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East African Snack: Cassava Chips (fries)

East African Snack: Cassava Chips (fries)

Cassava chips have cemented a special position in the cuisine scene in East Africa. With its mouthwatering crispy texture and salty flavour, this common snack enchants palates and they are a delicious treat as well as a cultural tie.

During the colonial era, the starchy tuber cassava, which is native to South America, was brought to Africa. It eventually settled into the friendly soils of East Africa, growing into a staple crop and vital source of food. As East African societies learned about cassava's delicious potential, the shift from sustenance to delicacy was a natural step.

Cassava's transformation into chips was a reflection of the inventiveness of East African chefs. They invented the method of slicing and frying cassava, leading to the invention of cassava chips, in search of a snack that balanced convenience with flavor. This culinary creation quickly won people over, spreading from home kitchens to hopping markets and lively street corners.

The tantalizing aromas of "viazi karai," the local term for cassava chips, are permeating Tanzanian neighbourhoods. The star of the show is this adored street cuisine, which is frequently served with hot sauces.

"Kabalagala," the local name for cassava chips, calls with its golden charm at Ugandan marketplaces and on street corners. These chips successfully combine flavor and tradition.

The Rwandese word for cassava chips, "Akabenz," indicates a long culinary tradition. The vibrant harmony of sauces made with chili peppers complements the voyage of the chips from street booths to palates.

Preparation Time

50 minutes



1 large cassava root

Vegetable oil







  • Wash the cassava root thoroughly to remove any dirt.
  • Peel the cassava to remove the tough outer brown skin. 
  • Slice the peeled cassava into thin rounds using a mandoline slicer or a sharp knife.
  • Place the cassava slices in a bowl of cold water and let them soak for about 30 minutes to remove excess starch. 
  • Drain the cassava slices and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.
  • Carefully add a handful of cassava slices to preheated oil and fry for about 7 minutes until they turn golden brown.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the chips from the oil and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil.
  • Sprinkle salt on the chips while they are still hot.
  •  Allow the cassava chips to cool and serve!