19 Steps to Making Yucca Bread

Casabe is a thin, cracker-like bread made out of yucca. It is an important staple of the Garífuna diet and a custom inherited from the Arawak Indians, one of the Garífuna ancestors. The process to make casabe is as follows.

1. Harvest the yucca. Extract 18-20 pounds of this root.
2. Peel the yucca.
3. Wash and clean the yucca with seawater to give the roots a distinct salt flavor.
4. Grate the yucca with an egi, a wooden grating board embedded with small quartz stones.
5. Pack the shredded yucca into the ruguma, a 2-3 meter-long straining device woven out of palm leaves.
6. Hang the ruguma from the rafters.
7. Shake and stretch the ruguma to drain the poisonous liquid (cyanogenic glycoside) from the grated yucca.
8. Remove the yucca dough from the ruguma and leave covered with a towel to dry overnight.
9. The next morning, sift the yucca with the jívise (a large, braided sieve) to produce a refined flour.
10. Place firewood beneath the grill and light the stove.
11. Sprinkle chingaste (the material that did not pass through the jívise) onto the grill to determine the temperature.
12. When the stove is ready, scoop the yucca flour onto the grill.
13. Spread the flour over the grill, forming a round circle. Fill any holes with excess flour.
14. As the bread heats and begins to toast, sweep the loose flour away with a special yucca brush.
15. Sift a small amount of yucca flour onto the casabe.
16. Flatten the yucca bread with a wooden tool called the garagu.
17. Carefully flip the casave onto its other side. Sweep away any excess flour.
18. Flatten the bread with the garagu again. Brush and scrape off the extra flour. Use a knife to round the edges.
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19. Remove the casabe from the grill and allow to cool. Make incisions so the bread can be broken into smaller portions. Eat and enjoy!

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Photo credits: Drew Irwin, InCorpore Cultural Association©. Revised by K.Stevens, Stanford Center for Latin American Studies, 3/1/00.