Many of us know tapioca is used mainly as a thickener and used in most of the gluten free products. In south India we make really tasty dishes out of it.
This is my grandmother’s recipe and it’s extremely flavorful.
Tapioca is normally found in groceries near the root vegetable section. Here it’s called Yuca or Cassava in South India it’s called Kappa. Often I come across people asking me how to cook this. So I thought of writing information about how to buy, clean and cook this vegetable.
You can use this vegetable exactly the way you use potatoes, You can mash it, roast it and make chips or fries.
What to look for when buying Tapioca ?
1. When you buy it, look for small young roots which is slightly light in color. It is much easier to cook.
2. Where as the ones that are darker in color are more mature roots , they are hard to cut, has a thick vein which has to be removed before cooking and takes longer time to cook.
3. Press it slightly to make sure there are no soft spots, which is an indication that it has started to go bad.
4. It’s normally white in color. If you see any black spots or any other discoloration discard it. Don’t cook it , it tastes bitter.
How to Clean and Cut?
The best way to cut this is to score it with a knife in small segments and it easily breaks off.
Make a deep score on the outer skin with the tip of your knife and it easily peels off.
Remove the vein which is hard to chew and cut them into small cubes.
Since tapioca roots contain some toxins, it is advised that you never consume it raw and to cook this in a large pot of water and drain it nicely which helps remove all the toxins.
How to cook ?
Heat water in a large pot when it comes to a rolling boil add the cut tapioca , it takes 15 to 20 minutes to cook. It turns into a creamy white color,drain it and set it aside.
Make sure it has a little bite to it, which is important for this recipe.
At this stage it tastes exactly like cooked potatoes,it’s kind of bland so we have to make it tasty by adding some flavor to it.
- Green chilies- 2 or 3 ( spicy or mild)
- Garlic – 1 Or 2
- Black mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Curry leaves – few
- Oil – 3 teaspoons
- Salt – 2 teaspoons
- Grated coconut – 2 tablespoons ( fresh/ frozen)
Cut the green chilies and garlic into small pieces, add a little bit of coarse salt and pound it into a coarse paste.
If you can’t handle the heat Just remove the seeds and the vein from the green chilies which makes it mild.
You can also use 1 teaspoon of store bought red chili garlic sauce, which gives the same taste and a little bit of color.
We traditionally use coconut oil to make this dish, you can use any cooking oil.
Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds once it pops add the curry leaves.
Now add the chili garlic paste and sauté it just for a second, add the cooked tapioca and salt and mix it well. The aroma of chili-garlic is amazing, it literally perfumes the whole kitchen.
Let it stay in a low flame for a couple of minutes which allows the flavors to meld with the tapioca.
Now add the grated coconut and serve it hot.
This is a very simple and yet very flavorful dish and extremely tasty. I make this on rainy or a cold wintery days. It is traditionally served with rice porridge made with butter milk which is called congee. You can have it with your soup too. It is extremely satisfying and it’s an awesome comfort food which makes you feel at home.
I make tapioca in so many ways – these are my favorites.
Tapioca roast or pan fry
Sprinkle some salt and paprika on the cooked tapioca cubes add some Cajun seasoning drizzle some olive oil and roast in the oven or pan fry it.
Cook it and mash it nicely add salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic and some chopped cilantro, make it into small patties, roll them in bread crumbs and shallow fry.
Add the dressing of your choice and some herbs to the cooked tapioca and make this into a tasty tapioca salad.
Hope these tasty tapioca dishes have inspired you to buy this root vegetable once in awhile and enjoy it as much as we do.
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