions combined) left over and can’t be bothered to cocoon yourself in the kitchen for more than 15-20 minutes. Most folks familiar with gari always have a bag or two in their pantry. Combine the two, whilst throwing in a few other ingredients, and you have gari foto!
More recently this dish has drastically gone up in my estimation and I consider it as a party or “get together” dish. One of those meals that you add as an extra dish to a typical party dish like jollof rice. Your guest will not be expecting it and it is guaranteed to get them talking as they savour the flavours.
The recipe below falls under the vegetarian banner. Shrimps are added but, really this can be substituted for corn beef (most commonly used) or quite frankly anything similar like sardines or tuna that you think will go with it. Isn’t cooking after all about bringing together imagination and creativity to combine a medley of ingredients to give you that flavour and taste? Enjoy!
Ingredients: Onions, Cherry tomatoes, Eggs, Gari, Garlic Powder, Green Peppers and Garnish
Gari Foto Meal
Click for Gari Foto recipe