Al dente African gluten-free pasta products in a wicker basket at the farmers market in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria, June 25, 2022. REUTERS/Temirade Adelaja

LAGOS: Trained chef Lenny Chuksu began experimenting with making pasta from cassava in his Lagos kitchen during the 2020 Nigerian coronavirus pandemic during the nationwide lockdown.

Using locally grown crops such as cassava and plantain, she creates herb-infused handmade pasta that she now sells through her company Aldente Africa, which was founded two years ago.

Aldente Africa was one of the first companies to make gluten-free pasta in Nigeria, she says. The country is one of the world’s largest producers of cassava, a root vegetable rich in minerals and vitamin C. I think we should make more use of the crops that have been harvested.

“We found out what kind of products we eat every day. Cassava is one of our main, major products. Everything else will follow,” Chuksu told Reuters from her company’s base in Lagos.

She also uses plantain and fonio, small grain crops grown in West Africa, and infuses them with local herbs and vegetables to give some of her pasta a green or pinkish hue.

Her products track the global trend towards plant-based foods. With sleek packaging and a retail price of US$2-5 per pack of pasta, it currently caters to relatively affluent consumers.

Wheat-based pasta is a staple food in Nigeria, and Chuks believes there’s plenty of room for a growing market for alternative products, which he sells online and in health shops.

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